For Collin Morikawa, the last couple of months have been a search to regain the form that led to a pair of major titles. His five starts since a solo fifth at the Masters in April have resulted in no better than a tie for 26th. That stretch includes a missed cut at the Memorial Tournament and a T-55 in last month’s PGA Championship.
Those aren’t results that people are accustomed to seeing from the world No. 7.
Maybe all the affable Southern California native needed was a visit to Boston, and specifically The Country Club to cure his issues.
After a solid 1-under-par 69 in Thursday’s opening round of the 122nd U.S. Open Championship, Morikawa matched the championship’s lowest round – a 66 – on Friday to share the 36-hole lead with qualifier Joel Dahmen.
One stroke back are defending champion Jon Rahm (69-67), 2011 winner and four-time major champ Rory McIlroy (67-69), Aaron Wise (68-68) and qualifiers Hayden Buckley (68-68) and Beau Hossler (69-67), who holed out from a greenside bunker on the par-4 ninth, his last of the day, to cap a birdie-birdie finish. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler (70-67) is among the group two strokes back at 3-under 137.
Should Morikawa close the deal over the next 36 holes, the five-time PGA Tour winner would become the quickest player in history to attain three major titles. This is only Morikawa’s 11th major-championship start since he turned professional after graduating from the University of California-Berkeley in 2019. Peter Thomson notched his third major title, the 1956 British Open, in start No. 12, while Lee Trevino (1971 British Open) and Ralph Guldahl (1939 Masters) needed 15 starts.
Of course, 36 holes remain, but if anyone has the temperament and skill to navigate those hurdles, it’s the seemingly always calm Morikawa.
And it looks like whatever issues had leaked into one of the most aesthetically pleasing swings in golf, have been at least temporarily resolved.
Last week, Morikawa spent time at his Las Vegas, Nev., residence trying to figure out what was going wrong with his normal left-to-right shot shape. Nothing seemed to click, so he has resorted this week to a 2-yard draw.
“I think what it proves is just you can play this game with many shots,” said Morikawa. “I remember the first time I played with Tiger [Woods], and he hit every shot that called for it. Pin is on the right; you hit a little cut. Pin is on the left; you hit a little draw.
“This is just going to hopefully make my iron play and make my game a little bit more well-rounded rather than just hitting a cut. But this week we're just going to work with what we have, and right now it's a little baby draw.”
Prior to his 36-hole final qualifier on June 6 in Powell, Ohio, Dahmen considered withdrawing and using U.S. Open week to rest for the remainder of the PGA Tour season. He didn’t think his game, which relies on precision over power, translated to major-championship setups. The Country Club isn’t a bombers’ paradise, however, and the Washington native has hit 28 of 36 greens to tie for first in the field.
“This is really cool, but it's really all for naught if you go lay and egg on the weekend,” said Dahmen, who owns one PGA Tour win since joining the circuit in 2016. “This is fun, but it would be really fun if I was doing this again Saturday and Sunday.”
McIlroy, bidding to become the first player in the post-World War II era to claim the U.S. Open a week after winning a PGA Tour event (RBC Canadian Open), rebounded from a double-bogey 6 on the par-4 third hole to get back into contention at 4 under.
Rahm used an eagle 3 on No. 14 to get his round going, and he offset a bogey on No. 1 with birdies on the 305-yard fifth and 547-yard, par-5 eighth.
The 64 competitors who survived the 36-hole cut will play Round 3 on Saturday, with the first tee time at 9:49 a.m. EDT. Peacock will stream live coverage from 10 a.m. to noon, with NBC picking up the coverage from noon until 8 p.m.
- The cut (low 60 and ties) came at 3-over 143 with 60 professionals and four amateurs playing the weekend.
