ARDMORE, Pa. — Billy Horschel isn’t the only player near the lead looking for his first major championship, and Phil Mickelson has plenty of company from those who want to win their first US Open.
All five players who were tied for second at the conclusion of play on Friday, one shot behind Horschel and Mickelson, have never won a major. Four of the five – Steve Stricker, Luke Donald, Justin Rose, and Ian Poulter — have top-five major finishes in their career. Now they’re looking for that breakthrough.
“I’m excited to be in contention and have a chance,” said Donald. “Hopefully, I can throw a good one in tomorrow and really be in the mix come Sunday.”
Donald held the outright lead for a little while in the second round after two early birdies on Nos. 12 and 13 (he started at the 11th). The chip-in birdie on No. 13 was one of three 2s he had on his second-round scorecard; he added birdies at both front-nine par-3s, the third and ninth.
Rose opened his second round with two straight birdies, and made a short par save on the 18th to leave him one back.
“It’s fantastic. That’s the job of the first two rounds, to get yourself in striking distance,” Rose said. “Tomorrow is an important day, to hang around and give yourself a chance on Sunday.”
An unkind cut
Someone who won’t have a chance on Sunday is Keegan Bradley. The 2011 PGA champion and Hopkinton High graduate will miss the cut after shooting 77-75. Both rounds were marred by triple-bogey 7s. In the second round, it came on the 11th hole, ending any outside hope Bradley had of playing on the weekend.
Worcester native Scott Stallings was 4 over for the tournament with five holes to play in his second round. Marshfield’s Geoffrey Sisk has work to do if he wants to make the cut. Sisk was 4 over for his second round through nine holes and 12 over for the tournament. Jesse Smith of Dover, N.H. followed his opening 73 with an 81 and will also miss the cut.
What are the odds?
Carl Pettersson was ready to play his second shot from the fairway to the par-5 fifth hole when another ball came bouncing along, striking his own ball just as Pettersson began to take the club back. It was an errant drive from No. 2, which runs the same direction as the fifth.
“I managed to stop. I’ve never seen that or experienced that before,” said Pettersson, who is 7 over after rounds of 72-75. “Luckily, I wasn’t in my downswing, because if I would have missed the ball, I don’t know what the ruling would have been on that. Might not have been good. I regrouped and hit a decent shot after that.”
Bradley isn’t the only former major winner going home after two rounds. Merion roughed up a number of former champions, including Jim Furyk (77-79), Jose Maria Olazabal (75-81), Darren Clarke (80-75), Angel Cabrera (74-81), Zach Johnson (74-77), and Graeme McDowell (76-77), considered by some as a pretournament favorite.
“It’s that hard, it’s that difficult, it’s that long. I’m disappointed, of course. It’s not the way I wanted to play the last couple of days. But this place is very hard,” said McDowell. “I’m temporarily dejected, but that’s golf, and that’s the US Open. And this golf course will do that to you.”
Barring an unexpected collapse, there will be an amateur — or two, three, or four — making the cut, depending on what the number ends up being. When play was suspended because of darkness, there were two amatuers in the top 10, including Cheng-Tsung Pan, who was tied for second at even par, one shot behind Horschel and Mickelson. Michael Kim was 1 over. Both Pan and Kim were 2 under on their second rounds, Pan through nine holes, Kim through 11.
Kevin Phelan, the leading amateur after a first-round 71, was 5 over through nine holes and 6 over for the tournament. After a pair of 74s, Michael Weaver will wait and see if 8 over earns him two more rounds.
Those projected to miss the cut include Chris Williams (75-74), US Amateur champion Steven Fox (76-74), Gavin Hall (74-77), Max Homa (73-78), and Grayson Murray (83-81). Cory McElyea was 5 over for his second round and 16 over total.
There will be no Molinari double. Francesco Molinari (78-74) will miss the cut. He was trying to join his brother, Edoardo, as champions at Merion. Edoardo won the 2005 US Amateur, but didn’t qualify for this week’s US Open . . . It’s not often that you see a tour player swing and miss, but Kyle Stanley authored the dreaded whiff at the 16th hole of his first round, when he was trying to advance the ball from tall, heavy rough in front of the green. At one point, Stanley was 2 under on his first round, but he struggled from there. He’s 5 over (71-74) . . . D.A. Points made the only eagles of the second round, knocking in his second shot on the first hole . . . Martin Kaymer was 3 under through 12 holes of his second round, then gave all of that back with a triple bogey at the par-4 fifth. He shot 72 and is 8 over . . . Course yardage for Round 2 was 6,901, shortened slightly from Thursday by moving up tees on a pair of par-3 holes. The third hole was 203 yards, and the ninth 219 . . . Louis Oosthuizen, who opened with 75, withdrew before his second round with an unspecified injury . . . The first round, which began on Thursday at 6:45 a.m., was officially completed on Friday at 11:26 a.m. . . . Spotted at Merion on Friday: New Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly and Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps.