Collin Morikawa is the familiar face at the top of the leader board through 36 holes of the 122nd U.S. Open, while Joel Dahmen is one most people won’t recognize. Doesn’t matter. They are on equal footing at 5-under-par 135 halfway through the national championship.
With his 4-under 66 on Friday at The Country Club, Morikawa shares the low round of the championship thus far with Adam Hadwin, which bests his previous low of 67 last year at Torrey Pines. Only 25 years old, Morikawa already has two major wins, including last year at the British Open, among five PGA Tour victories.
Dahmen, meanwhile, has one PGA Tour title and is competing in just his third U.S. Open at age 34. He missed the cut in his first two tries without breaking par in any round. But he has opened this week with a handsome 67-68 effort.
Five players are a stroke behind, including defending champion Jon Rahm and 2011 winner Rory McIlroy. The group two back includes world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler. No one should feel comfortable with a field this bunched.
“It will be a big weekend,” said Dahmen, who is known as a wise cracker on tour. “We don't tee off until 3:45 [Saturday]. I typically have to be home at 5 for dinner, so this will be different for sure.”
Here are 3 Things to Know heading into Round 3:
There was a 38-year gap between Ben Hogan winning his second straight U.S. Open in 1951 and Curtis Strange equaling the feat in 1989. It took another 29 years for Brooks Koepka to win his second in a row in 2018. Those are long gaps.
It might not take long to see it happen again. Maybe four years, if Jon Rahm has anything to say about it. And it looks like he might. Thanks to a 3-under 67 on Friday, Rahm occupies prime real estate on the leader board at 4-under 136, just a stroke behind Morikawa and Dahmen. On the way to victory last year at Torrey Pines, Rahm stood tied for fifth through 36 holes.
This U.S. Open thing must be growing on him. In six starts he has finished in the top 25 four times and top 3 twice.
“You wouldn't say it suits my game until I won last year,” Rahm said, “really because my performances haven't been great. But it is something I enjoy, especially the more I've played as a pro.”
Get ready for a different – and likely much tougher – examination for Round 3. A northwest wind will bear down on The Country Club, bringing cooler and drier weather.
The forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-to-high 60s and falling dewpoints that could remain through Sunday’s final round. Add winds gusting to around 20 mph and we have a recipe for a firmer and faster Open Course layout.
Watch also for increased difficulty on some of the longer par-4 holes, including Nos. 3, 10, 13 and 18, all of which will play into that wind, while a crosswind could make the 15th hole trickier. By the way, Nos. 10, 13 and 15 have been three of the four hardest holes through 36 holes.
On the positive side, players will get a helping push on both par 5s, 8 and 14. Not that they’ve needed it; the eighth has been the easiest hole and the 14th is third-easiest.
Bradley’s Ouimet Moment
Vermont native Keegan Bradley already shares one achievement with Francis Ouimet: Each won a major championship in his first start – two of just six men who have done it.
Maybe the New Englander, who loves all the Boston sports teams, can add another and win a U.S. Open at The Country Club. Yes, 109 years after Ouimet shocked the golf world in the 1913 championship, Bradley, 36, finds himself in the hunt after rallying from a poor start to post a 1-under 69 and 139 total, four back of the leaders.
Bradley, who won the 2011 PGA Championship, played his first five holes in 3 over par and found himself on the cutline. He then converted six birdies to climb into contention before a couple of bogeys dropped him into a tie for 16th place.
Seeing how the Celtics just lost in the NBA Finals, perhaps Bradley can give the Boston crowd something else to cheer for on Sunday without a Game 7 to watch.
Dave Shedloski is an Ohio-based writer who frequently contributes to USGA websites.