Relentless Fowler leads US Open as McIlroy chases

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Rory McIlroy and Brooks Koepka
Rory McIlroy shares a joke with friend and playing partner Brooks Koepka
-10 R Fowler (US); -9 W Clark (US); -8 R McIlroy (NI), X Schauffele (US); -7 H English (US); -6 MW Lee (Aus), D Johnson (US); -5 S Scheffler (US), S Bennett (US); -4 C Smith (Aus)
Selected:-1 V Hovland (Nor), B DeChambeau (US); Level B Koepka (US), C Morikawa (US); +1 M Fitzpatrick (Eng), S Garcia (Spa); +2 J Rahm (Spa), T Fleetwood (Eng)
Full leaderboard

A record-breaking Rickie Fowler holds the halfway lead at the 123rd US Open but has Rory McIlroy in hot pursuit.

Eight birdies helped Fowler to 10 under and a one-shot lead over Wyndham Clark, with McIlroy just a shot further back in third alongside Xander Schauffele.

Defending champion Matthew Fitzpatrick hit a hole-in-one while Dustin Johnson had a quadruple bogey in a level-par 70 to sit four off the lead on six under.

A furious Jon Rahm just made the cut at the exclusive Los Angeles Country Club.

The world number two snarled his way around the Californian course during a frustrating round in which he posted four of his six bogeys on the back nine.

The Spaniard almost snapped a wedge as his temper got the better of him before he signed for a three-over 73 to finish on the cut line of two over par.

Many expected tournament organisers to toughen up the North Course at Los Angeles Country Club after a day of record scoring on Thursday, but there were still plenty of birdies to be had on Friday and a remarkable third hole-in-one of the tournament.

Another birdie blitz from resurgent Fowler

For a player who failed to even qualify for the US Open last year after tumbling down to 173rd in the world rankings, it has been a relentless attacking display from Fowler.

The 34-year-old is chasing his first major victory and far from resting on his US Open record round of 62 on Thursday, came out firing again with three straight birdies making him the fastest player ever to get to 10 under in this event.

Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler matched Martin Kaymer’s 36-hole US Open scoring record

In a rollercoaster round containing just four pars, Fowler carded six bogeys but eight birdies to take his total to a championship record 18 in his first two rounds, while his 36-hole score of 130 tied Germany’s 2014 champion Martin Kaymer for the lowest in US Open history.

“I’m in the lead, but we’re only halfway there,” said the American. “Being in the lead is nice, but it really means nothing right now.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to challenge myself and go out there and try and execute the best I can.”

Schauffele, who matched Fowler’s 62 on Thursday, did not bring the same fireworks on Friday, but after three consecutive bogeys he finished with two birdies to sign for a level-par 70 to join McIlroy on eight under.

The reigning Olympic champion will play with McIlroy in the penultimate group out on Saturday at 23:39 BST.

World number one Scottie Scheffler is not too far away on five under after a 68, with Open champion Cameron Smith rounding out the top 10 on four under after a 67.

Bryson DeChambeau and Viktor Hovland are on one under, while last month’s US PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka is at level par.

McIlroy mounts back-nine response

Teeing off on the 10th in the early wave, things did not go McIlroy’s way in his first nine holes and he was in danger of sliding out of contention with three bogeys and a solitary birdie, but the response was emphatic.

Six birdies followed, four in his last five holes including coming within inches of making a hole-in-one at the par-three ninth, in contrast to his bogey finish in the first round.

“It was a great way to finish the round,” McIlroy told NBC. “It was nice to finish the round off properly and put myself right into the mix going into the weekend.”

Like McIlroy, Dustin Johnson is also in contention for a second US Open title, despite a nightmare start when he took eight on the par-four second. The American fought hard to deliver a level-par round and show his title credentials.

“Making a quad on number two definitely didn’t get the day started off how I envisioned it,” said Johnson.

“But to battle back and still be right in the mix going into the weekend, I’m definitely proud of the way I came back and finished off the round.”

Johnson was joined on six under by Australian Min Woo Lee, who carded the lowest round of the day, a five-under 65.

American Clark set the pace for the early starters, putting together a superb round of 67, with just one bogey, to get to nine under after some nerveless putting on the greens.

The 29-year-old won his one and only PGA Tour title last month and this is a huge US Open performance for him after missing the cut on his two previous appearances.

Fitzpatrick’s first ace, big names miss the cut

Matt Fitzpatrick celebrates his first professional hole-in-one
Matt Fitzpatrick celebrates his ace with playing partners Cameron Smith and Sam Bennett

Although generally unhappy with his performance, especially off the tee, Sheffield’s Fitzpatrick had a moment to remember on the short 15th, although he only realised he had aced it thanks to the crowd’s reaction.

“It was so exciting and a first ever professional hole-in-one,” said the 28-year-old from Sheffield, who carded a level-par 70 to end the day one over.

“As soon as I hit it I thought that it had a good chance of going close. My hand was a bit sore after all the high fiving.”

Fitzpatrick squeezed into the weekend on one over alongside Tyrrell Hatton, Patrick Reed and Sergio Garcia, while Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowry and Tommy Fleetwood scraped through on two over.

Phil Mickelson missed the cut on his 53rd birthday, with the six-time runner-up looking destined to miss out on the one major to elude him, while Jordan Spieth was another big name to miss out on three over.

The 2013 US Open champion Justin Rose is also heading home after letting his round slip away from him with two late bogeys as he finished at four over.

Meanwhile, two-time major winner Justin Thomas had three double bogeys in his nightmare 11-over round of 81 to finish on 14 over.

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