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Morikawa, Rahm, McIlroy cheer on Brookline at US Open

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BROOKLINE, Mass. (AP) — The storms dodged Brookline and the stars began to emerge Friday at the US Open.

Collin Morikawa showed signs of getting out of the pedestrian game at just the right time, matching a championship-low score with a four-under-par 66 to share the 36-hole lead with Joel Dahmen and a chance to win a third straight year. important.

He had a lot of company at The Country Club, a player in sight.

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Defending champion Jon Rahm played Morikawa and did his best to keep up with an eagle and a series of big par putts that felt just as valuable. Rahm had a 67 and was a shot behind in a group that included Rory McIlroy.

McIlroy, after a win at the Canadian Open, was never more entertaining.

He was two holes into his round when an errant approach landed on a waist-high fescue. She took a trick. And then another. The third down finally found the green and he holed a 25-foot putt to save a double bogey. McIlroy sped through the back nine with three birdies in his last four holes for a 69.

Not to be overlooked was Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, who chipped in from thick rough before the par-5 14th green for an eagle that brought the Texan back into contention with a 67. He was two shots behind. .

“It’s the US Open. No one has gone deep into it until now and it has escaped,” Morikawa said. “The last couple of days have given me a huge confidence boost heading into this weekend, and hopefully we can part ways somehow.”

Morikawa, Rahm and Scheffler have combined to win four of the last nine majors. And then there’s McIlroy, who has four majors on his own, but none since 2014.

“I think it’s great for the game of golf that the top-ranked players and the top players are up there, especially in the tournament where really the top player ends up winning,” Rahm said.

The idea of ​​the US Open is to identify the best players. Some of them require some introductions to the major championship contention over the weekend.

Start with Dahmen, the cancer survivor and everyman who will never be accused of taking himself too seriously, even if he takes his game seriously. He thought about withdrawing from the 36-hole qualifier twice last week, before it started and after the first round.

But he held on, and with a 68 on Friday, he is playing in the final group of a major for the first time. He joined Morikawa at 5-under 135.

The group one shot behind includes Hayden Buckley, who actually studied while in Missouri because he never thought playing golf for a living would work. He wasn’t at the US Open until he made a 20-foot birdie putt in a playoff for last place in his standings 11 days ago.

He was fading, like so many others, with three bogeys during a five-hole stretch around the bend when he got back on track. Birdies on the last two holes gave him another 68.

Also at 136 were Aaron Wise, with one PGA Tour win and nothing better than a tie for 17th in his previous nine majors; and Beau Hossler, who showed up over the weekend at the Olympic Club as a teen amateur in 2012 but hasn’t been heard from since in the majors.

They were examples that the open-to-all US Open doesn’t stop with just qualifying for the right to play golf’s toughest test.

Signs warned of the possibility of severe weather as the wind began to shake the trees in the late morning. The clouds dispersed and the wind died down in the late afternoon, allowing for better scores and a few fewer mistakes.

McIlroy never panicked after his double bogey. He took advantage of birdie opportunities on the manageable par-4 fifth and short par-5 eighth. And he finished strong to get into the mix, his main goal heading into the weekend.

In addition to the anticipation for McIlroy, I was seeing so many familiar names at the top.

“You want to face the best to try to get the best out of yourself,” McIlroy said. “And seeing Collin and Jon and Scottie and Sam (Burns) in there and whoever, that’s what major championship golf is all about. That’s what competition is all about.”

“And that is at the heart of this game. I’m excited to be in that mix heading into the weekend.”

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