ARDMORE, Pa. — It won’t quite rival that second round in 1951 when nobody broke par at the legendary “monster,” as Ben Hogan famously called Oakland Hills Country Club. And nobody threatened to replace the infamous W.E. Stoddard atop the list for highest second-round score. (Stoddard, poor guy, signed for 106 at Baltimore CC.)
But on a day that started with an autumn-like mist and ended with summer trying to break through, the boys at the 113th U.S. Open experienced a most demanding day. And the list of those who’d like to forget it is quite lengthy and filled with notable names.
That begins with Adam Scott, whose emotions are far different than when he last left a major, the Masters, in April. Though he’ll likely make the cut, his emotions right now at Merion Golf Club can be colored blue, which is not nearly as satisfying as his green prize earned two months ago.
“I just lost my rhythm a little bit early this morning and then fought with that all day,” Scott said of a day that will not rank among his most memorable when this pro golf business is over with. Having birdied his 11th hole to get to 3 under Thursday night, Scott returned to Merion in cool morning weather and never warmed up. For the day, he played 25 holes in 10 over, so rounds of 72-75 leave him at 7 over – projected to be just inside the cut.
When play ended just before 8:30 p.m. with 68 players still on the course, 65 players were inside the cut at 7-over 147. Good news for Scott and Lee Westwood, another who struggled (70-77), and also for fourth-ranked Matt Kuchar, who wore a wide smile as he walked off in darkness.
OK, so Kuchar always wears a wide smile, but truth is, he got inside the cut at 7 over in surprising fashion. Walking up the 18th fairway, Kuchar was 7 over and figured he was in comfortably by the 10-shot rule. “Then Scotty (Vail, Brandt Snedeker’s caddie) told me they got rid of that rule,” Kuchar said. Some anxious moments, at least until he got into the scoring area and discovered that the 7-overs were going to make it.
Good thing he birdied the par-4 16th with an 8-iron from 153 yards to 10 feet. “I couldn’t see anything (from the bottom of the 16th fairway) except for a TV tower. I can’t believe the ball stayed up on that slope (of the green), but I’ll take it.”
Amazing, how 7 over can look to different golfers. Kuchar (73) feels fortunate, knowing he needed a birdie on his 34th hole to get in. But for Scott, it was particularly disheartening, given the way he left the course a day earlier.
“I was a little disappointed with the way I played today,” said the Aussie, who hasn’t missed a cut in the majors since the 2011 U.S. Open. “I would have liked to have made some putts.”
From a stroke behind to start the day, Scott’s day unraveled quickly – a sloppy bogey at the 12th, another at 14, then he pulled his drive left and out-of-bounds and made double at 15. He added another bogey at 17, then made just one birdie mixed in with six bogeys in his second round.
“They just slipped away too easily,” said Scott, though he was hardly alone. On a day when the field average was a robust 75.253 when play was stopped and all flavors of bogeys outnumbered birdies by a whopping 764-245 count, there were plenty of notable names on the casualty list. To whit:
• No. 7 Brandt Snedeker made one birdie in two days, yet was 6 over and inside the cut line with three holes to play. He missed the green at 16 and made bogey, then made another at 17. With 74-74, he’s 8 over and will have to wait until late Saturday morning to see if he plays in Rounds 3 and 4.
• Graeme McDowell, No. 8 in your world order and a former winner of this championship, shot 76-77 and will miss the cut for the first time in eight starts.
• No. 9 Louis Oosthuizen opened with 75 and withdrew.
• No. 11 Westwood experienced an inexplicable reversal of fortunes. After finishing off a solid level-par 70, he made seven bogeys and a double to shoot 77. The good news is, he’ll apparently stretch his streak of cuts made in this championship to nine.
• It was a rough two days for No. 12 Keegan Bradley. He made nearly as many triple-bogeys (two) as birdies (three) in shooting 77-75 to miss a major championship cut for the first time in his brief PGA Tour career.
• No. 16 Bubba Watson played Nos. 9-12 in 6 over, then bogeyed 18 to shoot 76. But at 7-over he, too, will sneak into weekend play.
• No. 19 Dustin Johnson failed to make a birdie in a round of 77 that leaves him at 8 over. When he left the course he was outside the cut and will need to wait until late Saturday morning to see if that changes.
• Angel Cabrera posted his highest U.S. Open score (81), which on top of his opening 74 left him well outside the cut.
• Jim Furyk missed the cut for just the third time in 19 U.S. Opens – and in a most miserable way, too. It was his highest 36-hole score (77-79).
• Zach Johnson shot 74-77 and has now missed the cut in five of his 10 starts in this championship.