US Open: Who’s Going to Move on Moving Day?


Jun 19, 2015; University Place, WA, USA; Jordan Spieth hits out of a bunker on the 18th hole in the second round of the 2015 U.S. Open golf tournament at Chambers Bay. Mandatory Credit: Michael Madrid-USA TODAY Sports

Cut day at the US Open was brutal, nomoreso than to Tiger Woods, who finished his 2nd and final round at an astronomical 16-over par and T154th in the field, not quite dead last.  Tiger’s put his clubs in his courtesy car and headed home, as has Rickie Fowler, who didn’t do much better than his playing partner for the first two rounds.  The likable Houston teenager, Cole Hammer, didn’t make the cut either but I’m betting that he, like Lucy Li at the 2014 Women’s US Open, will hang around, watch some golf, and collect autographs.  After all, some of his idols are going into Moving Day on the front page of the leaderboard.

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Although my crystal ball is a bit cloudy, and although this year’s US Open could be shaping up into a four-horse race on Sunday, I have several players on my Moving Day watch list.

It goes without saying that during the Saturday round at Chambers Bay Dustin Johnson, Jordan Spieth, Branden Grace and Patrick Reed are going to do everything they can to separate themselves from each other and the pack that’s chasing them.

That should be fun to watch.  They play different styles of golf, but by the numbers they’re playing mighty close to equal on the Chambers Bay track.  Will the long bomber prevail over the targeted precision hitter?  Will the steady, foxy Patrick Reed who reminds me of a Destrier out-pace the other three?

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Does the South African have what it takes to keep pace with the heavy hitters? With 69, 67 on his scorecards he’s managed it for 36 holes and there’s no reason he can’t do it again Saturday.  But I’m not sure of Grace’s staying power and I’m looking for some slippage in his 3rd round.

Jordan Spieth will have the edge when the sun sets Saturday.  He’s not as long off the tee as Johnson and he hasn’t outpaced Johnson on the green at Chambers Bay, but on the whole he has a stronger short game and a Cool Hand Luke type of mental game.  A look at Johnson’s 2nd nine on Friday tells the tale for me.  Moving Day will hinge on putting and what that space between the players’ ears is doing while they’re golfing.

What about Reed? I think his emotions may come into play on Saturday.  He puts enormous pressure on himself and on Moving Day every shot is going to count.  He’ll need to stay focused on the one he’s getting ready to make, not the one he just finished and can’t re-do.

I’m also looking at Henrik Stenson — who went the wrong way on Friday.  With his two-over par second round he’s going to need a repeat of his first round 65 to get back into contention.

Ben Martin, who’s at 3-under par and trailing Spieth and Reed by two shots, is very likely to move up on Saturday.  Martin got a taste of victory last fall at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open and I keep remembering that 46-foot eagle putt on the 16th that put him on top.  I think the guy has the right stuff and he can pull it out under pressure.

Like Stenson, Brian Campbell went the wrong way on cut day but he’s continuing to hold the top amateur spot.  I may be dreaming, but I can see him taking a big breath and getting back to work on Saturday.  Like Martin, even if hits a birdie streak, it probably won’t be enough to take him to the top of the board but he’ll still have Sunday and a shot at history if he can start his move on Saturday.

What about some of guys who were odds-on favorites going into the Open?

To be sure, Rory McIlroy seemed to be playing in a slump.  He’d missed two cuts– the BMW PGA Championship and the Irish Open — coming in to the US Open.

But Rory is, well, Rory, and I admit that I expected more from him this week.  He turned up the heat during his 2nd nine on Friday.  Can he do it again on Saturday? Certainly he has the game in his bag.  Will he?  I hope so because with McIlroy mix Sunday could involve some golf for the ages!

I’d hoped for more from three guys in black numbers who flirted with the cut line — Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia and Bubba Watson — but it wasn’t to be.

I think all of us who’ve watched Lefty struggle to overcome the Bridesmaid Syndrome were hoping this would be his year.  It wasn’t, not even with his secret weapon, that fancy one-of-a-kind wedge.  He’ll be around for the weekend but starting the 3rd round trailing the young kids by 8 shots.

Neither Garcia, who goes into the 3rd round with a 10 shot deficit, nor Watson, who has joined Tiger and Rickie on the sidelines was able to deliver.  In their case, Chambers Bay won.

Next: Is Tiger Woods Hurting His Playing Partners?