US Open 2014 Results: Biggest Winners and Losers from Day 2
Can anyone catch Martin Kaymer?
That's what the 114th U.S. Open championship has come down to after Kaymer, the former No. 1-ranked player in the world, was the star of Day 2 with a rinse and repeat performance of the 65 score he posted in the opening round of the tournament.
The back-to-back 65s represent a U.S. Open scoring record after 36 holes and the 10-under total put the German six shots clear of his nearest competitor in the field heading into the weekend.
But once again, while Kaymer clearly was the biggest winner of the day for the second consecutive round, he wasn't the only winner. And there also were plenty of losers. Read on to see who qualified for the biggest of both in addition to the tournament leader.
Winner: Martin Kaymer
Martin Kaymer's game so far at Pinehurst has been the perfect blend of just the right amount of aggressiveness mixed with a conservative, pragmatic approach when necessary.
He's driving the ball into the right places on the fairways, aiming mostly for the middle of the greens except when he has yardage distances that make it smarter to shoot for the flag and avoiding three-putt possibilities at all costs. That's why he's sitting at a U.S. Open record 10-under after 36 holes.
The German is so far in front of the rest of the field that Gene Wojciehowski of ESPN.com summed it up nicely by writing: "He's on the autobahn; the others are driving scooters in the far right lane."
Kaymer, 29, also told Wojcieshowski: "I don't know what to say. It's just very, very solid. It gets boring the words that I use, but I mean, there's not much to say. It's just good right now the way I play golf."
No kidding. Of course, it's good for him and terrible for all those trying to chase him on the leaderboard heading into the weekend.
Loser: Dustin Johnson
Dustin Johnson also pulled a repeat of his first round with a 69 on Day 2 that matched his opening-round score and left him at 2-under for the tournament, tied for third with four others but eight strokes behind Kaymer.
So why is Johnson considered one of the day's biggest losers? Simple. Because he putted horribly.
Talking to reporters afterward, according to a transcript of his post-round interview, Johnson didn't seem upset at all with the way he played.
"It's not bad. I played solid. I had a lot of good chances to make birdies and just a little off with the putter," Johnson said. "I missed a real short one on 6, but other than that I thought that I played really solid and put myself in good spots all day."
He definitely put himself in good spots all day with his ball-striking. But he was quite a bit worse with his putter than he seemed willing to admit to himself, with a stroke that ESPN analyst Paul Azinger called "ugly" and "gross." (h/t SBNation.com)
Winner: Brooks Koepka
Brooks Koepka shot a second-round 68 and is one of those now tied with Johnson and three others—Brendon de Jonge, Keegan Bradley and Henrik Stenson—for third at 2-under for the tournament.
But just who is Koepka?
Well, he was a three-time All-American in college at Florida State, so he's obviously a great player. But he's spent most of his time recently abroad on the Challenge Tour, which he admitted to Golf Digest isn't for everyone.
"It just depends on the player," Koepka, 24, said. "I enjoy being alone. I can come over and get away from distractions."
It sure isn't for everyone. On a visit to Kazakhstan recently, Koepka dined on horse meat and proclaimed to Golf Digest: "It was pretty good. Just like beef."
Koepka's game has been pretty good so far in the Open, turning some heads. None other than Phil Mickelson has been among those offering compliments of the way Koepka has been playing.
Losers: Hunter Mahan/Jamie Donaldson
Sure, you might hit the wrong ball once in a while if you're playing on a weekend with your buddies, sipping beers along the way.
But in the U.S. Open? How could it possibly happen?
Yet it did on Friday when Hunter Mahan and Jamie Donaldson hit each other's balls instead of their own on Hole No. 18—arguably costing Mahan his shot at making the cut and playing through the weekend. Donaldson already was playing so poorly he wouldn't have made it anyway.
Both players began the day in contention to at least make the cut and play the final two rounds. And Mahan was looking really good after they started on the course's back nine and he made three birdies in the first four holes they played.
