It’s not the kind of leaderboard that makes someone cancel their weekend plans to stay home and watch the last two rounds of the U.S. Open.
Paul Casey. Tommy Fleetwood. Brooks Koepka. Brian Harman.
One shot back. Jamie Lovemark. J.B. Holmes.
And then there is Rickie Fowler, also one back. Thank goodness.
Between them all you won’t find one winner of a major.
In fact, you have to go down to 19th place to find a winner of a major, Sergio Garcia at three-under.
This assortment at the top was made possible when the wheels came off Fowler’s game after his lights-out, record-setting 65 at Erin Hills golf course on Thursday. He was coasting along, playing par golf and hanging out at the top of the leaderboard.
Then, inexplicably, he lost his putting touch. He bogeyed the 11th, 12th and 13th holes and missed an easy birdie putt on the par five 14th.
Now, he’s still very much in play, at six under after shooting a 73.
Casey was the only golfer who went in the morning. Starting on the back nine, he exchanged a birdie on 11 with a bogey on 12. No harm, no foul.
Then came the par five 14th hole. His second shot drifted off the fairway, third shot was over the green in the fescue. He failed to advance his fourth shot more than a foot as the plants grabbed the club. It didn’t get any better when he made the green. Triple bogey, eight.
He then bogied the 15th hole, hitting it short of the green in two and failing to get the up and down. So there he stood at two under and seemingly out of the picture.
But then, starting at 17, he reeled off five straight birdies with putts of 13 feet, 7, 3, 11 and 10.
Casey said he couldn’t remember the last time he had five birdies in a row or an eight in a competitive round.
“Not every day you enjoy a round of golf with an eight on the card,” Casey said. “But, I’m a pretty happy man. Yeah, it was a bit of a roller coaster. … [It’s tough to get through] a U.S. Open or any major without some kind of hiccup.”
Koepka is one of those players that the smart guys like to put in their fantasy league. Lots of talent, just looking for that one break out moment.
This is his sixth year on the Tour and fifth U.S. Open. His best finish was fourth in 2014 at Pinehurst. He was 13th last year at Oakmont. He has won one tournament on the PGA Tour.
Koepka, playing the back nine first birdied four of his first seven holes. Tghen his game flattened out on the front nine, bogeying one and six.
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