Jon Rahm remains upbeat coming into the final round at U.S. Open, after a difficult Saturday saw him finish one stroke from tied leaders Will Zalatoris and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

The world number two held the outright lead approaching the 18th hole at Brookline, but a double bogey put him on one-over for the day and three-under after 54 holes.

Blustery and overcast conditions made moving day at The Country Club more about survival, and Rahm remains within contention despite his disappointing finish to the round.

"Good round of golf," he said afterwards. "It was obviously extremely difficult conditions, the wind being a little bit higher and stronger than the last few days, a different direction. Then the course being a little bit firmer, right, that's just a recipe for difficulty.

"Obviously, I think a lot of people are just thinking about 18. The truth is, 18, it was six good shots. Unfortunately, it added up to 6, but it was all good swings.

"If anything, it was maybe a choice or a decision on the fairway bunker, but swings were good, so execution was proper. So I'm happy about that in that sense."

The defending champion hit the bunker with his tee shot on the 18th and compounded that by hitting its lip and staying there, before finding another bunker with his next shot and two-putting for the double bogey.

It came after three birdies between 14 and 17 to put him on five-under, momentarily moving ahead of Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick as conditions dramatically cooled, placing further difficulty on shot and club selection.

"After I hit the shot, I realised the ball was a little bit deeper in the sand than I could really truly see," he said.

"But I think I got maybe -- tried to be a little too perfect with the shot. I had a 9-iron in hand. That's plenty to get over that lip.

"It is what it is. I think I got a little bit too cute with the shot."

Will Zalatoris and Matthew Fitzpatrick share the lead coming into the final round at the U.S. Open, finishing a tough Saturday on four-under par at Brookline.

Only nine players at this third major of the year have scores under par after 54 holes at the Country Club, and the tied lead between Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick only came after Jon Rahm's dreadful final hole in overcast and blustery conditions.

The world number two had the outright lead coming into his final hole on moving day, but three consecutive bunker shots and a two-putt led to a double-bogey on the par-four 18th and three-under after 54.

Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick have not won as professionals in the United States, with the former agonisingly finishing second at the 2021 Masters and this year's PGA Championship.

With Zalatoris finishing his round earlier in the day, Rahm finished as the conditions further cooled, placing particular difficulty on the approach to the green with club selection.

A visibly frustrated Rahm was able to compensate with some exceptional putting on the back nine, however, sinking a long birdie putt on the 14th to put him level with the two leaders. Three birdies between 14 and 17 were undone by the last hole, however.

Scottie Scheffler recovered from a double-bogey and three consecutive bogeys between 11 and 14 to finish Saturday on two-under, securing a birdie on the 17th before a massive par save on the last after hitting the bunker.

The usually stoic Scheffler did not hide his emotions with a triumphant fist-pump after the save, which left the world number one tied with Adam Hadwin and Keegan Bradley.

Joel Dahmen and Collin Morikawa fell down the leaderboard after opening Saturday with the lead on five-under. Morikawa's natural left-to-right game particularly suffered, shooting a seven-over 77.

Dahmen is joined on one-under by Sam Burns and Rory McIlroy, who only made seven greens in regulation but stayed in contention with a string of saves on the back nine.

 

Shot of the day

After two birdies and a bogey through his first seven holes, Scheffler really shone on the eighth.

His stunning eagle on the par-five hole saw him leap into a two-shot lead at the summit of the leaderboard.

Player of the day - Will Zalatoris

In a day characterised by survival in blustery conditions at Brookline, Will Zalatoris was one of the few on Saturday who thrived.

His ball-striking shone on an overcast day, scoring only one bogey as the rest of the field struggled to find the green.

 

Chipping in

Zalatoris: "Yeah, that was brutal. When I made a mistake, I made sure I was on the fat side of the green or having room where I could maybe at least chip one up there from eight to 10 feet."

Scheffler: "There's a lot of trees on this golf course, and it's gusty as well. So it's definitely unpredictable. I think that's what happens when you get these foresty golf courses, and then with the gusts, I mean, that little golf ball is just getting thrown around all over the place." 

