ERIN, Wis. – Where did all of the big guns go?
Well, that’s no mystery. Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day were among the casualties to Friday’s cut at the U.S. Open. Why that came about was for a mix of reasons.
What does that leave us? An eclectic mix of names all bundled near the lead. Some fans may very well not recognize half the contenders.
“It’s funny, I’ll sign some autographs and kids will be like, ‘Dad, who is that?’ ” said Xander Schauffele, tied for eighth at 5 under.
The top 18 players on the leaderboard? They’ve combined for zero major titles. Several have never sniffed contention at one of the big four.
But that doesn’t mean we are in for a weekend snooze-fest. Maybe the opposite.
Think about it, four players are tied for the lead. Twelve are within two, and 32 are within five.
None of the quartet at the top has proven able to run away from a regular PGA Tour field, let alone a major championship one.
Co-leader Tommy Fleetwood said Saturday would be “a very cool experience,” but that doesn’t mean he’s ready. Brian Harman, another tied at the top, wouldn’t even go that far.
“I have no expectations,” Harman said. “I have no idea how the weekend is going to go, no one does.”
He’s right: With this group, anything could happen. This is the largest 36-hole co-lead in a U.S. Open since the 1974 iteration at Winged Foot. Nearly half the remaining field of 68 is in contention at the moment, and with every player starting the third round within eight shots of the lead, a victory from a player who made the cut on the number is conceivable.
Maybe the biggest guns – in fact the top three in the world – won’t be around Saturday. But this is a leaderboard worth checking out.
“The leaderboard is shaping up quite nicely,” said Brandt Snedeker, tied for eighth at 5 under. “I think you’ve got a lot of great players on top of that leaderboard and you’ve got some guys that hit it forward, some guys that putt it great. Some guys that do everything pretty good.”
Uncertainty is high heading into Saturday, which may give us a soft course after more overnight rain.
Will we see some separation? Could we be setting up for a big playoff? Is a newbie major contender going to surprise?
There’s plenty of questions left to be answered. But no matter how things appear, the mindset isn’t changing.
“You never know what one shot’s going to count for,” said Rickie Fowler, tied for fifth at 6 under.
Especially on this leaderboard.