Dustin Johnson took a massive step towards a second US Open victory in three years as Ian Poulter’s challenge imploded on an eventful second day at Shinnecock Hills.
Johnson, who is looking to become only the second player after Tiger Woods to win the title as world number one, carded a second round of 67 to set a daunting clubhouse target of four under par.
That did not look like being challenged until the wind surprisingly died in late afternoon and Poulter was among those to take advantage, three birdies in four holes from the fourth taking him to within a shot of the lead.
However, the 42-year-old then dropped four shots in his last two holes to finish five shots off the pace, leaving Charley Hoffman and Scott Piercy as Johnson’s nearest challengers on level par.
TWEET OF THE DAY
Justin Thomas battled wind and rain to post a 70 on Friday morning and was not happy at seeing the late starters enjoying perfect conditions.
SHOT OF THE DAY
Having started on the 10th, Jimmy Walker had already recorded an eagle on the 16th before producing his second of the day on the fourth by holing out from 170 yards from a fairway bunker.
ROUND OF THE DAY
Tommy Fleetwood and Brooks Koepka both shot 66, but defending champion Koepka edges it by virtue of recovering from two early bogeys to fire six birdies in the space of 10 holes.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I felt stupid knifing the first shot [out of the bunker], I felt more stupid semi-chunking the next one and I didn’t do that well with the next one either.” – Ian Poulter with an honest assessment of his triple-bogey seven on the eighth.
STATISTIC OF THE DAY
“Good morning from Shinnecock Hills. 21 of the last 22 U.S. Open champions were at or within 2 shots of the lead after 36 holes.” – The Golf Channel’s Justin Ray with a stat to please the Dustin Johnson fans.
The third took over from the 14th as the toughest hole, with Russell Henley’s challenge faltering as he tangled with the fescue on his way to a seven. A total of 71 bogeys, 15 double bogeys and Henley’s triple bogey helped produce a scoring average of 4.641.
For the second day in succession, the fifth hole played as the easiest with an average of 4.878, offering up 46 birdies, 22 bogeys and just one double bogey or worse.
ON THE UP
Brooks Koepka’s chances of becoming the first player to successfully defend the US Open title since 1989 after a second round of 66 lifted him into a tie for fourth place.
ON THE SLIDE
The prospects of Tiger Woods winning another major after rounds of 78 and 72 proved the former world number one remains far from his prime following spinal fusion surgery last year.