Two rounds of the 121st U.S. Open are in the books, and the current leaderboard features two big surprises, Richard Bland and Russell Henley, tied at the top at 5 under. But not far behind are several big names, including Louis Oosthuizen (4 under), Jon Rahm (3 under) and Xander Schauffele (2 under), plus a pack at even par that includes Brooks Koepka, Bryson DeChambeau, Collin Morikawa and Justin Thomas. And so we ask our two correspondents on the scene in San Diego: 36 holes in, how far back is too back?
Michael Rosenberg, Sports Illustrated: Pretty far back! At 5 under, Brand and Henley are obviously not huge names, and there are only two guys at 4 under. Those two, Oosthuizen and Wolff, are a major champion and a premier young talent, but there is a real chance that to win, you just need to catch the guys who are currently 3 under. So, I think anybody who is 2 over or better should feel like they at least have a shot. There is a cluster of stars who are even par: Koepka, Thomas, DeChambeau, Morikawa. It would not be surprising if any of them wins this.
Alex Miceli, Morning Read: In 2002, Jose Maria Olazabal made the cut on the number at the Buick Invitational. He was 8 shots back of the leaders at Torrey Pines, and he then shot 67-65 on the weekend to win by one shot over J.L. Lewis and Mark O’Meara, proving that the South course can produce heartache as well as jubilation.
So, a realistic assessment would be that even par or five shots back makes sense. But it’s not out of the realm of possibility that someone at 1, 2 or 3 over par has a chance. Anyone at even par must only jump over 10 players in 36 holes -- that’s a lot for one round, but more than doable over two rounds.
The other variable is that eagles can clearly be made out here, which is not always the case at a U.S. Open. Those can change the dynamic of the championship quickly.
MORE DAY 2 U.S. OPEN COVERAGE