 

A little birdie told me...

- Victory on Sunday would see Fitzpatrick emulate Jack Nicklaus, winning the U.S. Open at the same course he won the U.S. Amateur, after beating Oliver Goss at the Country Club in 2013.

Collin Morikawa and Joel Dahmen are the 36-hole leaders of the U.S. Open after an entertaining second round at The Country Club on Friday, tied at five under.

Dahmen was one stroke off the lead after the first round, and he followed it up with a strong 68 in windy conditions. He is one of three players to shoot 68 or better in the opening two rounds. Morikawa came into the day at one under, and shot the round of the day as the only player to get around in 66. 

One stroke back from the lead is a five-man group headlined by stars Rory McIlroy and Jon Rahm, along with American duo Hayden Buckley and Aaron Wise. Buckley and Wise were the two players along Dahmen to shoot back-to-back 68s.

Beau Hossler joined that group at four under thanks to a chip-in birdie on his final hole.

World number one Scottie Scheffler is part of the group at three under, and he shared the early clubhouse lead following a three-under 67. He is joined by Nick Hardy, Matthew NeSmith, Patrick Rodgers and Brian Harman to round out the top-10.

Overnight leader Adam Hadwin is a further shot back at two under with Sam Burns and Matt Fitzpatrick, while South Africa's M.J. Daffue – who was three strokes clear atop the leaderboard early in his round at six under – posted five bogeys and no birdies down the back nine to head into the weekend at one under.

Also at one under are hopefuls Xander Schauffele and Will Zalatoris, still well within striking distance, while Hideki Matsuyama and Brooks Koepka headline the group at even par.

Star-studded duo Justin Thomas and Dustin Johnson are at one over, and the pair of Jordan Spieth and Bryson DeChambeau are at two over, one stroke clear of the cut-line.

Finishing right on the cut-line at three over was recent winner Lee Kyoung-hoon and Colombia's Sebastian Munoz, who has a pair of top-three finishes this season.

Plenty of big names missed the cut, with the international contingent of Spain's Sergio Garcia, Ireland's Shane Lowry, Chile's Mito Pereira and Canada's Corey Conners all one shot out at four over. Tony Finau finished five over, Cameron Smith was six over, and the pair of Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland were both at seven over.

 

Shot of the day

Cameron Young had a moment he will never forget when he conjured up a hole-in-one at the par-three sixth.

There were huge cheers after the American's dream tee shot at the 165-yard hole dropped in. Young was unable to make the cut – missing out by one stroke – but not without achieving a rare feat.

Player of the day - Collin Morikawa

Morikawa produced the round of the day to ensure he is the man to catch heading into the weekend.

The two-time major winner was not at his brilliant best, but five birdies and just the one bogey at the par-five fourth putting him in the lead.

Chipping in

Morikawa: "No one has taken it deep so far and kind of run away, but you know what, right now my game feels really good. The last few days is a huge confidence booster for me heading into this weekend, and hopefully we can kind of make some separation somehow."

Scheffler: "I've been number one in the world for a while now, and it doesn't really feel like it, so I kind of like just under the radar. I can show up and do my thing and then go home and rest."

 

A little birdie told me...

- Young's ace was the 48th in US Open history.

- Nick Hardy and M.J. Daffue emerged from the Springfield, Ohio qualifying. They both held a share of the lead on Friday.

- Scheffler is bidding to become only the second player to win this major while world number one since the Official World Golf Rankings began in 1986. Tiger Woods (2000, 2002 and 2008) is the only man to achieved that.

- Matthew Fitzpatrick is looking to emulate Jack Nicklaus by winning the US Amateur and US Open on the same course.

Adam Hadwin ended Thursday as the outright leader following the opening round of the U.S. Open in Brookline, Massachusetts.

The Canadian shot a four-under-par round of 66, one ahead of five players tied for second, including Rory McIlroy, who had been four under himself before bogeying his final hole on the ninth.

