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AFP
September 20, 2020

Reed seizes US Open lead with closing birdie at Winged Foot

Sports

AFP
September 20, 2020

NEW YORK: Masters winner Patrick Reed closed with a birdie to grab a one-stroke lead over Bryson DeChambeau after Friday’s second round of the US Open at suddenly formidable Winged Foot.

Windy weather, faster greens, tougher pin placements and dense rough sent scores spiraling over par just a day after the famed Mamaroneck, New York, course surrendered 21 sub-par rounds.

“You knew today was going to be brutal,” Reed said. “You know when those (US Golf Association) guys see you manhandle a course like yesterday, they were going to toughen it up.”

Tenth-ranked Reed hit only five fairways but relied on an impressive short game to shoot a level par 70 and stand on four-under 136 after 36 holes.

Reed, who took the green jacket in 2018, teed off on 10. He found the right rough off the ninth tee, then a deep bunker before blasting to inside six feet and making the putt for his fifth birdie against five bogeys.

“Getting into that bunker set it up nice for me and I was able to hit a nice 57(-degree wedge) in there to set up the birdie for me,” Reed said.

Ninth-ranked DeChambeau grinded out a two-under par 68, the day’s low round thanks to a closing eagle at nine, to stand on 137.

“I drove it pretty well considering the wind conditions,” DeChambeau said. “It wasn’t easy to do out there. I did it when I needed it most. I felt really comfortable.”

DeChambeau followed bogeys with next-hole birdies four times in his morning round, which he closed at the par-5 ninth by driving 380 yards, pitching to six feet and sinking his eagle putt.

“That was a fun way to finish off at a US Open. It feels great,” he said. “Confidence is at an all-time high right now.”

Spain’s Rafael Cabrera Bello and American Harris English, each chasing a first major title, shot 70 to share third on 138 with American Justin Thomas, the 2017 PGA Championship winner who followed a 65, the lowest US Open round ever at Winged Foot, with a 73.

Cabrera Bello opened with a 40-foot birdie putt at the par-3 10th, added a 26-foot birdie putt at the par-3 13th, made bogeys at five of his next 10 holes, then birdied three of his last four holes.

“The wind picked up significantly. That has made it really hard,” said Cabrera Bello. “The greens got a smidge quicker and a bit firmer. The pins were a little bit tougher. I’m sure the weekend is going to be very challenging.”

Thomas had a run of four birdies in five holes on the back nine and a double bogey at the first.

“I was far from having good stuff out there,” he said. “That was a grueling day. I cannot drive it like that this weekend.”

American Jason Kokrak was sixth on 139, the only other player under par overall after a 71.

“Extremely tough,” Kokrak said. “This wind is very difficult. If you don’t hit the fairway it’s tough to even get it to the green.”

The tournament was postponed from June by coronavirus concerns that forced a spectator ban and wiped out qualifying, requiring an exemption system to determine the field.

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, Belgium’s Thomas Pieters and Americans Brendon Todd, Xander Schauffele and Matthew Wolff shared seventh on 140.

“Definitely it’s twice as tough as yesterday with the wind,” Pieters said. “Back nine the wind got up. The conditions make it really tough.”

Matusyama and two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson each shot 69, the only sub-par rounds other than DeChambeau’s 68.

“Just going to keep getting tougher and tougher,” Watson said.

Fourth-ranked Rory McIlroy, a four-time major champion, and England’s Lee Westwood each followed 67s on Thursday with 76s Friday to share 22nd on 143.

World number one Dustin Johnson fired a 70 to join them on 143.

South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion, finished bogey-bogey-double bogey to shoot 74 and stand on one-over 141.

Tiger Woods, a 15-time major winner, and five-time major champion Phil Mickelson both missed the cut for only the second time in the same event after last year’s British Open.

Woods fired a 77 to finish on 150 while Mickelson shot a 74 to finish on 153.

“It’s frustrating that I’m not going to be here for the weekend,” Woods said.

“I enjoy the challenge this course provides,” Mickelson said. “I’m disappointed I didn’t play better.”