U.S. Open weekend shaping up to be a good one
We are in the midst of history. The first ever U.S. Open in Wisconsin is underway, and it is shaping up to be a good one.
Much attention is being given to the event, some of it for reasons the USGA is probably not too proud of, but it is attention nonetheless.
Going into the final two rounds of the U.S. Open, here are some factors for Wisconsin viewers to keep in mind while watching this historic weekend unfold.
Top three players are out
Without a doubt, the most surprising thing about the first two rounds of the U.S. Open is that the world's top three ranked golfers have all not made the cut. This is the first time that has happened at a major since 1968.
No. 1 ranked Dustin Johnson shot a +4, and for the second week in a row, he has missed the cut at a major tournament. Hitting the fairways 86% of the time, and with an average drive of 311.96 yards, Johnson was constantly going back and forth from the cut line at +1.
It should also be noted that the course is being played so well that in order to make the cut the worst score a player could have is one over par, which is nothing short of impressive.
Johnson was at the cut line at hole 12, but after bogeying holes 13,14 and 17, his chances were over.
Rory McIlroy, the No. 2 player in the world, has also missed the cut with a score of +5. Although he managed to shot a -1 in his second round, it was nowhere near enough to dig himself out of the hole he made in day one shooting a +6.
In round one on Thursday, Rory hit the fairway on his drives a mere 36% of the time, and in round two, he hit it 79%. If only he could have figured his game out sooner, the world would still be watching the Irishman play on the weekend. Instead, his less than impressive year thus far continues.
No. 3 Jason Day played perhaps the worst two rounds of golf he has ever played, shooting a whomping +10. With a score of +7 after day one, he did not do himself any favors on Friday shooting +3 to put himself nine strokes over the cut line.
The Australian came in with high expectations and said that he studied the course a lot. Perhaps it was the triple boogie he had on Thursday that sunk his confidence. Nonetheless, down goes the third best player.
Perhaps voice of the Brewers, Bob Uecker would have something to say about the top three players being cut: "Get up! Get up! Get outta here, gone!"
Steve Stricker makes the cut
Wisconsinites all over can finally stop holding their breath as Madison's very own Steve Stricker lives to play another weekend after finishing right at the cut line of +1.
After barely squeaking his way into the tournament, Stricker has been playing exceptional golf.
Although he is not under par, Stricker had to shoot at least even on day two if he wanted to continue playing. However, after a bogey on hole 13 in the second round, it looked like his chances may have been over.
To the large excited Wisconsin crowd that followed him, the drama was real and it was not until he managed to birdie holes 14 and 18 that he got his score to the cutline.
With standing ovations at nearly every hole he has played, Striker says he is having a lot of fun.
"I've enjoyed this experience," Stricker said. "It's been unbelievable. The amount of support that I've received every hole I walk up to, every tee box, it's been unreal. The standing ovation on 18, it's been really cool. I wanted to experience our first U.S. Open more than anything here in our home state. I'm glad I went through it, and I'm glad I'm here."
Jordan Niebrugge makes the cut
The 22-year-old from Mequon managed to shoot a +1 in the first two rounds and will continue his play through the weekend.
Playing his first two rounds paired with two fellow Oklahoma State University alumni, Niebrugge managed to shoot one over par in his first round.
Having to keep his score at least at the cutline of +1, the front nine of his play in day two did not look too promising. With three bogeys and just one birdie on his scorecard, he managed to birdie holes 16 and 17, bringing his score to +1.
Niebrugge said making the cut at the U.S. Open is definitely something to check off his bucket list, and the amount of Wisconsin support he is getting is also a plus.
"It's always great to play in front of family and friends," Niebrugge said. "It's a little nerve-racking at first, but once you get going, it's almost like anything. Every hole they're giving encouragement, and especially on that back nine I was struggling a little bit. But they're keeping it going. Kind of getting it back together and getting some good shots."
Andrew "Beef" Johnston
If you were to follow Englishman Andrew Johnston around the course, there are two things you would notice: the large Arby's logo on his shirt and the constant cheers of fans yelling, "Beef!"
With the nickname that comes from his curly hair that looks like ground beef, the 5'11" 212 Ibs Johnston is playing particularly well golf sitting at -2 in his second U.S. Open appearance.
He has a long climb up the leader board if he wants any chance of winning, but anything, or anyone, related to beef in Wisconsin is going to get attention.
Johnston embraces the nickname and will typically acknowledge fans who call him "beef" with a wave, a smile and a good old English "Cheers!"
Despite his friendly and crowd pleasing demeanor Johnson wants to win and is serious about his play, saying that Erin Hills is a fair but true test.
"I like it," Johnston said. "I think it's fair ... it's the U.S. Open, you know you want it to be tough. You know it's going to be tricky. But I think it's a bit fairer."
Going into the weekend, there is a four-way tie between Englishmen Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood and Americans Brian Harman and Brooks Koepka at the score of -7. Which is a very low score for a major event.
There is a three way tie for second at -6 which includes the crowd favorite, Rickie Fowler.
Coverage of the final two rounds continues on Fox.
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