Callum Tarren, David Lingmerth, Joel Dahmen and M.J. Daffue sit alongside McIlroy, with seven more players on two under, including Justin Rose and Dustin Johnson.

It was otherwise not a great day for some of the LIV Golf International Series participants, with Phil Mickelson carding an opening round of 78 (seven over), while Louis Oosthuizen managed just one shot better and Sergio Garcia finished on four over.

LIV Golf's new additions Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau ended even par and one over respectively. 

World number one Scottie Scheffler recovered from a wobbly start to finish on even par, while PGA Championship winner Justin Thomas ended the day one under, as did the man he beat in a playoff for that trophy, Will Zalatoris.

Defending champion Jon Rahm, Collin Morikawa and Adam Scott also shot one-under rounds of 69, while world number four Patrick Cantlay came away from Thursday two over.

Shot of the day

After ending up just off the green in the longer grass on the 12th, a precision chip from Matt Fitzpatrick still had a significant distance to travel, but slowly rolled its way straight into the hole to the delight of the Englishman and the Brookline crowd, sending him back to two-under straight after bogeying the 11th.

Player of the day - Adam Hadwin

Hadwin sat on one over after three holes, before birdieing five of the next six to catapult himself into the leading pack. The 34-year-old has never finished higher than T39th in this tournament, and also responded to a bogey at 12 with another immediate birdie at 13, and then ended with five tidy pars to head into day two as the outright leader.

Chipping in

Rory McIlroy: "I'm going into tomorrow with the mindset of 'let's keep it going', rather than 'where is the cut line' or whatever. If you don't get off to a great start, those thoughts start to creep in, 'okay, what do I need to just be here for the weekend?'"

Jon Rahm (asked about two children stealing his ball on the 18th hole): "Yes… I'm pretty sure I know who it was. I recognised the two kids that were running the opposite way with a smile on their face. (Laughing) I am 100 per cent sure I saw the two kids that stole it."

A little birdie told me...

- McIlroy's 67 was the 13th of his career at the U.S. Open, now level with Seve Ballesteros and Sergio Garcia for most by a European player at the tournament.

- Lingmerth, ranked 592nd in the world, has never finished worse than tied for 21st in three previous U.S. Open appearances, and the Swede started with a promising 67 here.

- The first round scoring average of the last 10 winners at the U.S. Open is 69.1, with 25 players hitting under that on Thursday.

Rory McIlroy said he is in a "good spot" mentally after making a strong start to his quest for U.S. Open glory.

The four-time major winner headed to Brookline on the back of a superb victory at the Canadian Open last weekend and opened up with a three-under-par 67, a score that was enough for the co-lead when he finished his round.

McIlroy made a bogey on his final hole to put a slight dampener on things, but the Northern Irishman feels in good spirits as he bids to end an eight-year wait for a major trophy.

"I think [winning the Canadian Open gave me] comfort, more than anything else," said McIlroy, whose triumph in Canada was his 21st on the PGA Tour.

"Knowing my game is in good shape, knowing that when I had to answer the call, make some birdies or do something, I was able to.

"I feel like playing 72 holes in a U.S. Open is playing under pressure the entire time, even though the tournament doesn't really start until the weekend.

"But yeah, [it gave me] comfort with my game, mentally I think I'm in a good spot, and I showed that out there today, just trying to keep myself going.

"Overall, my wedge play was pretty good, I gave myself plenty of chances. Really nice at 17. It was a little skip up the hill, I could see it pitch into the hill and zip back down the green. I hit the putt at seven a little firm, but it was nice after a couple of par saves to see another birdie go in."

Also among the early finishers was defending champion Jon Rahm, who sank a 21-yard putt for birdie on the 18th, ensuring he finished his first round with a one-under 69.

Having endured a frustrating back nine, Rahm spoke of his relief at seeing one drop.

"I played a really good first eight holes besides the bogey on three," he said. "I played really, really solid, and then the wind picked up and it was a bit of a struggle, so to finish with that birdie makes me really confident and it's a really good way to start.

"I didn't see anything go in all day, and to see that one curl in after a wayward tee shot, I got a little lucky, got a great drop and I was able to make that birdie, it's a good feeling to finish like that.

