U.S. OPEN

3 Things to Know: Round 2 of 123rd U.S. Open

By Ron Driscoll, USGA

| Jun 15, 2023 | Los Angeles, Calif.

3 Things to Know: Round 2 of 123rd U.S. Open

There are no certainties when setting up a U.S. Open course, particularly one that has never hosted the championship. On Thursday on the North Course at The Los Angeles Country Club, a pair of record scores were posted in the morning wave as the layout’s bounce was softened slightly by mist, and the wind stayed light and variable. Another mitigating factor thus far is the lingering “June Gloom” that has tamped down temperatures and kept the bermudagrass rough from sprouting vigorously. The George C. Thomas Jr. design still vexed a number of major champions; six of them shot 2-over 72, five carded 73s, and 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose posted a 76.

Here are 3 Things to Know about Round 2:

Stating Their Cases

The leader board is peppered with familiar names, and a fair number of them have ties to the Golden State. Among those who are “California dreaming” about a U.S. Open title after Round 1 are the two players who shot record 8-under-par 62s: Rickie Fowler (Murrieta) and Xander Schauffele (San Diego), as well as 2020 champion Bryson DeChambeau (Clovis), who sits at 3 under, and local favorite Max Homa (Valencia), who shot 68.

They are seeking to join eight players who have previously won a U.S. Open in their home state, one of whom repeated the feat (Tiger Woods). Before Woods, of Cypress, won in 2000 and 2008 at Pebble Beach and Torrey Pines, respectively; Scott Simpson (San Diego) won at The Olympic Club in San Francisco in 1987 and Georgia native Jerry Pate prevailed in 1976 at the Atlanta Athletic Club. Billy Casper, like Schauffele a San Diegan, won his second Open in 1966 at Olympic. The first to do it was Massachusetts native Francis Ouimet, at The Country Club in 1913.

Will a California native come through in his home state for the fifth time?

Much Better Than Average

The scoring average in Round 1 eclipsed the all-time record for the championship by nearly a full stroke, as the 156-player field averaged 71.39. The previous low average was 72.29 at Baltusrol in 1993, while the second-lowest before Thursday was in 2020 at Winged Foot, when the average was 72.56.

It will be interesting to see how the field scoring average plays out in Round 2, based on the way things went in the two previous lowest Round 1 averages. At Baltusrol in 1993, the Round 2 average went up just one-tenth of a stroke to 72.4. In 2020 at Winged Foot, the average ballooned by nearly three strokes, to 75.28. In that championship, 21 players were under par after Round 1, and the number slipped each day until by the end of Round 4, champion Bryson DeChambeau was the lone competitor under par. Will the scoring average climb on Friday?

Cut Line Watch

Omar Morales, of Mexico, a rising junior at nearby UCLA, hit the opening tee shot of the championship and proceeded to shoot a  bogey-free, 3-under 32 on the front nine. Although Morales struggled over his final nine holes, he managed to card a 1-over 71. That strong showing by the amateur puts him in the mix for making the weekend, but as the first one off, he probably didn’t expect that he would find 55 players ahead of him going into Round 2.

The top 60 and ties will make the weekend, and among those on the wrong side of even par after Day 1 and tied with Morales at 1 over are two-time champion and winner of the recent PGA Championship Brooks Koepka, 2022 champion Matt Fitzpatrick and world No. 4 Patrick Cantlay. They will have some work to do on Friday to make the weekend, as will two-time major champion and local product Collin Morikawa, who also stands at 1 over.

Ron Driscoll is the senior manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at rdriscoll@usga.org.