Brooks Koepka says he has plenty of support on tour in his ongoing feud with Bryson DeChambeau and has no interest in sitting down to talk things out with his rival. 

Their spat has dominated golf's off-course buzz since a leaked video clip from an interview at the US PGA Championship showed Koepka rolling his eyes when DeChambeau walked by. 

Koepka showed no interest in ending the affair in an interview with ESPN on Tuesday ahead of this week's Travelers Championship in Connecticut. 

He said he has received approving text messages from NFL and NBA players, among others. 

"These guys love it," Koepka said. "I think it's drawn them into the golf a little bit more and is making it more fun for everybody. 

"Look, I've enjoyed it. I've definitely gotten the better of him, and I've enjoyed that." 

Closer to home, Koepka said his fellow PGA Tour players and officials also have provided positive feedback. 

"There's been a few laughs, a few 'I can't believe you did that -- I'm glad you did.' It's been fun," he said. 

"I've gotten good response from a bunch of the guys on tour, from everybody from the tour. It's been something I think everybody's enjoyed and definitely changing up the game a little bit."

Though the pair have appeared on unfriendly terms since at least 2019, when Koepka called out DeChambeau for slow play, their most recent fallout has generated a different kind of attention for the tour. 

Koepka seems inclined to keep it going, as indicated by his response to being asked in the ESPN interview how he would respond if DeChambeau approached him with an offer to sit down and smooth things over. 

"There's not much to talk about," Koepka said. "This whole thing started, basically, because of him. I'll leave it at that. I don't see us having dinner or drinks ... just to settle it."

U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm knew his "fairytale story" would have a "happy ending" after celebrating his first major title.

Rahm earned a breakthrough triumph at Torrey Pines after outlasting Louis Oosthuizen by one stroke following his final-round 67 in San Diego on Sunday.

The 26-year-old Rahm birdied his final two holes as he became the fourth Spanish player to claim a major and first at the U.S. Open.

"It felt like such a fairytale story that I knew it was going to have a happy ending," Rahm, whose previous best major performance was tied for third at the 2019 U.S. Open, said during his news conference.

"I could just tell, just going down the fairway after that first tee shot, that second shot, and that birdie, I knew there was something special in the air. I could just feel it. I just knew it.

"I couldn't have told you in the moment I felt something special. That's why I played as aggressive as I did because it was like, man, this is my day; everything's going to go right. I felt like that helped me become. I just knew that I could do it and believed it."

"I'm still a little bit on golf mode, right? I feel like, when I'm in that mode, it takes me a while to get out of it," he added. "It probably won't happen tonight. It might happen tomorrow. I don't know, at some point it will hit me. I'm still thinking there might be a playoff. I've been scarred before.

"It's incredible that I'm sitting next to this trophy. A couple weeks ago, I watched my good friend Phil [Mickelson] win it [US PGA Championship]. I took a lot of inspiration from that. I've been close before, and I just knew on a Sunday, the way I have been playing the last few majors, I just had to be close. I knew I could get it done. I'm keeping that good Sunday mojo going. Man, I got it done in a fashion that apparently can only happen to me at Torrey Pines."

Rahm's success came after he was forced to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament when leading by six shots, having tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month.

"I believed from the biggest setbacks we can get some of the biggest breakthroughs, and that's why I stay so positive," said Rahm.

"That's why I kept telling Kelley, when she was devastated about what happened and my family and everybody around me, something good is going to come. I don't know what, but something good is going to come, and I felt it today out there on the golf course."

Oosthuizen was in a three-way share of the lead heading into the deciding round and opened up a one-shot lead on a gripping final day.

But Oosthuizen (71) – the 2010 Open Championship winner – was unable to keep Rahm at bay.

"Right now I didn't win it. I'm second again. It's frustrating. It's disappointing," said Oosthuizen.

"I'm playing good golf, but it's winning a major championship is not just going to happen. You need to go out and play good golf.

"I played good today, but I didn't play good enough."

Jon Rahm birdied his final two holes to outlast Louis Oosthuizen by one stroke for U.S. Open victory and his first major title.

Oosthuizen was in a three-way share of the lead heading into the deciding round and opened up a one-shot lead on a gripping final day at Torrey Pines.

But Rahm rallied in San Diego, where the emotional Spanish star dramatically birdied the 17th and 18th holes to claim a lead he never relinquished on Sunday.