"It got a little difficult out there, I hit a lot of bad iron shots [on] the last 10 holes, so to make that putt felt really good."

The season's third major begins on Thursday in Brookline, Massachusetts as the U.S. Open gets under way at The Country Club.

There will be a strange feeling at the tournament with it being the first major since the controversial LIV Golf International Series began.

The USGA has confirmed that players involved in the Saudi-backed breakaway who qualified for the U.S. Open will still be allowed to compete, despite the PGA Tour taking a harder stance and suspending those who played in last week's inaugural LIV Golf event in London.

That means the likes of Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia will be present in Brookline.

Tiger Woods will not participate due to fitness concerns, but there are plenty of other potential candidates to go for victory at The Country Club, such as world number one Scottie Scheffler and defending champion Jon Rahm.

Stats Perform's experts have taken a look at who they believe could succeed.

RORY'S THE STORY AND HE'S PRIMED FOR MORE GLORY – Russell Greaves

Rory McIlroy has set the standards on and off the course in recent weeks, his win at the Canadian Open coming after he had pledged his allegiance to the PGA Tour in the midst of the inaugural LIV Golf event. That was the Northern Irishman's 21st PGA Tour title, fittingly edging him ahead of LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, a fact McIlroy himself was quick to point out. In Massachusetts, McIlroy can distinguish himself even further from the likes of two-time major winner Norman as he seeks a fifth such title and second at this event. With accuracy off the tee likely to yield a premium on this course, McIlroy has the game to match his momentum and will doubtless be well backed by punters and fans alike. Sunday also marks 11 years to the day since McIlroy won the U.S. Open, collecting his first major success in the process.

DJ READY TO PLAY THE VILLAIN – Ben Spratt

Sure, Rory's return to the winners' circle at a major would be great, but that story surely pales next to the possibility of one of the LIV Golf rebels swooping in and taking the title. Johnson likely remains the breakaway league's best bet. Of course, he would not be a popular winner in front of a presumably vociferous Boston crowd, and the form book is not in his favour either, but Johnson has the talent to spoil the party; a U.S. Open victory in 2016 was the third of three straight top-five finishes – and it was only 18 months ago he was dominating the Masters. The 37-year-old has not won any event this year, in what stands as a career first, but this would be some time to end that drought.

RAHM READY TO MAKE HISTORY AFTER PLEDGING PGA LOYALTY – Patric Ridge

"I've never really played the game of golf for monetary reasons. I play for the love of the game, and I want to play against the best in the world. I've always been interested in history and legacy, and right now the PGA Tour has that." Those were the words of world number two Rahm, who is out to defend his title this week. Rahm finished T23 on his first appearance at the U.S. Open as a low amateur back in 2016, before he failed to make the cut in the next two years. However, he was tied for third in 2019 and T23 in 2020 prior to clinching his first major crown last year, finishing with two birdies on the final two holes to become the first Spanish golfer to win the major. The 27-year-old ranks first on the PGA Tour for shots gained off-the-tee, and although he struggled at the US PGA Championship, he has the opportunity to make history and create the legacy he dreams of in Massachusetts.

ROSE CAN BE A THORN IN RIVALS' SIDE – Peter Hanson

On the face of it, tipping a player ranked 48th in the world without a win to his name since January 2019 (Farmers Insurance Open) looks a little right field. At the time of that triumph, Justin Rose was world number one, but it has been a pretty mixed bag since then. Momentum is king in golf, though, and the Englishman scored a tie for fourth at the Canadian Open last weekend after shooting a sensational 10-under-par 60 in round four. Moreover, to win a U.S. Open you have to fight and scramble for a good score – qualities Rose, the 2013 champion, certainly possesses.

THOMAS HAS THE ENGINE NOT TO TANK – David Segar

Having won the PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club in May, Justin Thomas comes into this full of confidence and with good reason. He showed incredible fight to edge victory against Will Zalatoris in a play-off in Tulsa, having trailed by eight shots with 10 holes to play in the final round. Ranked fifth in the world, Thomas has always had the talent but, like many, it was always a question of putting it all together when the majors came around. With the experience of doing so fresh in his mind, and showing good form with third place at the Canadian Open, Thomas could pull off the rare feat of back-to-back major wins.

