History was always made this week in Brooklyn, Massachusetts. This was inevitable. However, the Boston faithful couldn’t have imagined a better leaderboard as the 2022 US Open weekend approaches. While defending champion John Ram and four-time winner Rory McIlroy battle hard to sit down with just one stroke of the lead, the name The one at the top has the potential to produce an amazing moment that comes on Sunday.
That name belongs to Colin Morikawa, who launched the 4-under 66 on Friday to reach the 5-under championship and lead the joint lead alongside Joel Dahmin. 25-year-old Morikawa appears to have been on television for the past decade, but in fact, this week’s US Open marks his eleventh major appearance in his career.
In his previous 10 starts like this, Morikawa had amazing accomplishments including winning his first PGA Championship appearance and another in his Open Championship debut last summer at Royal St. George. The once-in-a-lifetime start of your career can be made even more memorable by winning at The Country Club.
Three major wins in 11 games would be unprecedented given the depth of talent in golf – for reference: Jordan Spieth needed 19 games to get his three games – and being able to win these majors in three very different settings would make the whole thing the most impressive feat. Make no mistake, though: Morikawa battles on the last 36 holes with names like McIlroy, Ram and world number one Scotty Scheffler, all at a screaming distance.
While this won’t be the case for his last two victories, Morikawa has yet to lead by 36 holes in his main career – add that to his list of accomplishments – and some may continue to doubt his status or his inexplicable lack of confidence in his iron game, History suggests Morikawa will be fine.
T1. Colin Morikawa and Joel Dahmin (-5): Last year, Morikawa could not detect the grass in Scotland. He went on to win the Open Championship. This year, he’s unable to hit his patented fade with his iron. Lo and behold, he’s right in the mix for his third major title. Not only will he continue his impressive pace on golf’s biggest stage, but with a win, Morikawa will be the Masters’ win far from completing a Grand Slam. While the iron was good, not great, it made its mark with its performance on the greens. He’s lost strokes with his racket at every start since the Masters, and so far this week at The Country Club, he’s gained more than three flat stick strokes.
T3. John Ram, Rory McIlroy, Aaron Wise, Hayden Buckley and Beau Hausler (-4): Ram played alongside Morikawa for the first two days and probably overshadowed him. However, the defending champion is in an enviable position and has a fantastic opportunity to follow in Brooks Koepka’s footsteps by winning back-to-back US Championships. It’s no surprise that Ram leads the field in kicks from a tee because he is the best in the world in this division by a large margin; However, the improvement he has shown around the green this week has the potential to propel him to another big victory.
T8. Scotty Sheffler, Nick Hardy, Matthew Nesmith, Patrick Rodgers and Brian Harman (-3): Schaeffler is sure to carry the momentum to finish his flying bird as of ThursdayFriday. Although he didn’t start without a hitch, the Texans put in the best approach performance of his career in terms of earned strokes. Ultimately, Schaeffler signed the 3-U-67, and Scheffler will be in the conversation on Sunday afternoon ninth as long as his short game is able to reverse his base stats the rest of the way. He currently ranks first in approach strokes earned, third in strokes earned tee to the green and sixth in strokes earned from tee, and is outside the top 80 in both and around the green.
T13. Sam Burns, Matt Fitzpatrick, Adam Hadwin and Beau Hausler (-2): Burns was one of three players to sign 67 in the morning wave, and the next logical step in his career advancement would be to compete at the weekend in a major tournament. He can check it off the list because he’s in the mix for this tournament and he should love his chances of moving forward. A three-time winner on the PGA Tour this season, his win this week will draw him alongside his good friend Schaeffler in the annual total. The LSU producer only hit 15 tracks during its first two rounds, so he will likely need to improve in this department in order to set up more scoring opportunities.
T16. Xander Schauffele, Will Zalatoris, Davis Riley and four others (-1): His US Open resume is great on paper, but this presents his best chance yet for Shaveli. In his previous five matches in the top ten, he had yet to rival him; However, with 36 holes remaining, he’s only four strokes away from the pace. The names he’ll need to jump on are some of the biggest names in the game, but if there’s one instance in which he could cast doubt and the reputation surrounding his name, it’s this week.
T24. Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Brandon Matthews and four others (English): It truly is an impressive bounce back for the two-time US Open champion as he now has rounds of 73-67 under his belt. Koepka was the typical same with the media after his second run as the chip on his shoulder somehow grew tenfold. He’s only been defeated by four men in his last four matches at the US Open, and his work is off if he doesn’t want to add significantly to that total. The improvement around the green would be huge since it’s the only area in his game to hold him through 36 holes.
T31. Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Joaquin Neiman and six others (+1): I can only imagine how frustrated Thomas was after opening his second round with a double bogey and eventually signing 2-over 72. At the Players Championship, the PGA Championship and now at the US Open, the two-time main winner took home the short end of the baton when it came to weather bias In some of the season’s biggest events. He’s only six strokes off the lead, and given the firepower in his arsenal, he’s still in this thing, although there’s little room for error now.
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