World number one Scheffler sets US Open target

Masters champion Scottie Scheffler in the hunt for his second major of the year

World number one Scottie Scheffler is in a tie for the clubhouse lead midway through round two of the US Open.

Masters champion Scheffler hit three birdies and an eagle in a three-under 67 to join fellow American Nick Hardy (68), on three under par at Brookline.

England’s Matt Fitzpatrick is one back after a 70, alongside Sam Burns (67) and overnight leader Adam Hadwin (72).

Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy and England’s Callum Tarren are in the late wave, heading out at three under.

A blustery Brookline Country Club in Boston made for tougher scoring conditions than on Thursday, with just eight players shooting under par scores from the early starters.

Brooks Koepka matched Scheffler’s round of 67 to sit on level par, and is well in touch given how tightly packed the field is.

Fitzpatrick, who won the US Amateur title at this course in 2013, had to battle hard to stay close after making three bogeys in a row on his back nine, but the Yorkshireman’s perseverance paid off with birdies on his 14th and 17th holes.

Although Fitzpatrick ended the day where he started it on two under, he remained just a shot off the lead and the score may look a lot better with the later starters tackling toughening conditions.

Matt Fitzpatrick at the US Open
Matt Fitzpatrick lining up a putt at Brookline

Chip-in sparks Scheffler into life

Scheffler started his back nine at one over but followed a birdie at the 13th with a stunning eagle at the par-five 14th, chipping in from 55 yards out of the thick rough.

It was all the more remarkable given Scheffler had earlier duffed a chip from the fairway on the fifth hole, which ended up rolling back down the hill and further away than his initial shot.

The 25-year-old followed up with a birdie at the 16th and had chances on the final two holes to take the outright lead but was unable to hole the putts.

Scheffler is looking to continue an incredible season as he goes into the weekend chasing a second major and fifth tournament victory overall this year.

Last man Hardy makes a move

Nick Hardy
Qualifier Nick Hardy is challenging for the lead at Brookline

PGA Tour rookie Hardy continued the theme of this US Open of players from way down the rankings challenging at the top of the leaderboard.

The 26-year-old only secured his fourth US Open appearance after Sunday’s Canadian Open, as he became the 156th and final player to officially make the field as an alternate from qualifying in Springfield, Ohio.

South African MJ Daffue qualified outright ahead of Hardy at Springfield, and he looked like striking out in front at Brookline after carding four birdies in a front nine of 32.

However, a nightmare back nine saw him record three bogeys and a double on 18, but at one under he is still in contention.

Koepka challenging as Mickelson goes home

Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka matched the best round of the early starters

Koepka made an eagle on the same hole as playing partner Scheffler, but in a different fashion as he tamed the 616-yard monster with two muscular blows.

After a booming drive and a crunching iron shot from 271 yards, Koepka rolled in a 14-foot putt to perfectly illustrate the combination of sheer brute force and pinpoint accuracy needed to succeed at the US Open.

A back-to-back US Open champion in 2017 and 2018, Koepka has a stunning record in this event, but he followed that eagle with a bogey.

At level par he will fancy his chances at the weekend, but one man who will not be competing is Phil Mickelson, who added a slightly improved 73 to his nightmare 78 on Thursday to finish on 11 over.

Recent LIV Golf signing Mickelson has finished second six times but never managed to win the US Open, and it may remain the one major to evade his grasp given the future difficulties he could face getting into the event.

The USGA, which runs the US Open, allowed LIV Golf players to compete this week but has suggested it may make it harder for them to do so.

Fellow LIV Golf competitor Dustin Johnson shot a three-over 73 to sit on one over alongside fellow former US Open champion Justin Rose, who also carded a 73, and US PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas, who signed for a 72.

Belgium’s Thomas Pieters produced a remarkable finish as he birdied four of his final six holes to jump up to level par.

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