Jon Rahm says he is unsurprised by the amount of big-name golfers participating in the LIV Golf series given the financial rewards on offer, but sees more "meaning" in competing for historic prizes on the PGA Tour.

The Saudi-backed LIV Golf series, which held its first event in London last weekend with victor Charl Schwartzel pocketing $4.75million as the inaugural winner, has attracted several the game's biggest names by offering eye-watering prize sums.

The likes of Bryson DeChambeau, Phil Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and Sergio Garcia are among those to have signed up to the new circuit, with players participating in the first LIV event having been suspended by the PGA Tour last week.

Other stars, including Rory McIlroy, have made their opposition to the new tour clear, with the four-time major winner claiming on Tuesday it will "fracture" the sport.

And while world number two Rahm respects other players' decisions to feature in the breakaway competition, he simply does not see the appeal.

Speaking ahead of the U.S. Open, defending champion Rahm explained that he sees more "meaning" in competing with the world's best players in historic competitions on the PGA Tour.

"I mean, hundreds of millions of dollars are a pretty good damn reason for people to decide and go, and I see a lot of comments that's regarding it, but the high majority of the population, if they offered you 100 million or more for the next four years, a lot of people would go, right?" he said. 

"I'm not surprised at the number of players that went. I do see the appeal that other people see towards LIV Golf.

"[But] to be honest, part of the format is not really appealing to me. I want to play against the best in the world in a format that's been going on for hundreds of years. 

"There's meaning when you win the Memorial Championship. There's meaning when you win Arnold Palmer's event at Bay Hill. There's a meaning when you win, [at] LA, Torrey, some of the historic venues. That to me matters a lot.

"My heart is with the PGA Tour. That's all I can say. It's not my business or my character to judge anybody who thinks otherwise."

Rahm also added that the financial rewards on offer on the new tour – headed up by chief executive Greg Norman – would not change his mind.

"Truth be told, I could retire right now with what I've made and live a very happy life and not play golf again," the 27-year-old said. 

"I've never really played the game of golf for monetary reasons. I play for the love of the game, and I want to play against the best in the world. I've always been interested in history and legacy, and right now the PGA Tour has that."

Rahm's compatriot Garcia, meanwhile, joined Johnson in resigning his membership of the PGA Tour last month.

While Rahm says Garcia's decision is none of his concern, he hopes the split will not impact players' chances of competing at the Ryder Cup.

"[It's] not my business," he added. "He has given golf, [the] European Tour and the PGA Tour 20, 25 years of his life. It's his decision. It's not my job to judge. 

"That's all I can say. I don't know what's going to happen. I think the one thing that keeps coming to me out of all this and what can happen… I hope the Ryder Cup doesn't suffer.

"Are they going to be able to play Ryder Cup or not, the players that went? In my mind, Sergio, even if he is not breaking 90, he's a no-brainer pick, right? So what's going to happen? 

"You have quite a few young Americans. Bryson went, somebody that's probably going to be on the team in the future. 

"I think a week like that is a true essence of the game. That's where we all love to play."

Cameron Smith continued his strong start to the Memorial Tournament on Friday, sitting alone atop the leaderboard on eight under after being one of three players to shoot under 70 on back-to-back days.

The Australian was in a six-way tie for the lead after round one, and pushed on well his second time around, finishing with just one bogey – on the sixth hole – which was sandwiched by birdies on the fifth and seventh.

Smith then birdied the par-five 11th, and the par-three 12th, showing his impressive touch over long and short distances, but where he really made his money was around the greens.

According to Data Golf, Smith had negative strokes-gained off the tee and with his approach shots in round two, but was second overall in strokes-gained around the greens (plus 3.55), trailing only Beau Hossler (plus 4.25). They gapped the field, with nobody else gaining more than plus 2.83 in that shot category.

