ERIN, Wis. – Paul Casey turned in a scorecard with an abominable snowman, a triple-bogey 8 on the 14th hole that included a three-putt from 9 feet.
Yet the 39-year-old Brit was all smiles following his second round at the US Open at Erin Hills.
“Not every day you enjoy a round of golf with an 8 on the card,” Casey said. “But I’m a pretty happy man. Yeah, it was a bit of a roller coaster.”
Casey’s 1-under 71 on Friday might not look impressive at first glance, but he had plenty of reasons to be happy. Casey enters the weekend in a four-way tie for first place at 7 under for the tournament after overcoming a horrid stretch on the back nine, his starting nine on Friday morning.
His roller-coaster round began in second place at 6 under, but he quickly fell back after bogeys on 12 and 15 and a triple on 14. But Casey answered back in a big way, stringing together five straight birdies from holes 17-18 to 1-3.
“The course was just drier,” Casey said of Friday’s round. “A tiny fraction more wind today. The tees, some of the tees were farther back. You know, it was wonderful to see that there was no knee-jerk reaction to [Thursday’s] scores. Incredibly fair.”
Rickie Fowler was the darling of the first round, firing a flawless 7-under 65 while avoiding the fescue and all 138 sand traps. And he kept it going on the front nine Friday, shooting 2 under with no bogeys and sinking a 51-foot putt for birdie on No. 7.
But Fowler enters the weekend in a three-way tie for fifth place at 6 under, one stroke off the lead, after falling apart on the back nine in the second round. Fowler made it 28 holes without a bogey, second in US Open history behind Rory McIlroy, but then bogeyed his next three holes, Nos. 11-13. His putter let him down with three putts each on 12 and 13, but Fowler picked himself back up and made pars over the final five holes for a 1-over 73.
“Kind of a fine line,” Fowler said. “I’m playing the weekend. I have a tee time on Saturday, so you just learn along the way to never really give up.”
A shortened course
Erin Hills played at 7,839 yards on Friday, six yards shorter than Thursday, which was the longest course in US Open history . . . Amateur Scottie Scheffler, a rising senior at Texas, made the cut at 1 under with his older sister on the bag. Callie Scheffler played golf at Texas A&M . . . Hideki Matsuyama, No. 4 in the world, and Chez Reavie, No. 140, each shot the low rounds of the day, a 7-under 65. Matsuyama had seven birdies and no bogies, including a six-under 30 on the front nine. And Reavie made eight birdies and a bogey . . . Danny Willett, the 2015 Masters champion, withdrew before Friday’s round because of a back injury after an 81 on Thursday . . . A 94-year-old Wisconsin man died of apparent natural causes on Friday afternoon at the US Open, according to a statement from the Washington County (Wis.) Sheriff’s Department. The tournament also saw the crashof an advertising blimp and discovery of E. coli bacteria in the drinking water at fan hydration stations on Thursday.Ben Volin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin