19 Sep 2020 | Professional golf |

Winged Foot hits back, Reed leads US Open

by Martin Blake

Patrick Reed US Open image
Patrick Reed on his way to the US Open lead at Winged Foot today. Photo: Getty

The US Open – and Winged Foot – reverted to character today after an aberration on day one.

American Patrick Reed reached the top of the leaderboard on a day of carnage today, after Thursday’s opening round produced the easiest scoring day in tournament history.

Reed only needed an even-par 70 to grab the outright lead at four-under par. He is a shot ahead of fellow Presidents Cupper Bryson DeChambeau at three-under after the latter shot the day’s low round of 68.

Just three players – DeChambeau, Hideki Matsuyama and Bubba Watson -- went under par as the greens firmed up and the breeze came in the second round. Let’s call it the revenge of the USGA, which is infamously protective of par at this tournament.

Queenslander Cameron Smith is the best of the Australians tied 29th at four-over par. Four of the nine Australians made the cut, but none is in contention to this point.

Reed made five birdies and five bogeys in his round, rolling in a short birdie putt at the ninth, his 18th hole of the day, to regain the outright lead. This was the same hole that DeChambeau eagled today, hitting a 355-metre drive and only needing a pitching wedge to reach the green.

DeChambeau’s method does not sound like it would work around Winged Foot with its deep, punishing rough, but he is finding a way. Afterward, he said that he embraced the tough conditions of a US Open set-up.

“When I play well in these conditions, it's a lot more enjoyable,” he said. “But it is comforting yesterday when you feel like I can go after it and wind isn't affecting it that much, I'm hitting it well. I would personally say if I had to truly look back on it, I would say that this today is a more enjoyable test after I'm done because it shows who executed the shots the best for sure.”

The day had that train wreck feel about it that is familiar to the US Open. “I think it's relatable to a lot of players out there,” said DeChambeau. “They struggle with their game and they don't hit the greatest shots, and they like seeing carnage. I'm going to look this afternoon and do the same thing, be seeing, like wow, that's really difficult, because I experienced it and I appreciate it.’’

Reed did not bring his best but he was able to control the damage brilliantly. "You know, any time you play in the US Open you know that you're going to have one of those days that things just aren't quite going your way, you're not quite -- whether it's hitting quality golf shots or anything like that, and I felt like today was that day," he said.

"I felt like I left a decent amount of shots out there, felt like I was a little loose with some shots off the tee and also irons, and to be able to feel like that and come out and shoot even par around a day like today, it's definitely a positive and makes you feel good going into the weekend."

After Thursday, DeChambeau had been at the driving range until darkness fell, working on his distance control with his wedges. He is nothing if not dedicated.

“Yeah, I want it to play as hard as possible. I feel like there's so many holes out here that I can take advantage of that some people can't. Now, that doesn't mean that I'm going to win or anything.

“You've still got to execute, you've still got to hit the driver straight. If I'm hitting the driver far but all over the place, you can't make birdies from the rough. It's very difficult to. So I still have to work on hitting it straight while hitting it far. And that's a unique combo that I'm going to strive for, for the rest of my life.’’

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson is at three-over after a steady 70 and world No.2 Jon Rahm also is in the mix at one-over after a 72 today left him just outside the top 10. First-round leader Justin Thomas shot a 73 to dip into the group tied-third.

Tiger Woods shot 77 to miss the cut as his quest for a record-breaking 83rd tour win continues.

The weekend shapes as a battle of anti-heroes -- Reed the shotmaker versus DeChambeau the bomber. "It's completely different,'' said Reed. "You know, he sends it to the moon, and I hit it underneath the trees, he hits it over the trees. "

US Open leaderboard

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