BROOKLINE, Mass. — The top of the U.S. Open leaderboard after two rounds is littered with some of the game’s biggest studs. Collin Morikawa, already a two-time major champ, has a share of the lead. Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, with five majors between them, are just one back. World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler’s back-nine run on Friday got him to three under, which is within two. Will Zalatoris, Xander Schauffele and Brooks Koepka are all lurking, as they say. There’s plenty of star power, which should make for a rather spicy final 36 holes.
However, another handful of highly-touted contenders won’t be around for all the weekend fun at The Country Club. Here are some of the more shocking cut-misses who are headed home early from the year’s third major.
Due to his recent run of form, and a strong history in the majors, the Irishman was among the most popular picks in the gambling and daily fantasy community in the leadup to Brookline. In eight PGA Tour starts in 2022, Lowry has made every cut, picking up three top-three finishes and another four top-25s along the way. His 2019 Open Championship win, plus a pair of top-10s in U.S. Opens past, had to have him fancying his chances, but he got got by Brookline. It couldn’t have helped, either, that he was paired up with the circus that was Phil Mickelson this week, though we highly doubt Lowry would use that as an excuse.
The should-have-been PGA Championship runner-up (Pereira tied for third), like Lowry, missed the cut on the number. The Chilean showed some seriously great signs of golf amnesia with finishes of seventh (Colonial) and 13th (Memorial) in his first two starts post-PGA collapse. But his normally elite tee-to-green play was nowhere to be found in Boston. The good news is, this was only his third appearance in a major. There will be plenty of opportunities in the big ones in the not-so-distant future for Mito.
Young’s back-nine run was on pace to become the stuff of U.S. Open cut-making legend. After a disastrous, tournament-killing quadruple-bogey eight at the par-4 third, Young (after another bogey) proceeded to go birdie, hole-in-one (!), birdie, birdie to climb all the way back to four over with one hole to go. But his last-ditch, 33-foot birdie effort to make the weekend would not fall at the ninth, giving him four missed cuts in five career major starts. However, his lone made cut, a T-3 at Southern Hills last month, is a much better barometer of what is to come for the 25-year-old.
After a slow start to the season, Finau began doing Finau things starting in May at the Mexico Open, where he finished runner-up. Coming into the U.S. Open, he went fourth at Colonial and second at the RBC Canadian Open, putting him back on everyone’s radar. But one too many bogeys brought his momentum to a screeching halt this week, and it will mark the first time in his career that he’s gone three consecutive majors without a top-20 finish.
Fairway finders, approach gawds and short-game savants were expected to play well at The Country Club this week. Berger is all three of those things, and after a brutal MC hammer at Southern Hills he bounced back with a top 25 at Colonial and a promising fifth-place finish at Muirfield Village. In 2021, he had his best majors year yet, with a T-7 at the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines and a T-8 in the Open Championship at Royal St. George’s. 2022 has not been as kind, with Berger’s major record now reading: T-50-MC-MC.
Smith’s missed cut, while somewhat shocking, was also a bit expected, at least by the so-called experts from this little website. The Aussie was coming off one of his very few bad performances all season in Canada, and the off-the-tee numbers were particularly concerning. Turns out there was plenty of cause for concern at such tough track like TCC, where Smith lost quite a few strokes OTT and MC’d by two strokes as a result.
Hovland’s missed cut was a slow, painful burn. He went off in the morning wave and appeared to be one of the big movers on his front nine, chipping in from distance (yes, a Hovland chip-in) for birdie at the 12th (his third) and then making another birdie at the 13th to get to two under for the championship. But at the 17th, he began an unbelievably difficult to watch stretch of six straight bogeys, then made three more in his final five holes for an ugly back-nine 42. Big things are expected from the former U.S. Amateur winner, but the early portion of his majors career is not proving fruitful, the Norwegian failing to top 10 in any of his first 11 appearances. That said, this is his first missed cut in 12 majors, so it’s not all doom and gloom.