Everything changed when John Wood, Mahan’s caddie, walked to the wrong ball in the 18th fairway, initiating a chain of events that led to the rules violation that cost both Donaldson and Mahan two penalty strokes. Mahan ended the day at 6-over, with the cut line settling at 5-over.
"It was one of the freak things that happen," Donaldson told FOXSports.com. “Carelessness on both our parts, nobody’s to blame. You just check your golf ball, don’t you?"
That's what we thought.
Winner: Adam Scott
After muddling his way through Day 1 with a 3-over 73, Adam Scott put together a Day 2 round that was more representative of his current ranking as the world's No. 1 player.
Wiith four birdies and just one bogey en route to a 3-under 67 on Friday, Scott at least gave himself a chance to be in contention over the weekend if Kaymer falters at all. Scott is at even-par for the tournament, currently 10 strokes off the pace.
Scott attributed his early tee time and an overnight rain that was measured at a half-inch or more as contributing factors to his solid second round. The rain helped soften the greens, which then held approach shots better.
"I needed a good one today," Scott told The Courier Mail after the round. "I think I probably got the better end of the draw on the first two days, coming out early after a bit of soaking rain overnight and that front nine certainly we could fire a little more aggressively at the pins."
Loser: Charl Schwartzel
Maybe it was because he was grouped for the first two rounds with Bubba Watson, who obviously did not want to be dealing with the new layout at Pinehurst No. 2.
Whatever the case, some thought Charl Schwartzel ranked as a possible contender heading into this U.S. Open. Instead, the 2011 Masters champion is headed back to Vereemoging, South Africa, where he makes his home or elsewhere after a second-round score of 76 caused him to miss the cut.
Schwartzel's already mediocre tournament really started imploding on the back nine Friday. He had made three birdies on the front, but took a double-bogey six on Hole No. 12 and then promptly bogeyed four of the next five holes after parring the next.
Winner: Kevin Na
Kevin Na backed up his opening-round score of 68 with a second-round total of 69 that included some incredible saves around the greens.
That left him at 3-under for the tournament, tied with Brandt Snedeker for third place. Snedeker also deserves kudos for putting together a solid second-round score of 68 after struggling through his back nine on Day 1 and blowing an opportunity to put himself within better striking distance of Kaymer.
Na didn't officially make it into the U.S. field until late, moving to No. 40 in the world rankings after his loss in a playoff to Hideki Matsuyama at the Memorial. The U.S. Golf Association set aside five spots for players who moved into the top 60 in the world, clearing the way for Na to participate.
Over the first two rounds, he obviously has proven he belongs.
Losers: The Big Names Who Didn't Make the Cut
Guys like Charl Schwartzel were far from alone in their misery.
Among the other notables who failed to make the cut after the first two rounds: Jason Dufner (pictured above, trying to locate his ball in a bunker), Luke Donald, Angel Cabrera, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Lee Westwood, David Toms, Nick Watney, Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan and others.
Move along here. It was ugly for all of them, and there is nothing else to see.
Winner: Brendon Todd
Who is Brendon Todd, and how is he in sole possession of second place after two rounds of the U.S. Open?
Those are good questions. As Friday wore on, Todd bubbled up the leaderboard and eventually ended up with a second-round score of 3-under 67 that was second on the day only to the 65 shot by leader Martin Kaymer. Coupled with his first-round score of 69, that left him at 4-under and the only player six shots off the pace being set by Kaymer.
Todd, 28, is a lanky, 6-foot-3 fella who played in college at Georgia and has played well enough lately that he's currently ranked ninth in the FedEx Cup standings. He's also ranked 55th in the world, which was good enough to get him in this tournament.
He won the HP Byron Nelson Championship earlier this year to claim his first PGA Tour victory, so he can get it done. But can he catch Kaymer? That's the question he and everyone else left within semi-striking distance are asking going into this weekend.