ARDMORE, Pa. — For the third time in five U.S. Open Championships at Merion Golf Club, the 36-hole leader will be in red figures.
Not very deep into those figures mind you, as Billy Horschel and Phil Mickelson finished two rounds at 1-under-par 139.
The East Course at Merion is soft after being drenched with rain several times over the last week, but it still has its teeth. And the USGA’s setup is challenging the players like any other Open would.
“There (were) people talking about 62s and 63s at the start of the week and I mean, I never saw that at all. I still think that something very little under par is going to win,” said 2011 champ Rory McIlroy. “Or if not that, around even par.”
That is how the USGA likes it.
• BILLY HORSCHEL, thinks the setup is tough, but not what the USGA wants: “This is nowhere close to what the USGA wants, I can tell you that. The ball is stopping in the fairway, you may get a little bit of roll if you fly the drive or hit a little low punch iron off the tee.”
• ADAM SCOTT, agrees with McIlroy that no one will go deep to win this week: “It’s possible, I mean, I still see those 4- or 5-unders possible. It’s difficult, but it’s still possible with it soft. You just have to hit every shot perfect. And for one day, I mean, it’s possible. So someone who just makes the cut could have a great round Saturday and kind of move their way back into the tournament. I don’t see that beyond the realm of possibility. It’s out there for sure.”
• MATHEW GOGGIN, was exhausted and explained how tough the day was: “The only thing harder than 30 holes of U.S. Open golf in one day is 31 holes. This is hard. Mentally, it’s very difficult.”
• JIM FURYK, on his disappointment of not playing well near his hometown of West Chester, Pa.: “I never played well at the tournaments at Aronimink or when they were at Waynesboro. I had four events in the Philly area and I never really played well in any of those. I wanted to play well, but obviously you press, you try a little too hard, and as I said there was a lot of things that went astray in my game.”
• GRAEME MCDOWELL, said it was just a hard week: “It’s that hard, it’s that difficult, it’s that long. I’m disappointed, of course. It’s not the way I wanted to play the couple of days. But this place is very hard.”