Jun 18, 2015; University Place, WA, USA; Brian Campbell hits his tee shot on the 18th hole in the first round of the 2015 U.S. Open golf tournament at Chambers Bay. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
With Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson in the house at 5-under par the pace has been set for the 2015 US Open. The next step is the cut, and the burning question for today revolves around who’ll be around to play the weekend and who’ll probably be sitting it out. Five of the amateurs, about 32% of the amateur field, are starting their 2nd round at +1 or better and have a good chance of playing the full 72 holes.
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Setting the cut line at the US Open became fairly straightforward in 2012 when the cut rule was changed. The pre-2012 standard was all players within 10 strokes of the lead made the cut and played the weekend. In a situation with a tightly-packed leaderboard the field could be huge. The 2012 revision solved that issue: the top 60 players (including ties) make the cut and play the weekend.
A simple count down the leaderboard going into the 2nd round projects the cut line at 2-over par going into the 2nd round. That number is likely to change by the end of the round, but who among the 16 amateurs in the field are starting their 2nd round at Chambers Bay inside the top-60?
Brian Campbell is playing hot golf. At 3-under par and two shots off the lead, he’s right there on the first page of the leaderboard and, as I projected, very likely to make the cut. The Illini standout has made good use of his 2014 experience at Pinehurst #2. He recovered nicely from a double on the 7th and closed out his first round with an impressive birdie putt. If he repeats his 1st round performance we’ll get to watch him slug it out with some big names.
Lob and Smash
I expected the 2014 Mark H. McCormack medalist Ollie Schniederjans to also deliver a strong 1st round and he didn’t disappoint. At 1-under par Schniederjans, too, is starting his 2nd round inside the top-60 in the field and he’s keeping good company. Phil Mickelson, Geoff Oglivy, Branden Grace and Colin Montgomerie are all right there with him.
Nick Hardy, Campbell’s Illini teammate, is a surprise I didn’t see coming. He’s young and doesn’t have much big stage experience — he’s one of the US Open rookies — but he delivered a consistent steady game on Thursday. While Campbell and Schniederjans were up and down, with a birdie here and a bogey there and both put a double on their card, Hardy balanced out a pair of bogeys with a stunning eagle on the par-4 12th and went to the house at even par. He should be feeling pleased to be alongside Sergio Garcia, Kevin Na and Hideki Matsuyama. His game is certainly measuring up nicely.
At 1-over par Beau Hossler and Denny McCarthy are flirting with the cut line but still one shot ahead of it if my projection is on target.
I have a close watch on Hossler. The big Texas boy has the power to deliver a strong 2nd round and he has the big stage experience — a T29th at the 2012 US Open and Junior Ryder Cup team competition — to stay cool under fire. That’s exactly what he’s going to need on Friday. He was ahead of the field in fairways hit off the tee and getting to greens in regulation in the 1st round at Chambers Bay but his putting was sloppy. Maybe he got the greens figured out and will deliver a better 2nd round.
Like Nick Hardy, Denny McCarthy is a US Open rookie, but he played in the 2010 US Amateur that was held at Chambers Bay, and while its a different track than it was five years ago, McCarthy bring to this week the advantage of having before competed on this ground. If McCarthy can focus his drives he could make a move up the board on Friday because he’s long off the tee and did an average job on the putting surface on Thursday.
Of course, the darling of the 2015 US Open is Cole Hammer. We all want him to do well but the 15-year old who weighs about as much as a sack of feathers is playing against fully-sized men on a golf course that’s long and tough. He’s 10% shorter off the tee and he’s having some trouble with accuracy as well. At 7-over par the young Mr. Hammer is starting his Friday round with a serious deficit and while I’d love to see him play the weekend that’s probably not going to happen for this plucky teenager. Still, he’s ahead of Rickie Fowler and Tiger Woods!