2020 U.S. Open Live Updates: Patrick Reed grabs 36-hole lead at Winged Foot
After an easier-than-expected Day 1 at Winged Foot, the second round kicks off Friday with a stellar leaderboard led by Justin Thomas. JT will watch all morning as the rest of the field tries to match (and supplant him) his lead as he gets going at 1:27 p.m. ET. All kinds of things can happen between then and now, and even afterward.
Here’s what you need to know for Friday’s second round. (This page will be updated frequently throughout the day with highlights, developing stories and analysis. Refresh the page for the latest.)
Friday’s U.S. Open quick links
Patrick Reed grabs 36-hole U.S. Open lead
Patrick Reed birdied the final hole of the day, the par-5 9th (his 18th), to take the solo lead at the halfway point of the 120th U.S. Open. Reed was even on the day and only three players shot under par. One of them, Bryson DeChambeau (two-under 68), is one back at three under.
Reed drops out of solo lead; Spieth, Tiger struggling
At about 5:25 p.m. ET, Patrick Reed failed to get up and down from a bunker on the long par-4 5th (he started on the back) and made bogey to lose the solo lead and drop into a tie for first with Bryson DeChambeau at three under. But that didn’t last. His drive on the next hole found the left rough, but he pitched it to about 15 feet and made the putt to get back to four under overall.
Then came the 7th, the same hole Reed aced on Thursday, but this time he missed the green with a wedge and duffed a chip, leading to a bogey and co-lead with DeChambeau once again.
Meanwhile, Tiger Woods is seven over on his round through 13 holes (10 over total), and Jordan Spieth is 10 over through 14 holes and 13 over total. Both are likely to miss the weekend.
The (justified) reason Bubba Watson is a ‘head case’
Bubba Watson was one of the few golfers in the morning groups who managed to break par on Friday at the U.S. Open. Watson’s second-round 69 was an impressive feat for any golfer in the field given the sadistic conditions that greeted players for most of the day, but it was even more impressive given the burden on Bubba’s mind for much of the week.
Watson hails from Pensacola, Fla., a town that has come into the national spotlight for falling directly within Hurricane Sally’s path of destruction. His goal for the week: give those back home something to smile about until he can be there assisting with the recovery himself.
New leaders at Winged Foot
Captain America has taken the lead at the U.S. Open. Patrick Reed is tied with Bryson DeChambeau for the lead as he approaches the turn at Winged Foot on Friday. Reed (-3) hasn’t done much to earn the lead spot, but on a day in which players are falling out of the red and into the black with stunning frequency, one over has been more than enough for Reed to retain the lead with Bryson.
The early struggles of Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas have only continued of late, with McIlroy at five over for the day and two over for the tournament and Thomas at three over on the day and two under on the tournament. But neither is in a situation as dire as Tiger Woods, who sits at six over after a double-bogey and is now in danger of missing the cut.
Early round struggles for Rory McIlroy, Justin Thomas
Justin Thomas has surrendered his solo lead through the early going in round two. Thomas (-4) is one over through four holes after bogeying the par-3 13th, tied with Patrick Reed for the lead. The amped-up conditions have caused problems early for just about everybody, with Rory McIlroy back to even par on the tournament after an ugly double-bogey.
One player who’s managed to (mostly) stay above the scrum in the early afternoon is Tiger Woods. Woods is just one over through six holes and in need of a second-round score at or near even to make it to the weekend.
A big finish as the afternoon groups tee off
Bryson DeChambeau has vaulted himself into contention at Winged Foot after finishing with an eagle on the par-5 9th hole. DeChambeau moved to three-under on the week after Friday’s 68, tying Bubba Watson for the low round of the day thus far.
As DeChambeau and the latest of the morning groups made their way back to the clubhouse, the afternoon groupings began teeing off at Winged Foot. Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and the leader, Justin Thomas are among the big names making their way around a windier, toothier West Course this afternoon.
68 could end up being the round of the day
Any player who plays Winged Foot in even par Friday will be thrilled. Under par? Even better. The round of the day will only be a couple under par; you can count on it.
Bubba Watson was three under through 17 today but, much like Tiger Woods on Thursday, he left his third shot short on 18 and it rolled back off the false front. He’d tap in for a double bogey and a 69 to be the first player signing an under-par scorecard for the second round.
Daniel Berger was next up with hopes of a 68, but the 18th reached out and grabbed him, too. Berger’s third shot also rolled back down to him off the false front and left him with the same play as Watson. He made his bogey putt — a brutal slider — and finished with an even-par score of 70.
Tiger Woods will be thinking about the cutline all day
Tiger Woods’ putter bailed him out on several occasions during the first round of the U.S. Open on Thursday at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., but he too many missed fairways (and too many bogeys) hindered his ascent up the leaderboard.
Woods, who teed off at 8:07 a.m. ET alongside Justin Thomas and Collin Morikawa, opened with a three-over 73 — playing the final two holes in three over. He’s eight shots behind Thomas, the clubhouse leader (five-under 65), with the afternoon wave just beginning to tee off. Woods was T69 when he finished.
Woods hit 6 of 14 fairways and 9 of 18 greens in regulation. He ended his round ranked second in Strokes Gained: Putting (+2.72), but 91st in Strokes Gained: Off the Tee (-0.64).
“I did not finish off the round like I needed to,” Woods said. “I made a bunch of putts in the middle part of the round. It seemed like most of my drives on the front nine landed in the fairway and ended up in bad spots, and I tried to stay as patient as possible, and unfortunately just did not finish off my round the way I needed to.”