- Phil Mickelson, a six-time U.S. Open runner-up, was among the luminaries who missed the cut. The 1990 U.S. Amateur champion and six-time major winner was joined by 2021 U.S. Senior Open champion Jim Furyk, 2012 U.S. Open champion Webb Simpson, 2021 U.S. Amateur champion James Piot, past Masters winner Sergio Garcia, Viktor Hovland, world No. 1 amateur Keita Nakajima, and local favorites Michael Thorbjornsen and Fran Quinn, at 57, the oldest qualifier in the last 40 years. Thorbjornsen, the 2018 U.S. Junior champion, rallied from an opening 77 to shoot a 69 on Friday.
- Four amateurs made the cut after none made it last year at Torrey Pines. Travis Vick, a 2021 U.S. Amateur semifinalist, led the way at 1-under 139. The University of Texas standout was joined by 2021 U.S. Amateur runner-up Austin Greaser, Texas A&M All-American Sam Bennett and reigning U.S. Mid-Amateur champion Stewart Hagestad.
- Of the 64 players who made the cut, 23 were qualifiers, including three who survived both local and final qualifying: Chris Naegel, Sam Stevens and Chris Gotterup.
- Cameron Young registered the 48th known hole-in-one in U.S. Open history when he aced the 165-yard sixth hole with an 8-iron. The last holes-in-one came in 2020 at Winged Foot by Will Zalatoris and Patrick Reed, both on the seventh hole in Round 1.
- World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and his good friend, No. 9 Sam Burns, are sharing a house this week, along with Burns’ swing coach, Brad Pullin, and Scheffler’s caddie, Ted Scott. Scheffler and Burns are a combined 5 under par.
- Alex Fitzpatrick, who caddied for his older brother, Matthew, when he won the 2013 U.S. Amateur at The Country Club, was in attendance on Friday. The two-time Great Britain & Ireland Walker Cup competitor just recently completed his eligibility at Wake Forest and has turned professional.
“We don't tee off until 3:45 [p.m.] tomorrow. I typically have to be home at 5 for dinner, so this will be different for sure.” – Joel Dahmen on being in the final pairing on Saturday
“Yeah, we got lucky. Jon [Rahm] and I were talking late in the round that for a few holes that it didn't look great, and then I think we got kind of a good draw out of it. A lot of the day kind of calmed down, was really nice, really sunny.” – Collin Morikawa, on the afternoon thunderstorm that skirted the area
“It's such a unique design to where you have options off the tee, and you can really pretty much choose whatever you want, and that's why you have on the leader board so many players that hit it a bit different in length off the tee.” – defending champion Jon Rahm
“I really like the course. It's very challenging. I've just gone out with the strategy, frankly, to just try and make a par on every hole, try not to get too greedy on shots that sometimes that you are kind of licking your chops. You've just got to rein it in a little bit and basically understand that every green in regulation is a win in a U.S. Open. Fortunately, I was able to make a few birdies late in the round, but with that being said, if I had made 18 pars today, I would have been quite happy.” – Beau Hossler (4-under 136) on his strategy
“I think this week I've found enough to make birdies, but my putting has just changed a lot. I've gotten a lot better speed with a putter change this week, and I feel a lot more confident inside of 10 feet, and that's kind of been my struggle all year.” – Hayden Buckley (4-under 136) when asked how he’s changed from last year at Torrey Pines when he followed a 69 with an 82
“I started using this Neuropeak Pro, kind of breathing mechanism, and that's helped me a lot, just focusing on my daily breathing. Then I started listening to my fiancé more on diet issues, so that helped.” – Nick Hardy (3-under 137) on changes to his lifestyle
“The golf course has been fantastic. The setup has been great. I think it's tough but it's fair. You get rewarded when you hit good shots, and when you get out of position it's really difficult. I think that's how the U.S. Open should be.” – Sam Burns (2-under 138) on the setup through two rounds
“I feel like I'm kind of an under-the-radar person. I don't really feel like there's much chatter going around with me. Rory won last week [in Canada], Tiger was at the PGA. I've been No. 1 in the world for a while now, and it doesn't really feel like it. I can show up and do my thing and then go home and rest.” – Scottie Scheffler
David Shefter is a senior staff writer for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.