Sitting one stroke off the lead is American Denny McCarthy and South Korea's Lee Kyoung-hoon, while one stroke further back at six under are round one's joint-leaders Davis Riley, Cameron Young and Luke List, along with Jhonattan Vegas and Billy Horschel.

McCarthy and Vegas joined Smith as the only players to shoot sub-70 in the opening two rounds.

Rory McIlroy headlines the group at five under in a tie for ninth, along with Francesco Molinari, still well within striking distance heading into the weekend.

A strong international group is at four under, including Canada's Mackenzie Hughes, Chile's Joaquin Niemann and South Korea's Im Sung-jae, and they are one stroke ahead of Ireland's Shane Lowry, Mexico's Abraham Ancer and American Will Zalatoris.

Jon Rahm and Corey Conners will still feel like they have a chance at two under, Max Homa and Xander Schauffele finished well inside the cut-line at one under, and Jordan Spieth shot a disappointing 74 on Friday to take an even par score into the weekend.

England's Aaron Rai – who was number one in strokes-gained off the tee on Friday – along with Australian Adam Scott finished right on the cut-line, making it through at two over, but Matt Fitzpatrick (three over) and Collin Morikawa (four over) were not so lucky.

World number three Cameron Smith headlines a six-way tie atop the Memorial Tournament leaderboard after Thursday's first round at Muirfield Village.

Smith is joined by American trio Luke List, Cameron Young and Davis Riley, as well as Canada's Mackenzie Hughes and South Korea's Lee Kyoung-hoon.

It is the largest leading group after the first round in tournament history, but they all got to their five-under 67 in different ways. 

Young finished the day second in average driving distance (316.8 yards), behind only Jon Rahm, while Lee, Hughes and Smith finished top-six in putts-per-green-in-regulation.

List was the only member of the leading group to finish with less than two bogeys, and Riley played an all-round game; top-15 in driving distance while being dialled in with his putter down the back-nine, going five-under from the 11th hole to the 17th.

US PGA Championship runner-up Will Zalatoris is part of the three-man group one stroke off the lead, while Max Homa and Canada's Corey Conners are in the logjam at three under.

A star-studded group finished with a two-under 70, including Rory McIlroy, Jordan Spieth, Xander Schauffele and Im Sung-jae, while Chile's Joaquin Neimann is with Collin Morikawa and Jason Day at one under.

Patrick Cantlay and Rahm were even-par, Mito Pereira will need a solid second round to make the cut after a one-over finish, and Hideki Matsuyama was handed his first career disqualification for using a wood with paint on its face – deemed illegal. He was three over at the time of the incident.

Justin Thomas ultimately prevailed in a thrilling US PGA Championship, lifting the Wanamaker Trophy after Mito Pereira's collapse on the 18th hole forced a playoff.

Holding the lead coming into the final round, Pereira only needed a par on the 18th hole to secure his first PGA Tour victory, but put his drive in the water and could not even salvage a bogey to earn his spot in the playoff.

With a double-bogey capping off a final round 75, he went from six under to four under, tying for third with Cameron Young.

The playoff was contested between Thomas and Will Zalatoris after both players produced clutch shots late in their rounds to finish at five under.

Thomas – who tied for the round of the day with his 67 – had a birdie putt on 18 to move to six under, but could not convert from 10 feet, finishing with a par to head into the clubhouse in outright second place, trailing Pereira by one shot.

Zalatoris, on the other hand, bogeyed the 16th to drop to four under, but came right back with a birdie on 17. He had a tricky par putt on 18 to remain tied with Thomas, and he remained cool under pressure.

In the playoff – which was contested over the aggregate score of three holes, the first being a par-five – Zalatoris appeared to strike first as he found the fairway with his drive, while Thomas hit the rough. Thomas was forced to lay-up, while Zalatoris made the green in two.

Zalatoris two-putted for his birdie, while Thomas put his wedge to within six feet, converting his birdie putt to tie the first playoff hole.