Rahm signed for a four-under-par 67 to finish six under through 72 holes as 2010 Open Championship winner Oosthuizen (71) settled for a runners-up cheque.

At the scene of his maiden PGA Tour win – the 2017 Farmers Insurance Open – Rahm became the fourth player from Spain to win a major and first at the U.S. Open.

Rahm, who was forced to withdraw from the Memorial Tournament when leading by six shots after testing positive for coronavirus earlier this month, said post-round: "I'm a big believer in karma. After what happened a couple of weeks ago, I stayed really positive, knowing big things were coming.

"I didn't know what it was going to be, but I knew we were coming to a special place, I know I got my breakthrough win here, and it's a very special place for my family. The fact my parents were able to come, I got out of COVID protocol early, I just felt like the stars were aligning.

"I can't even believe I made the first two putts! This was definitely for Seve [Ballesteros]. I know he tried a lot, and wanted to win this one most of all. I just don't know how to explain it! I don't know why, but every time we land here, we are happy. We’re in our spot!"

Oosthuizen was initially circumspect on day four, going one over through eight holes to leave the South African one shot behind defending champion Bryson DeChambeau – who came agonisingly close to a sensational hole-in-one at the par-three eighth.

But DeChambeau was unable to maintain his hot start, finishing with a forgettable six-over-par 77 to end the event eight shots off the pace.

Oosthuizen also failed to keep Rahm at bay – dropped shots at the 11th and 17th holes, paving the way for the red-hot Spanish golfer to emerge triumphant for the first time at a major.

Harris English (68) finished solo third, a stroke better off than Guido Migliozzi (68), two-time U.S. Open winner Brooks Koepka (69) and Collin Morikawa (70) as former world number one Rory McIlroy's final-round 73 resulted in a share of seventh spot at one under.

World number one Dustin Johnson (74) and fellow stars Jordan Spieth (72) Justin Thomas (73), Patrick Reed (67) and Sergio Garcia (68) closed out the event tied for 19th.

Louis Oosthuizen opened up a one-shot lead in a gripping final round at the U.S. Open.

Oosthuizen was in a three-way share of the lead heading into Sunday at Torrey Pines but was initially circumspect, going one over through eight.

That put the 2010 Open winner a shot behind defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, who came agonisingly close to a sensational hole-in-one at the par-three eighth.

That birdie result was enough for the outright lead on five under at the turn, although the American's first bogey of the weekend on 11 came as Oosthuizen's putter heated up, picking up shots on nine and 10. Oosthuizen dropped one at 11 though.

DeChambeau erred again, meaning Jon Rahm – who flew out of the blocks with back-to-back birdies – was the nearest challenger to Oosthuizen alongside another overnight leader Mackenzie Hughes on four under.

Rory McIlroy drained a 35-footer on the fourth, leaving him well-placed early on minus four.

However, the Northern Irishman passed up three further birdie opportunities by the midway point of his round and his hopes were fading when he bogeyed the 11th.

That left McIlroy level on three under with Brooks Koepka, although the American four-time major winner was through 16 holes and appeared to have missed his moment to make a decisive move.

The 2020 US PGA champion Collin Morikawa was one of the pack on four under until he went through the green on 13 and left with a double bogey.

Louis Henley was alongside Oosthuizen and Hughes in the clubhouse on Saturday but also dropped back to minus two, albeit in less spectacular fashion than Morikawa.

Bryson DeChambeau is fully embracing the atmosphere created by the so-called 'Brooksy bros' at the U.S. Open.

There is little love lost between defending champion DeChambeau and two-time winner Brooks Koepka, with their simmering rivalry one of the more intriguing sub-plots in golf during 2021.

At last month's US PGA Championship, a video of Koepka visibly frustrated at an interruption from DeChambeau went viral, which led to the pair trading back-and-forth jibes on social media.

Prior to the tournament, DeChambeau admitted the two just "don't like each other". On Sunday, as he contemplated going for the par-five 18th in two while in a sand trap, fans of Koepka yelled "go get 'em Brooksy" and "Brooks would go for it".

DeChambeau resisted the temptation to bite but when questioned about it after his round, the world number five insists he is relishing the rivalry.

"Hey, I love it. I think it's so much fun," said DeChambeau, who recorded his first ever bogey-free round in major golf to sit two back of leaders Mackenzie Hughes, Louis Oosthuizen and Russell Henley at three under at Torrey Pines.

