Bradley Dredge: Welsh golfer two over after US Open first round

At 6-under 138, he trails four players by a shot as he readies for 36 more holes at Erin Hills.

The players were in a big hole to start the second round on Friday - Johnson opened in 75, McIlroy struggled to a first-round 78, and Day posted 79 - and there would be no miracle comebacks. The 2011 U.S. Open champion joked that this championship has become his "annual missed cut".

The Englishman rallied with a string of five birdies in a row on the way to a 71 that put the smile back on his face and his name on top of the leaderboard at Erin Hills. Many were headed to the airport.

Dustin Johnson, needing birdie to get back to the cut line, took four shots from just below the green and made bogey. He had no explanation or theory on why the top three players in the world would not be around for the weekend - the first time since the Official World Golf Ranking debuted in 1986 that the top three in the world missed the cut at a major. But each of those three favorites missed the cut.

A 338-yard drive off the tee took him to the edge of the green and he got up and down in two for a birdie.

It's not the kind of leaderboard that makes someone want to cancel their weekend plans to stay home and watch the last two rounds of the U.S. Open.

"Not every day you enjoy a round of golf with an eight on the card, but I'm a pretty happy man", Casey said. "Our focus is exclusively on the game of golf, and we appreciate that there's some out there that want to make this a political event, but we're not". "Yesterday (Thursday), I just hit some shots close and made some putts".

Neither did McIroy and Day, though all three made their share of trips into the club-grabbing fescue as well. That should have affected everyone the same way, but it was particularly troublesome for the field's elite players.

Matsuyama played alongside first-round leader Rickie Fowler and Jon Rahm, ranked No. 10 in the world. He had five finishes in the top 10.

There is something about new U.S. Open venues that brings out the best in Jamie Lovemark.

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Rory McIlroy and Jason Day never recovered from theirs. In order to be there on Sunday, to give oneself a chance, you have to find a way to stick around.

Danny Willett, the Masters champion in 2016, withdrew before the start of the second round with a back injury.

"I knew I was out of it", Day said.

Were they just not as sharp as they normally would be for a major?

I wanted to experience our first U.S. Open more than anything here in our state.

"The fairways are wide enough", he said. Yet, some of the biggest bombers in the game flamed out.

"Even though it's very disappointing to not be here on the weekend, but I think these last two rounds will serve me well going into the summer", said McIlroy, who will play next week at the Travelers Championship. "Some of it nearly takes the bombers out of it". He finished with a 7 on the par 4, dropping back to 5 under. "There's maybe two or three holes, but other than that it's bombs away".

Not that anyone is complaining about the course. Each of the 12 players at seven, six or five under have hit 70 percent of their fairways.

"You can shoot low numbers here", Day said. When you're doing that, you've got to be able to put it on the green. "Myself and Rory, we didn't quite have the greatest tee game (Thursday) and it showed in the scores". I think it's easy to lose track. The leaderboard is shaping up quite nicely.

And for all the birdies and blunders at Erin Hills, the most compelling image Friday came from the parking lot, where one star after another left town after missing the cut.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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