Long-driving Champ takes advantage of Erin Hills' generosity

Johnson's one-over-par-73 on Friday was not enough to cancel out the damage he incurred after opening with a three-over-par-75 on Thursday. He'll head home to spend time with his son, River Jones Johnson, who was born Monday.

Another warm, dry day is drying out the course, and the players are noticing a difference.

I really like Rickie Fowler's position entering the weekend. I did the work, looked at the golf course, made sure that I could actually play and visualize the golf course. He doesn't have all the pressure on him, doesn't have the spotlight on him, but he's very much right in the thick of things.

Johnson has missed just four PGA Tour cuts in the past 23 months - dating back to the 2016 PGA Championship - but it's now two straight since the Memorial two weeks ago and this week at the U.S. Open. He had five three-putts over the two days (Jordan Spieth, playing in his group, had none) and averaged 2.0 putts on the 24 greens he hit in regulation (that's 0.23 higher than his average this year, which only ranks 177th). He two-putted for birdie, and he rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th.

Sitting two shots back with the clubhouse lead is Paul Casey who survived a rollercoaster round that included a gut-wrenching triple-bogey and a thrilling run of five straight birdies.

At least he'll have plenty of company at the airport.

Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day - the top three players in the world, all of them professing expansive Erin Hills to be ideal for their games - spent Friday cleaning out their lockers after missing the cut.

"Not every day you enjoy a round of golf with an eight on the card, but I'm a pretty happy man", Casey said. "But as we all know, this game's all about putting".

"Hopefully I've got a lot of the bad stuff out of my system yesterday and some parts today".

Defending champion Johnson trudged to the exit at Erin Hills after failing to make the halfway cut, which fell at one-over-145.

While the former took a share of the haflway lead with a 71 which owed so much to heart and perseverance, the latter submitted to the cut in a performance which is beginning to sum up his miserable season.

Left behind was the biggest 36-hole logjam in 43 years at the U.S. Open, with four tied at the top.

Both golfers struggled to find the fairways and too often they were forced to hack it out of the waist-deep rough. The Japanese star birdied six of his first eight holes Friday, finishing round two at five under for the tournament. He ended up winning by three. Schauffele went 26 consecutive holes without a bogey until he rammed his long birdie putt on No. 9 about 12 feet by the hole and narrowly missed the par putt.

Patrick Reed has joined the 65 club at Erin Hills. The 2014 runner-up is just one-shot behind alongside Jamie Lovemark and JB Holmes. "I had to hit it all". "If you hit it off the tee you can score".

Johnson said he plans to take four weeks off. I know that sounds insane, but if Garcia fires a 67 or 66 on Saturday, he's going to be right in the mix.

This is the longest course on tour this year, but if the 50-year-old can manage to keep it in the fairways, he's got an opportunity to pick up some strokes on the golfers now ahead of him.



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