"People think that it annoys me. If anything, it just creates a great atmosphere for golf. At first, I didn't really know how to handle it. You're kind of thrown into a situation. 

"But now I enjoy it. I think it's great. You've got to embrace it. There's going to be team Bryson, team Brooks out there, and hey, keep it up, I'm happy about it. 

"I'm excited that one day we can eventually get paired up and play together. It would be fun."

DeChambeau, who scored a three-under 68 in round three, is using driver at almost every opportunity in tactics similar to those he employed when winning at Winged Foot last year.

He says he has learned the nuances of coping with major golf.

"You've got to be really patient out here at these majors. It's something that is not easy to do," he added.

"My first few goes at majors, I was not successful or anywhere near successful, and I feel like I'm starting to understand major championship golf and how to play it and how to go about managing my game, my attitude and just my patience level. 

"If I can continue to do that [on Sunday], I think I'll have a good chance."

Jon Rahm is three off the lead after signing for a one-over 72 on Saturday. The Spaniard thinks being part of the chasing pack may actually play to his strengths.

"I feel like it's easy when you're in the lead to get a little tentative and start trying to be a little bit more safe in certain parts," he said. 

"I feel like when you're a couple shots back, you have nothing to lose early on. So, I feel like you can be a little bit more aggressive and try to get some birdies.

"There will be somebody who gets a fast start, and hopefully that's me tomorrow, and I get a fast start, and I get it going fast."

Since winning The Open in 2010, Oosthuizen has been a perennial nearly man in the majors, recording five runners-up finishes including play-off defeats at the 2012 Masters and 2015 Open, while he was tied second to Phil Mickelson at the PGA Championship last month.

The South African is aiming to take the positives from those experiences, though, saying: "The two that really hurt was the playoffs. That's so close to winning.

"You know, the other ones, just good weeks and good results. Could have been better but taking more positive out of it than anything else."

Oosthuizen drained an eagle at the par-five 18th, which drew a huge reaction from the galleries.

"A year ago, that would have been a very boring eagle with a few people going nuts. But that was nice to see everyone back," he said, alluding to the return of fans who were unable to attend in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Ten years to the day after he wrapped up his first major championship win at Congressional, Rory McIlroy put himself in position for another U.S. Open title by shooting 67 Saturday at Torrey Pines. 

McIlroy is three under par for the tournament, two strokes back of the leading trio of Louis Oosthuizen, Mackenzie Hughes and Russell Henley entering Sunday's final round. 

The Northern Irishman will feel good about his chances after a round that featured five birdies and just one bogey a day after he shot a wobbly 73. 

The lone bogey may have been the key to his round, a difficult save that kept him from losing momentum after what had been a positive day. 

"This is the only tournament in the world where you fist pump a bogey," McIlroy told reporters.

"Only losing one there was a big deal, and getting it up-and-down out of the bunker on 16 and making that birdie on 18 just to get that shot back that I lost, really big."

By the end of the day, McIlroy considered it "one of the best rounds of golf I've played in a while." 

The 32-year-old broke an 18-month title drought with his win at the Wells Fargo Championship in May.

He also won that tournament in Charlotte, North Carolina for his first PGA Tour victory six weeks before securing his first major championship a decade ago.

There will be no repeat of that astonishing eight-stroke victory over Jason Day this weekend, but McIlroy is satisfied to be in the hunt for his first major title since the 2014 US PGA Championship. 

"I mean, I'm trying to think of the last time where I really felt like I had a chance [at a major]," he said.

"Carnoustie in '18 felt like I maybe had half a chance, going into the final day at Pebble in 2019.

"But apart from that, there's been some good finishes but never felt like I was in the thick of things.

"I'm just excited for the opportunity to have a chance and be in one of the final groups."

Louis Oosthuizen and Mackenzie Hughes used eagles on the back nine to surge into a share of the lead heading into the final round of the U.S. Open. 

They join Russell Henley atop a crowded leaderboard at Torrey Pines after the second-round co-leader saved par on 18 to complete an up-and-down round and sit at five under par for the tournament. 

Oosthuizen finished with a flourish, draining a downhill putt for eagle on 18 to cap his one-under 70 as he continues the quest for his second major title 11 years after winning the Open Championship. 