Winged Foot is playing much more difficult Friday
While Thomas Pieters maintained his solid play through his first nine holes Friday, the rest of the field is having a difficult start. Rickie Fowler, for one example, began his day on the par-3 10th and four-putted for a double bogey 5. He then added another 5 on the par-4 11th and another 5 on the par-5 12th. Three over thru three is not the start you want anywhere.
Overall, the entire course is surrendering fewer birdies to start the day. As our friends at No Laying Up pointed out, the birdie rate has drastically fallen off to begin play Friday.
What does that mean for the afternoon? Well, it will take an impressive round to stay under par. Pieters himself was unable to play mistake-free on Friday. He turned to the back nine and bogeyed his first two holes, unable to bounce back on the 12th. He then added another bogey on 14 to drop further back from Thomas. It’s beginning to look like the best round of the day will likely be 68 or 67.
Was Round 1 too easy?
That’s the question we asked in Tour Confidential Daily Thursday evening. Here are a smattering of the responses:
Sean Zak, senior editor (@Sean_Zak): Clearly it played easy, but is there anything wrong with easing our way into this thing? There was no obvious benefit in terms of morning/afternoon draw. They won’t cut the grass again, won’t apply much water, and will toughen up the pin locations. I think today was just fine.
Michael Bamberger, senior writer: No. They had to get the players around before dark and barely did. This was the day to score. All good.
Alan Bastable, executive editor (@alan_bastable): It’s fall golf in New York. With such cool mornings and evenings, this course was never going to be Shinnecock in late June. If there was a miss today, it was the pins. Two aces on the same hole — that ain’t the Open, that’s 16 on Masters Sunday. But give this beast time. The rough will grow over the next three days and no doubt the crew will suck some moisture out of the greens. The Foot might, and likely will, do some a**-kicking yet.
Josh Sens, senior writer (@JoshSens): I would have liked to have seen it play a little tougher, but better to err on the side of forgiveness on Thursday. Get things too firm and fast right out of the gate, and you risk losing the course as the week goes on. There’s still plenty of time for them to toughen it up, which they will. The greens will get firmer. The pins will get less friendly. And the sadists among us will have lots to cheer about. The winning score will be nowhere as deep as where Thomas took it today.
Mother Nature is going to stiffen Winged Foot up
After day 1 at the U.S. Open, there are 21 players under par. The conditions presented by Mother Nature were rather tame. The wind barely blew and the course played less difficult than everyone imagined.
It likely won’t last.
Friday’s forecast will bring some weather that, at the very least, will make for a tougher conditions than what we saw Thursday. For starters, the temperature highs will be in the mid-60s, so at least five degrees colder than Thursday. Cool temps in the morning in the low- to mid-50s will lengthen the course before noon.
But that’s not all. The wind is expected to gust much more Friday than it did during the first round. Throughout the second round we can expect typical winds of 12 mph at the least and hanging in the mid-teens throughout the day. Will that raise the scores? It’s a very fair expectation.
Like thick rough? Here’s how to grow it yourself
1. Prep the grass in fall
Maintenance practices vary from one region to the next, according to such factors as climate, grass varieties, soil types and more. But all top-flight tournament setups require long-term planning. At Firestone, where the rough is a cool-season medley of bluegrass, rye and fescue, preparations for the late-summer WGC begin the previous fall. As autumn approaches, Napora and his crew make their rounds of the rough, looking for bare patches and any other areas in need of extra TLC.
“The goal is to get the grass well established before winter, so that it’s nice and lush and healthy when it comes back in the spring,” Napora says. Because grass seeds won’t take root if you simply spread them over dead turf, part of the job involves raking any dead patches clear so that seeds fall on friendly soil. But Napora and his crew don’t stop there. They also slit seed, using a machine that does exactly that: it cuts slices in the ground, dropping seeds into those slits as it goes.
This is beneficial for a couple of reasons. Not only do the seeds have a better chance of finding a healthy, happy home in the soil, but they also have less chance of being gobbled up by birds and other creatures that feast on seeds that have been scattered on the ground.
2. Juice the grass in spring
Come early April, as the weather warms and the grass reawakens, Napora and Co. get back at it, treating the grass with both fertilizer and weed control to prevent aggressive crabgrass from intruding. A month or so later: They deliver an application of insecticide. By now, the golf season is in full swing and the grass along the fairways should be hale and hearty but Napora doesn’t let it get overly long. Not for everyday play, anyway. He and his crew keep up their routine mowing. For everyday play, they keep the rough at 2 and a quarter inches. To maintain it at that height, they mow it twice a week.
About six weeks before the tournament, they hand-water and fertilize around the banks of bunkers, because those areas tend to endure a lot of stress with foot traffic and other wear and tear. About three to four weeks before the tournament, the entire rough gets fertilized yet again. At that point, Napora says, it’s nice to get some rain, which helps kick the fertilized grass into overdrive. If no rain falls, Napora can always increase his irrigation. But, he says, “no matter how much water we throw down, there’s nothing better than mother nature’s water.”
Has Phil Mickelson run out of magic?
The most intriguing character in this playing of the 120th U.S. Open? Tiger? Bryson? Rory? No, people. It’s Phil Mickelson, who’s still living down that fateful finish at the last Open at Winged Foot, in 2006. This Open has always been about Lefty.
So we sent our senior writer Michael Bamberger out to Winged Foot to track Phil’s every move on-site Thursday. Here, with (almost) real-time updates from the ground, is how Phil fared in his first round. It wasn’t good.