Shinnecock swallows Shubhankar hopes, Johnson leads

Shubhankar Sharma suffered heartbreak at the 9th hole as his hopes for a full week were swallowed a double bogey

Shubhankar Sharma during round one of the US Open

June 15, 2018: The beasts are out in force at the deceptive Shinnecock Hills Golf Club. On the second day of the 118th US Open, the treacherous course continued to torment golfers with a relentless rigour. Shubhankar Sharma saw his hopes of making the weekend evaporate literally on the final hole despite playing with plenty of valour and purpose.

Dustin Johnson was operating on a lonely as he drew clear from the field with a towering performance amidst the ruins in Long Island. The world No.1 shot 67 on Friday to gain a four stroke advantage over Scott Piercy and Charley Hoffman.

Johnson made four birdies and a lone bogey in the second round. Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood produced the standout performances of the day, shooting 66 on Friday.

“I felt like I played really well,” said Koepka, 28, who sat out 16 weeks and missed the first major of the year, the Masters, to rest an injured left wrist. “It was unfortunate [his start], just hit a few bad drives. And if you do that out here, it’s going to penalize you pretty bad.

“I felt like I was playing solid. My iron play was pretty good. The putts were going in. I felt like I hit good putts yesterday. Nothing went in. Today, they were kind of bouncing in. … It was nice to see some go in, and I think I’ve got these greens a little more figured out today.”

Shubhankar was resolute in his quest for excellence in major competition, getting well in time to New York seeking some experience around these undulating meadows in Southampton. After a battling 74 on Thursday, Shubhankar needed a similar effort in the second round to secure a spot for the weekend.

The cut fell at 8-over and there was no shortage of illustrious men sitting out this weekend. That list included Tiger Woods, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Jason Day, Sergio Garcia among a litany of big name golfers.

Shubhankar was playing Friday with plenty of patience as wind and the lay of the land started to impose itself for a second day running. The 21 year old started on the 10th, absorbing a couple of early bogeys.

The spirited Indian some of the damage from bogeys on 10 & 14 with a brilliant 26 foot birdie putt at the 15th hole. As he made the turn, Shubhankar was 5-over and looking like a solid bet for a place in the middle of the table.

Even when he took a pair of further blows – bogeys came at the 1st and 4th holes – there was no imminent threat, or so it seemed. He missed a seven footer on the fourth to fall to seven over, good enough to remain inside the top 50.

But tragedy befell Shubhankar when he three putted from inside ten feet at the ninth. That double bogey cost him a place for the weekend, dashing the hopes of millions of his Indian fans around the world.

The big highlight of Johnson’s round was a 45 foot monster putt at the seventh hole.

“Yeah, that was a good one,” said Johnson. “I knew, obviously, about halfway there it was on a really good line if it would just get to the hole.”

“There’s still a lot of golf left,” said Johnson. “There’s still 36 holes left no matter what position I’m in. Going into tomorrow, I’m going to stick to my game plan, stick to trying to play the holes how I have the first couple days and see what happens.”

USGA Notes

The cut came at 8-over 148 (64 professionals and 3 amateurs) and the casualties included U.S. Open champions Tiger Woods (2000, 2002, 2008), Jordan Spieth (2015), Rory McIlroy (2011), Martin Kaymer (2014), Graeme McDowell(2010), Ernie Els (1994, 1997), and Lucas Glover (2009), as well as U.S. Senior Open champion Kenny Perry and reigning U.S. Junior Amateur champion Noah Goodwin. This was the first year the USGA granted exemptions to the U.S. Junior Amateur and U.S. Mid-Amateur champions.

Speaking of the U.S. Mid-Amateur, reigning champion Matt Parziale shot a second-round 73 to make the cut, becoming the first mid-amateur to do so since Trip Kuehne in 2003 at Olympia Fields. Fellow mid-ams Stewart Hagestad, the 2016 champion, and National Hockey League referee Garrett Rank missed the cut.

Spieth was in position to make the cut with four consecutive birdies from No. 13, but he bogeyed his last two holes, including a three-putt bogey on No. 17.

Jimmy Walker, the 2016 PGA champion, became the 12th player in championship history to record two eagles in one round, holing out from the fairway on No. 4 and converting an 18-foot putt on the par-5 16th.

Besides Parziale, two other amateurs made the cut: rising college seniors Will Grimmer (Ohio State) and Luis Gagne(LSU).

Seven players who survived local and sectional qualifying to play in the championship proper survived the cut: Mickey DeMorat, Calum Hill, Grimmer, Gagne, Chris Naegel, Dylan Meyer and Cameron Wilson.

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