The last of the full 156-man field is out on the course for Saturday's restart of the second round of the U.S. Open, and it appears that no one will be joining Billy Horschel and Phil Mickelson in red numbers. The two co-leaders on Friday night are the only players under par, but there were a handful of golfers, yet to complete their round, within striking distance on Saturday morning.
Unfortunately for those yet to finish, the conditions at Merion most likely mean you'll be dropping shots as opposed to gaining ground. That was the case for Ian Poulter, who finished Friday as one of just seven players at even-par or better with five more holes to play. Those five holes, however, comprised the brutal finishing stretch at the East Course that has punished players all week and made it more likely that Poulter would fall off the pace as opposed to acquiring a share of the lead.
Poulter is often referred to as a one of the best "grinders" in the game -- someone typically unaffected by bad breaks, a bad hole, or extreme conditions. The test that the USGA set up for the second round flustered most golfers into compounding mistakes, but Poulter can usually bear down. The precocious Englishman, however, couldn't navigate those five finishing holes unscathed on Saturday and finished with two bogeys in the last three holes, including at Merion's most difficult 18th. At 2-over, he's currently tied for 10th and will be in the final set of pairings once the cut is made. But he still got a bit of a bad break having to wake up before dawn and get to the course to finish up. He'll now sit and wait until late afternoon before heading out again for his third round.
Cheng Tsung Pan and Michael Kim, two amateurs playing out of the Pac 12, have also dropped shots on their way into the house. Pan, like Poulter, went to bed Friday at even-par but he's also getting hammered by that five-hole finish, carding back to -back bogeys on Nos. 14 and 15 as he works his way in. Kim, the college golfer of the year out of Cal, has also dropped two shots on his way in and stands at 3-over.
The day started with 68 players needing to finish before the field could be cut down to the top 60 and ties. Based on what's happened so far, it appears the cut could settle at 8-over, a true U.S. Open line. As for Saturday conditions and scores
The last groups out in the second round still have four holes to play, but here's the top of the leaderboard as the cut and third round rapidly approach:
|T10||Cheng Tsung Pan (a)||2||15|
|T14||Michael Kim (a)||3||17|