Johnson leads US Open by four after 'stupid' Poulter falters

Dustin Johnson

US Open, second round
-4 D Johnson (US); level S Piercy (US), C Hoffman (US); +1 T Fleetwood (Eng), H Stenson (Swe), J Rose (Eng), B Koepka (US), I Poulter (Eng)
Selected others: +3 M Fitzpatrick (Eng); +4 R Knox (Sco); +5 T Hatton (Eng); +6 P Casey (Eng); +7 R Fisher (Eng); +9 G McDowell (NI), J Spieth (US); +10 T Woods (US), R McIlroy (NI); +13 R Ramsay (Sco); +14 P Waring (Eng); +16 R Evans (Eng); +18 R Lumsden (Sco), J Morrison (Eng)

World number one Dustin Johnson leads the US Open by four shots after England’s Ian Poulter conceded he had a “stupid” finish to his second round.

Joint overnight leader Johnson shot a three-under 67 to get to four under at Shinnecock Hills in New York state.

Poulter had moved within one shot but a triple-bogey seven followed by a bogey at the last dropped him to one over with Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood.

Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth all missed the eight-over cut.

Fourteen-time major winner Woods (72) and McIlroy (70) both closed on 10 over while Spieth (71) finished with successive bogeys to miss out by one shot on nine over.

Americans Charley Hoffman (69) and Scott Piercy (71) head the chasing pack behind Johnson at level par.

Fleetwood hit the joint-lowest round of the day, with six birdies in his four-under 66, while Rose grafted hard for a level-par 70 to sit alongside Poulter (72), defending champion Brooks Koepka (66) and Henrik Stenson (70) in a five-way tie for fourth.

Problems for Poulter

Ian Poulter

Despite the wind calming and the greens softening for the afternoon starters, Poulter, who began on the 10th, dropped a shot at his first hole.

He played the next 11 holes in level par before making his move with three birdies in four holes.

But after finding the greenside bunker with his approach to the par-four eighth, Poulter hit his ball 30 yards over the green with his third.

“I felt stupid knifing the first one,” he said. “I felt even more stupid semi-chunking the next one and I didn’t do much better on the next one either.

“When you’re out of position on this golf course and you’re trying not to make another mistake, and another mistake, but you are, it just looks really stupid.”

After chunking his fourth 10 yards into deep rough, he hacked out short of the green with his fifth. His sixth, with the putter, went five feet beyond the hole but he regained his composure to sink his seventh shot.

Poulter then found sand with his second into the par-four ninth, and after chipping onto the green, two putted for a closing bogey.

He added: “If you had offered me one over and tied fourth at the start of the week I would have taken it.”

Superstar DJ

Johnson, who won last week at the St Jude Classic to return to world number one hit 12 of 14 fairways and is the only player under par after holing four birdies despite testing early conditions with wind and rain on the Long Island course.

Having started on the back nine, the highlight for the 2016 champion was a 45-foot birdie putt at the par-three seventh.

His only bogey of the round, and fourth of the week, came at the first after finding a greenside bunker and failing to get up and down.

The American, one of only three players to score under par among the early starters, is looking to become the first player to win the US Open immediately after a victory on the PGA Tour.

“The course is playing really long and it’s definitely tough out there, but I felt like i played a really solid round. I hit some nice pitches from around the greens,” said Johnson.

Fast finish from Fleetwood

Tommy Fleetwood

Fleetwood had a couple of birdies and a bogey in his opening four holes and closed with three birdies in five holes to move into contention.

The world number 12, who finished fourth at Erin Hills last year, missed just one fairway and two greens in regulation in a superb round.

“Today was survival at one point, but I just happened to get something going at the end. Overall. very, very good and I am happy to be off the course,” he said.

McIlory blown off course

Rory McIlroy

Four-time major champion McIlroy, who did not speak to the media after his first round of 10-over 80 conceded he had been “thrown off” by the wind on Thursday.

His second round of 70 included four birdies on the back nine, having played his first nine holes in four over.

“The first 27 holes were what killed me,” said the Northern Irishman who missed the cut at the US Open for a third successive year.

Like Poulter, Rose also found trouble on the last two holes of his round and finished with successive bogeys to drop to one over.

“I finished bogey-bogey on the Saturday at Merion and found that incredibly frustrating, but it all worked out. You will have moments like that in a tournament,” said Rose, who went on to win that US Open in 2013.

England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick posted a 70 and is tied for 11th at three over, with Scotland’s Russell Knox (71) and Calum Hill (69) in a group one shot back at four over.

Paul Casey had two birdies on his front nine to improve to one over, but dropped five shots on the back nine to sign for a second round of 73 and six-over total.

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BBC Sport – Golf

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