Monday, September 24, 2018

Golf gives boot to even the best

WILL Dustin Johnson (DJ) win the 118th U.S. Open on Monday (June 18 Philippine time)?

As I write this, DJ was fout strokes ahead of two of his chief rivals with still two rounds left to play.

That lead DJ could possibly increase more, judging by the way he’s been playing the first two days of the year’s second of four majors.

Seven of nine guys behind DJ are five to six strokes back, a deficit that can either be fragile or huge.

Of DJ’s chief challengers going to the weekend, only four seemed pedigreed: Henrik Stenson, Rickie Fowler, 2013 champion Justin Rose and last year’s winner, Brooks Koepka.

Stenson, the sweet-swinging Swede, has had so many successes already; he was five shots behind DJ with two rounds to go.

Fowler, six off DJ, is so good that with his string of runner-up finishes in past majors, he is generally considered the best golfer who has never won a major.

Oh, yes, Koepka. He rallied mightily in round two to stay five shots behind DJ, deadlocked with Ian Poulter, Tommy Fleetwood, Stenson and Rose.

And will long shots Scott Piercy and Charley Hoffman, bunched at four shots behind DJ, figure prominently in the last two rounds?

No one can tell as golf is as unpredictable as the weather, so they say.

But if it has any indication, DJ seemed to have a vise grip of the lead and, barring a major disaster, he might yet duplicate his U.S. Open victory in 2016.

His 69-67 openers are rock-solid and stand out as near-miraculous marvels of perfection at a course as tough and as ridiculous as Shinnecock Hills in New York.

The tall, long-hitting and bearded two-day leader is the only one to have broken par back-to-back in a weird development that saw even some of the established stars falter horrendously.

Among the 156 starters that missed the cut were 2015 champion Jordan Spieth, 2011 winner Rory McIlroy and, yes, three-time titlist Tiger Woods.

Spieth’s exit was heartbreaker: He had four straight birdies in the back nine, only to finish bogey-bogey and miss the cut by one.

McIlroy got the door at plus-10 even as he shaved 10 shots from his first-day 80.

And Woods’ birdie-birdie finish wasn’t enough as he went two strokes above the plus-8 cut (78-72).

Golf: It humiliates even the best.