The second playoff hole was the 17th – a drivable par-four – and Thomas found the green with his drive. Zalatoris did not, and after chipping into birdie range, he missed his putt, tapping in for par. Thomas, on the other hand, safely two-putted for birdie to take a one stroke lead into the final playoff hole.

Both players drove well and made the green in regulation on the last, and after Zalatoris failed to sink a long birdie putt, Thomas only needed to two-putt for par to secure his second career major, making no mistakes. It is his second PGA Championship, five years after winning at Quail Hollow.

Also making the top-five was the English duo of Matt Fitzpatrick and Tommy Fleetwood – with the latter matching Sunday's best score – and American Chris Kirk, tied for fifth at three under.

It was a strong final round from Rory McIlroy, who rebounded from a disappointing 74 on Saturday to shoot 68 – one stroke off the round of the day – to finish outright eighth at two under.

McIlroy looked like he may be trending for a legendary final round after four consecutive birdies starting on the second hole, but he would claim no more from the fifth.

A four-man group of Mexico's Abraham Ancer, Ireland's Seamus Power and the American pairing of Tom Hoge and Brendan Steele rounded out the top-10, and the last players to finish under par.

Cameron Smith and Xander Schauffele highlighted the group at even par, while the big names struggled, as Jordan Spieth finished at four over, Jon Rahm wrapped up at six over, and Collin Morikawa at eight over.

Shot of the day

The shot of the day went to Englishman Laurie Canter, who birdied the difficult par-four 18th hole from the fairway.

After his drive found the rough, he was forced to lay-up 97 yards from the pin, but was able to convert it thanks to some sharp backspin.

A little birdie told me…

Before his horror drive on 18, Pereira earned his 71-hole lead with great success on the difficult par-fives and par-threes. He joined Webb Simpson as the only players to shoot a combined six under on the par-fives (fifth and 13th holes) over their four rounds

Only four players finished under par for the week on the par-threes (sixth, eighth, 11th and 14th holes) – Fitzpatrick and Rose were two under, while Pereira and Steele shot one under.

On average, nobody drove the ball further than Rory McIlroy this week, posting 347.6 yards per drive. However, the longest drive of the week went to Jon Rahm, with a 418-yard bomb.

Jon Rahm said "everything was difficult" on day two at the US PGA Championship, but matters could hardly have been more different for Justin Thomas.

Rahm, one of the pre-tournament favourites, endured a difficult opening round at Southern Hills Country Club but the Spaniard responded with a respectable, one under par 69 on Friday.

That leaves the world number two on two over par, which should just see him sneak over the cut line. Former world number one Dustin Johnson, meanwhile, is unlikely to be so fortunate, having carded a second successive 73.

Rahm conceded that he has found it tough going so far, though he was nevertheless happy with his second round.

"I can't say I played bad. I gave myself a lot of chances," said Rahm, who balanced out two bogeys with three birdies.

"I think the main thing yesterday was a couple of mistakes, just mental mistakes. There was three; one on eight, skulling that chip. Should have made something better than a six on 13 with a five-iron in my hands. And putting it on dry land on 17.

"Those are three shots that I could have done better and I could be at one under right now, and that was just strictly mental.

"Today I can't ask much more of myself. It was a good day, it was good golf. Just tough. And I played really good to show one under."

One player thriving in the tough conditions in Oklahoma is Thomas, who took the lead off Rory McIlroy with another round of 67, replicating his score from Thursday.

Thomas' sole major triumph so far came at the US PGA Championship in 2017, and the American looks well-placed to push on after heading into the clubhouse on six under through his two rounds, putting the pressure right back on overnight leader McIlroy, who bogeyed his second hole on Friday to drop two shots off the new leader.

"Very pleased. I felt I played, although I played solid yesterday, I played really, really well today," said Thomas.

"The conditions were obviously very difficult. I stayed very patient, tried to get in my own little world and get in a zone and just tried to execute each shot the best I could.

"I felt we did a great job of that and am glad to have a good round to show for it."

Thomas only slipped up once, on the 14th, but made four birdies, but the 29-year-old is wary not to get ahead of himself.

