The Denver Post

JOHNSON SUBPAR

Catching him will be challenge

- By Doug Ferguson

SOUTHAMPTO­N, N.Y.» Shinnecock Hills is no longer the only challenge at this U.S. Open.

On a course that can cause problems in any weather, where triple bogeys or worse have been recorded on all but six holes, perhaps the most daunting prospect going into the weekend is Dustin Johnson with a four-shot lead.

Johnson played smart on the few occasions he was out of position, holed a 45-foot birdie putt on the par-3 seventh green, and endured wind and two hours of rain Friday morning for a 3-under 67.

He was at 4-under 136, the only player still under par going into the weekend. Scott Piercy (71) and Charley Hoffman (69) were at even par.

“You’ve got to play really good golf if you want to shoot a good score, and I like where par is a good score on every hole, no matter what club you’ve got in your hand, what hole it is,” Johnson said.

Only six other players in the U.S. Open have led by as many as four shots after 36 holes. All but one — Tom McNamara in 1909 — went on to win.

Even so, there’s plenty of reminders of how it can all go wrong — some of them from Johnson’s own experience­s, most of them from the final few hours Friday afternoon in perfect weather from those trying to catch him.

Shinnecock can punish anyone in a New York minute.

“There’s a disaster on every single hole,” Ian Poulter said moments after he went through one.

Poulter was one shot out of the lead and in the middle of the fairway with two holes to go when one bad shot led to a few more that were just as worse — a bunker shot that sailed over the green, a chunked chip into the hay, a chop short of the green and a triple bogey on No. 8. He made bogey on his last hole for a 72.

“I felt stupid knifing the first one,” he said. “I felt even more stupid semi-chunking the next one, and I didn’t do much better on the next one, either. So maybe it makes a few people happy out there that, you know, we kind of mess up just as good as everyone else.”

Poulter didn’t lose sight of being in a tie for fourth, five shots out of the lead.

Hoffman was the only other player under par until he missed the 18th fairway and had to chop it down the fairway and make a 5foot putt to escape with bogey.

“Dustin plays a whole different golf game than I play, so I’m not going to play the guy,” Hoffman said. “I’m just going to keep playing my game. You’re going to try to hit fairways. Because if you don’t hit the fairway, you’re not getting to the green.”

Rory McIlroy missed the cut for the third straight year in the U.S. Open, unable to recover from his opening 80. Jason Day opened with a 79 and missed the cut.

Jordan Spieth joined them in the most unlikely fashion. He took three shots to get up the slope and onto the 10th green, making double bogey. He was three shots over the cut line with six holes to play when he ran off four straight birdies to get inside the number — only to three-putt for bogey on the 17th, stub a chip from the collar of a bunker on the 18th and miss the par putt for a 71. He had not missed the cut in a major since the 2014 PGA Championsh­ip.

 ?? Mike Ehrmann, Getty Images ?? Dustin Johnson acknowledg­es the cheering crowd Friday after he made a birdie on the seventh hole during the second round of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in Southampto­n, N.Y.
Mike Ehrmann, Getty Images Dustin Johnson acknowledg­es the cheering crowd Friday after he made a birdie on the seventh hole during the second round of the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills in Southampto­n, N.Y.

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