ERIN, Wisconsin (Reuters) - After grabbing a share of the early second round lead at the U.S. Open, Paul Casey crashed down the leaderboard with a triple bogey as the Erin Hills layout showed its teeth on Friday.
Casey and other early starters were greeted by more challenging conditions than those they faced in the opening round as winds picked up around the links-style layout making the longest course in U.S. Open history play even longer.
Playing the back nine first, Casey quickly joined American overnight leader Rickie Fowler at the top of the leaderboard at seven-under with an early birdie at the 11th.
But the Englishman’s stay at the top was short-lived, giving the stroke right back with a bogey at the next hole followed by a shocking triple bogey at par-five 14th.
The Englishman found himself in trouble when he flew his approach out of rough over the green into the deep fescue and needed five more strokes to get in the cup.
A rattled Casey added another bogey at the 15th to extend his miserable run before hitting back with birdies at 17 and 18.
Young American Xander Schauffele, who had started the day alongside Casey in joint second, held steady in the toughening conditions reeling off four pars before carding his first birdie of the day at the fifth to join Fowler at the top.
It was also smooth sailing for Kim Si-Woo as the South Korean finished his first nine with back-to-back birdies at 17 and 18 and stormed through the turn with a third consecutive birdie to get to six-under, one back of the co-leaders.
Japan’s Satoshi Kodaira was making the biggest move of the day, opening with back-to-back birdies and adding two more at 11 and 12 to reach three-under for the championship, four back of the pacesetters.
Newly branded as the “ultimate test in golf”, the U.S. Open has long been famed for its toughness and Erin Hills was expected to add to that hard-man reputation.
But under sunny skies on Thursday, Erin Hills looked more friend than foe with 44 golfers breaking par to set a record for the opening round of a U.S. Open.
Fowler will be among the later starters along with defending champion Dustin Johnson, who opened defence of his crown with shaky three-over 75 and will need to mount a charge to make the cut.
Editing by Larry Fine