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Henley joined by Bland in the lead, Perez and Barjon miss the cut

Russell Henley Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The American Russel Henley shares control of the 121st US Open with the Englishman Richard Bland, after the 2nd round disputed on the south course of Torrey Pines. The two Frenchmen will not play this weekend.

An unexpected duo is at the helm of the US Open, in the person of the American Russell Henley, 63rd in the world, and the Englishman Richard Bland, even less well known, 48 years old and 115th in the world, after the second round disputed on Friday at La Jolla.

The perfect shot

Already in the lead the day before, alongside South African Louis Oosthuizen, Henley thought he had the perfect shot by scoring his second birdie of the day on the 17th. The native of Macon (Georgia, USA), who n has won more PGA titles since the Houston Open in 2017 and who has never managed to rank in the top 10 of a Grand Slam tournament, then regained the lead of the rankings alone. But that only lasted a moment, as he missed a range putt on his last hole and committed his only bogey.

“I feel good about my game. But I’ve never been in this position before at a Major. I just feel like I’m going to learn something no matter what.”said the one who is still forced to share his chair as leader.

This time, with the surprising Richard Bland, this veteran that no one saw coming. Quietly, the one who won his first European Tour tournament last month, the Betfred British Masters, in 25 years of professional career, returned the best card of the day (67), thanks to seven birdies against three bogeys.

“I’ll be back later”

“I feel pretty good about my game. My drive has been effective for a few weeks now, which is the cornerstone if you want to be competitive for a US Open”commented Bland, who could become the oldest winner in the history of this Major on Sunday, ahead of American Hale Irwin who was 45 when he won in 1990. “I have a flight back (to Europe) scheduled for Sunday evening. I have to play in Munich next week. But I’ll take another one and come back later.”he added with a smile.

Because the hardest part has only just begun for the improbable duo he forms with Henley. They each total -5, and are ahead of Louis Oosthuizen who returned a neutral card (71, -4), as well as the American Matthew Wolff. And there are two customers in ambush in 5th place, since the Spaniard Jon Rahm (3rd in the world) and the American Bubba Watson are two points behind (-3). The latter, double winner of the Masters (2012, 2014) also returned a card of 67 like Bland, to jump 36 places in the standings.

“I feel confident, I hit some good shots”welcomed Rahm, absolutely not physically affected ten days after contracting Covid-19.

DeChambeau believes in it

Among the favorites, the defending champion, Bryson DeChambeau, reacted well after a tricky opening round (+2), finishing this time at -2, to stay in par. “If I can get a little more comfortable with my irons and my drivers, I’ll have a good chance this weekend,” he warned.

In 14th place, five strokes from the lead, are also Collin Morikawa, excellent with five birdies and only one bogey, the day after his bad start, the 2nd in the world Justin Thomas, and Brooks Koepka who, on the other hand, unscrewed him by nine ranks.

The day was still difficult for the world n°1 Dustin Johnson, who finished at +2, for the Japanese Hideki Matsuyama winner of the last Masters (+3) and for Phil Mickeslon who did barely better than the day before (+3 ), compromising his dream of winning the only Major missing from his list. This 2nd round was so complicated for the whole field that the cut was lowered to +4. Which allowed Jordan Spieth to save his presence for this weekend.

No miracle, however, for the two Frenchmen in the running, Victor Perez (+8) and Paul Barjon (+9), are eliminated. The Tarbais (75-75) misses their third cut in a row in a Major while the Bordelais (73-78) leaves the US Open for the second time before the weekend.

For his part, suffering from sand in the eye after hitting in the bunker during warm-up, Norwegian Viktor Hovland was forced to retire after nine holes.

Ranking after the 2nd round (by 71):

1. Richard Bland (ENG) -5 (70-67)

. Russell Henley (USA) -5 (67-70)

3. Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) -4 (67-71)

. Matthew Wolff (USA) -4 (70-68)

6. Bubba Watson (USA) -3 (72-67)

. Jon Rahm (ESP) -3 (69-70)

Kevin Streelman (USA) -2 (71-69)

. Mackenzie Hughes (CAN) -2 (73-67)

. Xander Schauele (USA) -2 (69-71)

… etc

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