Halfway through, this U.S. Open is everything we could hope for

Jon Rahm is among the contenders at the U.S. Open.

Jon Rahm is among the contenders at the U.S. Open.

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BROOKLINE, Mass. — At the halfway point of this year’s U.S. Open, what more could you ask for?

Sure, we’re missing Tiger. But we’ve got lions (Rory McIlroy, T3) and we’ve got bears (Jon Rahm, T3) and we’ve got oh my (Joel Dahmen, T1).

The top three golfers in the world are all within two shots of the lead. That’s because Jon Rahm, World No. 2 and the defending champion, played the two par-5s in three under par and the other 16 holes in even par and looks in control of every piece of his game.

“It was kind of about as enjoyable as a U.S. Open walk can be, really,” Rahm said.

Which superstar breaks away from the pack on Saturday at the U.S. Open?
By: GOLF Editors

It’s because World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler was two over par through six but then found everything all at once. Like Rahm, he birdied 8 and like Rahm, he eagled No. 14, and like Rahm he shot 67, and like Rahm he came off the course high on confidence.

“I knew I was swinging at it well. I hit it really good yesterday, I hit it really good today,” he said.

It’s because World No. 3 Rory McIlroy made the best double bogey of his entire career at the par-4 third. Then he birdied 5, and he birdied 8, and 12 and 14 and 17, too.

“Certainly whenever you get on the crest of a wave, you try to ride it as long as you can,” McIlroy said. “And I’ve gotten a little bit better at trying not to ride the other ones downwardly.”

They’re all looking up at the two co-leaders, Collin Morikawa and Joel Dahmen, a contrast in styles if there ever was one. Morikawa’s young, polished, dialed. He’s 25 and a two-time major champion. Dahmen is a veteran. He’s honest, unfiltered and on the biggest stage of his life. He’s 34 and has just one career top 40 in a major.

“Right now my game feels really good,” Morikawa said. “The last few days is a huge confidence booster for me heading into this weekend, and hopefully we can kind of make some separation somehow.”

“It is unbelievable to me how many people know my name or yell for me out there. It’s weird,” Dahmen said.

That’ll be the final-group dynamic on Saturday when Morikawa and Dahmen show up for their 3:45 p.m. (yeah, you read that right) tee time. This is a tournament made for prime time, and prime time is what we’ll get.

The Country Club will look all that much better in the fading weekend light. Through 36 holes — to the USGA’s delight — we’ve heard plenty of praise and exactly zero serious complaints about the golf course. Brookline is old-school and quirky and really, really good.

It was always going to be difficult for this week’s on-course action to surpass the rumor-mill sideshow. The whispers of who was or was not headed to LIV continued on Friday, but they’d faded to the background. LIV’s figureheads turned to sidenotes, too, with Phil Mickelson’s week done by early afternoon and Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed each in the middle of the pack.

What comes next is anybody’s guess. This could be McIlroy’s weekend to turn back the clock. It could be Hayden Buckley’s introduction to the larger world. It could be the third leg of Morikawa’s career grand slam or the second edition of Rahm’s U.S. Open takeover or Scheffler re-planting his flag at World No. 1.

The beauty is in the not-knowing. We’re in good hands in Brookline.

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