World No.6 Johnson in share of US Open lead

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Sergio Garcia of Spain (left) and Dustin Johnson of the United States look over a green during the second round of the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club on Saturday in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. AFP PHOTO

Sergio Garcia of Spain (left) and Dustin Johnson of the United States look over a green during the second round of the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club on Saturday in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. AFP PHOTO

OAKMONT, United States: Dustin Johnson powered through two punishing rounds at Oakmont on Friday (Saturday in Manila) to seize a share of the lead at the weather-disrupted US Open Golf Championship.

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World No.6 Johnson carded the first bogey-free round of the tournament with a first-round 67 that put him one shot behind unlikely first-round leader Andrew Landry.

He grabbed a share of the lead with a second-round 69 as some half the field tackled 36 holes on the demanding Oakmont course thanks to weather delays that knocked the tournament off schedule on Thursday.

“I’m in pretty good shape, so the physical part’s no problem,” Johnson said of the long day. “But definitely mentally you’ve got to make sure you stay sharp all day, because you can’t go to sleep on any shot out here.”

His four-under total of 136 had him atop the leaderboard with Landry, who hit just one shot on Friday but made it count.

Landry was standing over a 10-foot birdie putt at his final hole, the ninth, when play was halted for the day on Thursday.

The 28-year-old Texan, ranked 624th in the world, calmly knocked it in then took the rest of Friday off, and will start his second round on Saturday morning, with those that make the cut to then start the third round.

But for Oakmont’s fiendish greens, firming up despite the torrential rains of Thursday, Johnson could well have supplanted Landry.

He missed a string of birdie attempts from the 10-foot range, but said he couldn’t be unhappy with two birdies and a bogey in the second round.

“They’re so hard to putt,” Johnson said. No matter how close you are to the hole they’re tough to putt. “I hit so many good putts today that I thought were going in, and burned the edge or lipped out. That’s just how it goes. I mean, these greens are tough.”

Certainly, he said, he wasn’t haunted by memories of last year’s US Open, where he three-putted the 72nd hole to finish tied for second behind Jordan Spieth.

Asked if the memory of what happened last year weighed on him or motivated him, Johnson blithely answered “What happened last year?”

The leaders were chased by England’s Lee Westwood, who was three-under after one round.

Scott Piercy and Spain’s Sergio Garcia were in the clubhouse on two-under 138, both carding even par second rounds, while Ireland’s Shane Lowry was two-under through his first 18.

American Daniel Summerhays notched a remarkable seven birdies in a five-under 65 that put him in the clubhouse on 139, leading a group of seven on one-under.

“That was a round to remember,” Summerhays said. “I’m absolutely thrilled with my round and how I performed, especially on that back nine when you’ve already played 27 holes and you’re tired. That’s a lot of walking.”

Day, McIlroy struggle
World No.1 Jason Day and third-ranked Rory McIlroy, both touted as title contenders will instead be keeping an eye on the cut line.

McIlroy, the 2011 US Open champion, bogeyed the last three holes of his first round for a seven-over 77 that left him 11 shots off the pace.

He said the stop-start play on Thursday “definitely complicated” the first round.

“But when you shoot 77 everything is a bit complicated,” McIlroy added.

World number one Jason Day didn’t start the first round until Friday, but once he did his misery lasted twice as long as McIlroy’s.

The Australian’s first-round 76 included a double-bogey at the par-four seventh, where he was in two bunkers and needed two attempts to get out of one of them.

He had managed to regain some ground with three birdies and two bogeys leaving him five-over for the tournament with three holes remaining when play ended.

Phil Mickelson’s optimism that this could finally be his US Open year — after six runner-up finishes in the only Grand Slam he has yet to win — proved unfounded.

Mickelson was seven-over with two to play at the end of the day.

Spieth, aiming to become the first to successfully defend the US Open title since Curtis Strange in 1989 was two-over after one round and bullish on his chances of contending over what will be a busy weekend.

“A couple of tough breaks,” Spieth said. “ [I’m] still in it.”

AFP

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