ARDMORE, Pa. — Phil Mickelson and Billy Horschel shared the lead while Barrington’s Jesse Smith was flirting with the cut line before falling apart late during Friday’s second round of the U.S. Open.
Mickelson rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt at the 18th hole to grab a share of the lead with Horschel, who shot a 67 on the day. The pair are tied with 139 after two rounds. Play was eventually suspended due to approaching darkness.
As for Smith, four holes into the second round he was 1-over par, a stroke behind a pack of golfers tied for 12th.
Smith had started the day by completing his rain-suspended first round at 2-over, and having birdied his second hole of the second round, the par-3 12th, Smith’s chances of making the cut were not far-fetched.
But those chances melted away on the par-4 15th hole where Smith shot an 8. He then bogeyed the par-4 16th, shot a five on the par-3 17th and finished with a bogey on the par-4 18th hole. Smith finished the day with an 81 for 11 over and dropped into a tie for 131st.
Mickelson and Horschel were perched atop a jam-packed leaderboard that had five players one shot back and another five golfers one more stroke adrift, with tournament favorites Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy well within striking distance at three-over par 143.
Bunched at par were former world number one Luke Donald, his fellow Englishmen Justin Rose (through 17 holes) and Ian Poulter (14 holes), Steve Stricker and amateur Pan Cheng-tsung of Taiwan (nine holes).
Tied at one over par were Nicolas Colsaerts of Belgium, who shot 72, Australian John Senden (71), Jerry Kelly (through 12), Charley Hoffman (13), and 19-year-old amateur, Michael Kim of South Korea (11).
Sunshine on Friday replaced the rain that had plagued the tournament, the wind kicked up and players struggled to make par as venerable Merion Golf Club showed it was still a master test for the world's best golfers.
Sixty-eight golfers had not yet finished their rounds and were returning this morning to the classic layout in the Philadelphia suburbs.
The projected cut to reduce the field to the top 60 and ties was estimated to come at seven over par after a round that saw players average nearly five over par.