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Johnson in command at US Open, Woods likely to miss cut

Dustin Johnson of the United States chips to the 14th green during the second round of the 2018 US Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on June 15, 2018 in Southampton, New York
AFP

Southampton (United States) (AFP) – Dustin Johnson continued his mastery of Shinnecock Hills on Friday, firing a three-under-par 67 to take command of the US Open as Tiger Woods stared at a missed cut.

Shinnecock Hills presented a different face as Thursday’s gusting wind gave way to morning mist with stretches of wind-driven rain.

Johnson was more than equal to all of it, his 36-hole total of four-under-par 136 making the world number one the only player under par for the tournament midway through the second round.

“Dustin was in complete control of what he was doing,” said Woods, who had a closeup view of Johnson’s magisterial effort as a playing partner of the world number one.

“He’s hitting the ball so flush and so solid. I know it’s windy. It’s blustery. It was raining early. But he’s hitting right through it.”

England’s Tommy Fleetwood showed a score could be had at Shinnecock with an impressive four-under 66. That put him in the clubhouse on one-over 141 alongside Sweden’s Henrik Stenson, who carded a second-round 70.

England’s Ian Poulter, who started the day tied for first with Johnson, Scott Piercy and Russell Henley at one-under, opened with a bogey and remained at even par for the tournament through six holes, with American Charley Hoffman even through four.

“I felt like today was another really solid round,” said Johnson, who regained the world number one ranking with a US PGA Tour victory in Memphis last week.

“A couple of times where I hit a couple of bad iron shots every time I felt like I was able to save par, at least give myself a really good look at par.

“My only bogey I made today I still had a decent look at par — a 10- 12-footer for par.”

Woods, looking for a round in the 60s to keep him alive for the weekend after his opening 78, settled for a two-over-par 72.

The 14-time major champion Woods finished strong, with birdies at his last two holes, but at 10-over-par 150 he looked unlikely to make the halfway cut.

“I don’t think you can be too happy and too excited about 10 over par,” said Woods, who made a double bogey at the par-four first a day after opening the tournament with a triple bogey there.

In the fairway off the tee, Woods found deep, rain-soaked rough with his second shot. His third shot rolled through the green and his pitch left him 14 feet, from where he two-putted.

Johnson’s only bogey of the day came at the same hole, when he was unable to get up and down from a greenside bunker.

– ‘Good one’ –

But after two birdies in his first nine holes, Johnson would add two more coming in, including a 45-foot putt at the par-three seventh, that took its time getting to the hole then teetered in to a massive roar from the crowd.

“That was a good one,” said Johnson, who watched it all the way. “I knew about halfway there it was on a really good line if it would just get to the hole — it dropped right in the front door.”

Woods, let down by his putter all week, sounded a touch envious discussing Johnson’s efforts on Shinnecock’s difficult, sloping greens.

“Every putt looked like it was going to go in,” Woods said.

Johnson’s methodical march toward a second US Open title looked all the more impressive as many of the world’s best continued to struggle.

Phil Mickelson, whose latest bid for a US Open title that would give him a career Grand Slam was dealt a body blow with a first-round 77, was one-over through seven holes and flirting with the cut.

Fourth ranked Jordan Spieth, coming off a 78, was even for the day with a birdie and a bogey through seven.

And four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, trying to salvage something after his first-round 80, was two-over through seven holes.

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