Home SPORTS Golf-Bland sets U.S. Open pace, Matsuyama flirts with cut

Golf-Bland sets U.S. Open pace, Matsuyama flirts with cut

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June 18, 2021

By Andrew Both

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Reuters) -Englishman Richard Bland, in only his fourth major appearance, upstaged some of the game’s biggest names to grab the early U.S. Open second-round lead on Friday while Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama was at risk of missing the cut.

The 48-year-old Bland, who only qualified for the U.S. Open after picking up his first European Tour title at last month’s British Masters, fired a four-under-par 67 to reach five under on the week as the wind started to pick up at Torrey Pines.

“The old saying is you get knocked down seven times, you get up eight,” said Bland. “I’ve always had that kind of attitude that you just keep going. You never know in this game, you just keep going.”

Bland started on the back nine and reached the turn at two-under. He started to pull away with three birdies over his next six holes but a bogey at the par-three eighth, where he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker, cut into his lead.

Former British Open winner Louis Oosthuizen, who shared the 18-hole lead with Russell Henley, made a nine-foot birdie at the last for an even-par 71 that left him one shot off the pace.

Twice Masters champion Bubba Watson, who missed the cut in five of his last seven U.S. Open starts, birdied five of his final six holes for a four-under-par 67 and was a further shot adrift with world number three Jon Rahm (70).

Henley had just started his round while Italian Francesco Molinari and Spaniard Rafa Cabrera Bello, who were both a shot back after the opening round, were also among the late starters.

Oosthuizen started early on Friday to complete the final two holes of his fog-delayed first round and was cruising along in the second round until he failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker at the par-four sixth.

The South African then dropped another shot at the par-three 11th where his tee shot settled in a right greenside bunker.

MATSUYAMA STRUGGLES

World number five DeChambeau (69), who began the day six shots adrift, started on the back nine and bogeyed two of his first three holes but followed with birdies at 13 and 16 before an eagle at the par-five 18th where he drained a 24-foot putt.

DeChambeau then mixed a birdie with a bogey in his three holes out of the turn to get back to even par. He offset a late bogey with a closing birdie to get to even par on the week.

Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama began the day two strokes off the lead but was at risk of missing the projected cut of two over par after a five-over 76 left the Japanese world number 15 at three over on the week.

Matsuyama got off to a rough start that saw him card a double-bogey at the par-four 10th where his belt snapped during his second shot. He dropped another four shots over his next three holes and was unable to recover.

Among the players who are two shots back of the 18-hole co-leaders and part of the afternoon wave are twice U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka and world number six Xander Schauffele.

Phil Mickelson, a record six-times U.S. Open runner-up playing a month after becoming golf’s oldest major winner at 50 by claiming the PGA Championship, had yet to tee off but will have work to do to make the cut after an opening 75.

(Reporting by Andrew Both; Writing by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ken Ferris)