The U.S. Open prides itself on being essentially the most open of all majors with some 9,000 gamers from all walks of golf having an opportunity to compete.
The weekend at Torrey Pines options main champions and main contenders, gamers who’re unknown or unheralded, all of them nonetheless inside attain of that U.S. Open trophy. Nine photographs separated first from final.
Russell Henley had an opportunity to construct a two-shot lead Friday afternoon when he stood over an 18-foot birdie putt on the par-5 ninth. He missed, after which watched his 2-foot par putt spin out of the cup. That gave him a 70 to hitch Bland 5-under 137.
They shall be within the remaining group Saturday, with loads of heavy hitters behind them and getting much more consideration. Former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen (71) and Matthew Wolff (68), the U.S. Open runner-up final yr at Winged Foot, have been one shot behind.
Another shot again have been two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson (67) and Jon Rahm (70), a previous winner at Torrey Pines and former world No. 1.
Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau and his buddy, Brooks Koepka, have been at even par, solely 5 photographs behind. They have been on the identical rating. They is not going to be in the identical group.
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Also at even-par 142 was Justin Thomas, who had a 68.
“Most times if I’m five back going into a Saturday, I need to probably make 12, 15-plus birdies on the weekend to hang in there,” Thomas said. “But this is a U.S. Open. It’s a little bit different.”
Henley doesn’t know much about Bland except that he pays a little attention to golf worldwide and recalled hearing about his British Masters win to end his long quest for a victory.
Bland’s victory in the British Masters made him the oldest first-time winner in European Tour history. That also was the start of a three-tournament series for the leading 10 players to get into the U.S. Open. Travel restrictions from the COVID-19 pandemic eliminated the 36-hole qualifier in England.
This is only his fourth major — twice at Royal Birkdale in 1998 and 2017, once at Bethpage Black for the U.S. Open in 2009 — and he came in on a high note.
“A lot of guys have a lot more on the CV than I do,” Bland said. “But I’m here to compete and give it everything I’ve got.”
Oosthuizen, coming off a runner-up finish in the PGA Championship, finished with two pars in the morning to cap off a 67 to share the first-round lead with Henley. He didn’t get any lower in the second round and shot 71, but was right in the mix.
WATCH | Oosthuizen shares lead after 1 round:
So was Wolff, a shock solely as a result of he misplaced all pleasure enjoying golf after such a sizzling begin out of Oklahoma State that he walked away from the sport for 2 months, even lacking a significant on the PGA Championship. He returned to the hardest check in golf and shot 70-68, two-putting for eagle on the final gap.
“It’s awesome that I came out here and played well, but I think more importantly, I’m just getting closer to being more comfortable and being happy and enjoying it,” Wolff mentioned. “I feel like I’ve done a very good job of enjoying it, but I’ve still got a long way to go to keep a level head. Like I said, I’ll probably be working on the same thing that I’m working on now for the rest of my career.”
The 36-hole lead at Torrey Pines within the 2008 U.S. Open was 3-under 139. The course is robust as ever with sufficient wind, although a marine layer has stored sunshine from baking out a few of the greens. Then once more, the weekend awaits.
The weekend will embrace Phil Mickelson, whose deft scrambling stored him contained in the reduce line and he completed with a birdie for a 69. He was seven photographs behind in his quest to finish the profession Grand Slam.
Bland shall be an enormous a part of the weekend, and that is the appeal of the U.S. Open.
“I love that about the game,” defending champion Bryson DeChambeau mentioned after a 69 left him 5 photographs behind. “Anybody, any age group, can play this great game and compete and contend. If you’re got the skill set to get the ball in the hole in the least amount of shots, you can be up there with the young guns.”
Bland is the basic journeyman, pleased to be making a residing at golf for greater than 20 years, upset to haven’t received till he broke by means of final month, not almost stunned as most everybody else that he was tied for the U.S. Open.