'One of those days' as McIlroy finds trouble in Erin Hills rough

Newly branded as the "ultimate test in golf", the U.S. Open has always been famed for its toughness and Erin Hills, the longest ever layout for a U.S. Open, was expected to add to that hard-man reputation.

Phil Mickelson officially withdrew from the U.S. Open field on Thursday to attend his daughter's high school graduation in California.

Paul Casey rode a rollercoaster to the second-round clubhouse lead at the US Open on Friday (June 16), surviving a hair-raising trip that included a gut-wrenching triple-bogey and a thrilling run of five straight birdies.

England's Andrew Johnston was pleased with his first round display at the US Open but he admits the course will be a constant battle.

This might have been more than anyone was expecting.

Charley Hoffman, Bill Haas, Harris English, Marc Leishman and Brendan Steele also finished Round 2 at 4 under.

With just one past major champion (Martin Kaymer at 4 under) among the 19 players within three shots of the lead through two rounds at Erin Hills, that streak could stretch to seven.

Rory McIlroy sprayed the ball all over the place. The world's fourth-ranked player birdied six of his first eight holes, shooting 6-under 30 going out.

Henrik Stenson. Alex Noren.

Wet conditions helped produce low scores in round one, but Casey noticed a difference in difficulty at Erin Hills on Friday. The Englishman has roared back to life with four straight birdies and is back to being one shot off the lead. He set the target early under warm sunshine, and even as the wind tapered in the afternoon, no one could catch him.

Golf fans have been spoiled lately in the sense that they've witnessed for six straight major championships the emotional theatre of players breaking through for their first major victories.

He had a chance to match Jonny Miller's U.S. Open record for low round in relation to par, but he settled for par on the 676-yard 18th.

South Korea's Si Woo Kim, who won the Players Championship in May, was a shot behind after covering the back nine in 34 and picking up a shot on the first.

And they had even more company. He kept it in the short grass, the secret to Erin Hills that wouldn't appear to be that hard with some of the widest fairways for this major. "So it's just nice to see it come along at the right time". As a cautionary measure, guests would be given complimentary bottled water at all four hydration stations throughout the duration of the tournament. There have been no reports yet of anyone getting sick.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the pilot at this time", the USGA said in a statement.

McIlroy put most of his difficulties down to his lack of competitive golf. It was 1 over at Medinah in 1990. But then he three-putted from long range on the 13th and the 14th, and lost all hope when he missed the green on the 17th while going after the flag. The defending champion shot a 73.

"I felt the most calm I have in a major in a long time this week", he said. I was hacking around in the rough and did not feel it once.

Another U.S. Open first for Xander Schauffele. I'm looking forward to it very much. His round would have been better had it not been for two bogeys in his closing holes. His withdrawal marked the end of a golfing era with the 117th U.S. Open becoming the first major to not include Mickelson and/or Tiger Woods since the 1994 Masters. I was just trying to show what we have in some spots.

McIlroy said he would be hitting the practice ground this weekend. Jason Day also tangled with fierce fescue and had two triple bogeys in his round of 79. "Yeah, it was a bit of a roller coaster".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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