Collin Morikawa climbs to top of US Open leaderboard with 4-under-66; Tie with Joel Dahmen after 2 rounds

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 Collin Morikawa climbs to top of US Open leaderboard with 4-under-66;  Tie with Joel Dahmen after 2 rounds

BROOKLINE, Mass. – For every Collin Morikawa and his consecutive years winning a Major, there’s a Joel Dahmen who just four years ago would have been thrilled to even play in one.

Jon Rahm is the defending US Open champion one shot away from the lead. He will play at The Country Club over the weekend with Hayden Buckley, who was studying while playing in Missouri because he thought he needed to find a job after college.

The dozen players separated by two shots going into the weekend include the top three in the world rankings and four of the top seven: Masters champion Scottie Scheffler, Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Morikawa.

“I think it’s great for the game of golf that the highest ranked players and the best players are up there, especially in tournaments where in the end the best player really wins,” Rahm said.

That also includes two PGA Tour rookies and two players who have never won on the Tour.

In fact, this US Open has something for everyone. Phil Mickelson, who missed the cut by eight strokes, is simply missing.

Morikawa was looking for something in his game and found a “baby draw” instead of his traditional fade, and it worked beautifully on Brookline. He got Championship Friday’s low score of 4 under 66 for a share of the lead with Dahmen, the cancer survivor and popular everyman in golf.

Rahm 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 one shot behind in the five-man group. These included McIlroy, who had one win at the Canadian Open and stepped onto the back nine with three birdies over his last four holes for a 69.

Not to be missed was World No. 1 Scheffler, who smashed in from thick rough just before the par 5 14th green for an Eagle that put the Texan back into the mix with a 67. He was two strokes behind.

Morikawa, Rahm and Scheffler have won four of the last nine majors combined. And then there’s McIlroy, who has four majors himself but hasn’t had one since 2014.

“It’s the US Open. No one has made it this far and somehow run away,” Morikawa said. “The last few days have been a huge confidence boost for me heading into this weekend and hopefully we can part ways somehow.”

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

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

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

“We don’t tee off until 3:45 a.m. tomorrow. Normally I have to be home by 5 a.m. for dinner,” said Dahmen. “So that will definitely be different.”

In the group one shot behind is Buckley, who wasn’t at the US Open until he hit a 20-foot birdie putt in a playoff eleven days ago for the final spot in his qualifier.

He was on a fade like so many others with three bogeys during a five hole stretch around the corner when he got back on course. Birdies on the last two holes earned him another 68.

Also at No. 136 was Aaron Wise with a PGA Tour win and nothing better than a tie 17th in his nine previous majors; and Beau Hossler, who performed at the Olympic Club weekends in 2012 as a youthful amateur but has not been heard from the majors since.

They were examples that the US Open’s openness to all doesn’t end with qualifying for eligibility for golf’s toughest test.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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