"I like this golf course. I feel like I'm playing well," he continued. "We're halfway through so it's still a long way from home, but I'm very, very pleased with where everything is at and the frame of mind and state of mind that I'm in.

"Just need to try to maintain that the best that I can and keep trying to play good golf."

Phil Mickelson's legacy has not been ruined by his contentious comments regarding the LIV Golf Invitational, according to Jon Rahm.

Mickelson has not played since February after he was criticised for comments about the Saudi Arabian-backed breakaway competition, which holds its first event in London next month.

The 51-year-old apologised for those comments and decided to take a break from golf, though he was one of a number of high-profile players to then request a release from the PGA Tour for the inaugural LIV event at the Centurion Club from June 9 to 11.

Mickelson's representatives confirmed at the time that he had not definitively decided on playing in the tournament, or indeed the US PGA Championship, which tees off on Thursday in Tulsa.

The American is the reigning champion, having become the oldest player to win a major when he triumphed at Kiawah Island in 2021, but last week the tournament organisers confirmed he had withdrawn.

While Mickelson's withdrawal may well boost the chances of Rahm winning at Southern Hills Country Club, the world number two is sad not to see one of golf's biggest stars at the event.

However, he believes six-time major winner Mickelson should be able to return to the PGA Tour when he sees fit.

Rahm told Sky Sports: "He's given his life to the sport. Nobody has been better to the fans over a 30-year span and nobody has done more for the Tour than he has, right.

"Obviously Tiger [Woods] took his game to many places, but Phil won over 40 events and six majors.

"That characteristic smile and thumbs up are synonymous with Phil Mickelson. It's a name that is known worldwide.

"I don't think that a couple comments at the wrong time should dictate the legacy of a man.

"If anything, we're in America, the land of opportunity, right? If there's a place where things can be forgiven, and you can get back to where you need to be, it's here. I think given time and the proper course of action, that can happen."

That being said, Rahm understands that Mickelson ultimately brought the criticism on himself.

"He said what he said, he brought it on himself, so it needs to come from him to take it back to where it should be," Rahm added.

Golf's world number two, Jon Rahm, believes teenage compatriot Carlos Alcaraz can benefit from having Rafael Nadal around as his burgeoning tennis career progresses.

Nineteen-year-old Spaniard Alcaraz became the first tennis player to beat both Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the same tournament on clay, on his way to becoming the youngest ever winner at the Madrid Open earlier in May.

Alcaraz has won three of the past four tournaments he has entered, including the Miami Open, moving to number six in the ATP world rankings and emerging as a serious challenger for the French Open, which starts on Sunday.

When asked about Alcaraz's rapid ascent, Rahm said Alcaraz can still learn a lot from 21-time grand slam winner Nadal.

"I thought you were talking about a golfer. I was just confused," Rahm joked, speaking ahead of this week's US PGA Championship. "I've heard about what he's done, and I've seen the results. Pretty impressive, especially in the world of tennis.

"He's got some big shoes to fill, because historically Spain has had great tennis players, and obviously with Rafa out there it can be probably daunting yet really exciting too for somebody like him.

"You have a great reference who's done it right in front of you, so I'm sure he can pick his brain and learn. He's got a great start. Hopefully he can keep it going and be a great champion like many others have been."

Following a tie for 27th at the Masters, Rahm returned to action earlier in May, winning the Mexico Open.

The lingering dynamic this weekend at Southern Hills will be the fact Phil Mickelson will not be there to defend his title, following his controversial remarks about the Saudi-backed breakaway golf tour.

Rahm and Mickelson share the same alma mater and agency, and the former continued to defend the six-time major winner.

"Phil has got to do what Phil has got to do," Rahm said. "He's a good friend of mine. I can't remember the last time a major champion didn't defend a title.

"But he's got to do what's best for him. That's all I can say. I can't say it makes me unhappy. As long as he's doing what is best for him, I can't truly say I'm unhappy.

"I would have liked to see him defend. I know he's played good here in the past. But again, he's got to do what he's got to do."

Page 1 of 10
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.