The unheralded Hughes, meanwhile, eagled the 13th and birdied the last for a 68 on the day. He is the first Canadian to hold at least a share of the lead after 54 holes of a major since Mike Weir at the 1999 US PGA Championship. 

The 30-year-old missed the cut in his last five PGA Tour starts and has only one career victory, in the 2016 RSM Classic at Sea Island. 

Impressive as Hughes was, the round of the day belonged to Rory McIlroy (67), who also birdied the 18th to reach three under for the tournament exactly 11 years after he closed out his runaway U.S. Open win at Congressional. 

Bryson DeChambeau (68) also lurks two back of the leaders after a bogey-free third round. 

Jon Rahm (72) is among the group at two under as he seeks his first major title, along with 2020 U.S. Open runner-up Matthew Wolff (73) and Scottie Scheffler (70).

The 2016 U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson (68) is four back of the lead at one under along with 2020 US PGA champion Collin Morikawa (70), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (70), Xander Schauffele (72) and Kevin Streelman (72). 

Among other notables, Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas are at even par after shooting 71 Saturday, while Jordan Spieth (68), Martin Kaymer (69), Lee Westwood (71) sit one over. 

Richard Bland, who shared the lead with Henley after the second round, plummeted down the leaderboard to one over with a brutal round of 77 punctuated by the 48-year-old putting his approach shot in the water on 18. 

 

Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson kept themselves well within a shout of second respective US Open successes with excellent third rounds on Saturday.

Johnson put in his best performance of this year's event at Torrey Pines, carding a 68 which moved the world number one to one under par, and he would surely have been even closer to the leaders if not for a dismal loss of form on the back nine on Friday.

"I feel like I'm swinging really well. I didn't drive it on the fairway enough but I felt like I managed the game pretty well. I rolled the putter really nicely today and made a lot of clutch par putts, which is what you've got to do in the US Open," Johnson told Sky Sports.

"When I was on the fairway I felt like I played pretty well, my irons were good and I'm controlling my distance – I'm just not getting enough shots from the fairway.

"I felt like they did a really good job of setting the course up - if you drive it on the fairway, you can attack the golf course and it's been like that all week. There's a few holes obviously where you will take a four and run but for the most part the way they set it up today, you can attack it."

McIlroy, meanwhile, went one better, finishing on 67 for the round to keep his chances firmly alive. The 2011 champion's birdie on the 18th ensured he was the clubhouse leader at three under.

Russell Henley, meanwhile, reached the turn with a two-shot lead over Richard Bland.

The overnight leader reached the front of the ninth in two shots, yet missed his eagle attempt and subsequently had to settle for a three-out par, whereas Henley snatched a birdie.

However, Henley then dropped a shot on the 10th, immediately cancelling out his own advantage.

Bryson DeChambeau is also in the hunt, with the defending champion T3 with McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Matthew Wolff.

Paul Casey had looked sharp earlier in the day, yet bogeys on the 16th and 17th meant he had to settle for 67, and heads into round four on par.

Bryson DeChambeau said his swing fix "came to him" in a dream after the U.S. Open champion kept his title defence alive.

DeChambeau opened his bid for back-to-back U.S. Open trophies with a 73 but the big-hitting American responded by posting a two-under-par 69 on Friday.

An eagle, four birdies and four bogeys saw DeChambeau surge 47 positions on day two, moving within five shots of co-leaders Richard Bland and Russell Henley at Torrey Pines.

Reflecting on his bounce-back display heading into the weekend, DeChambeau credited a late-night tweak.

"I was sleeping and it came to me in the middle of the night," DeChambeau told reporters.

"Woke up and I was like, hmm, I'm going to try this, and my intuition is pretty good, so I went out and tried it and it worked, just keeping the right wrist bent for a lot longer through impact."

"It's more just my intuition telling me there's something weird here, what's going on, and I couldn't figure it out for an hour and a half last night, an hour last night," said DeChambeau said. "Going back and just sitting down, eating dinner and just thinking about it, thinking about it, I literally won't talk to anybody for like an hour, just thinking, thinking, thinking, and sure enough, I went to bed and I found a little something that worked for my driver."

DeChambeau added: "I feel like if I can clean up my iron play and get a little more comfortable with the irons and the drivers, I'll have a good chance for this weekend."

He is tied for 13th alongside the likes of rival Brooks Koepka (73), Justin Thomas (69) and Collin Morikawa (67).

Amid their ongoing feud, DeChambeau and two-time U.S. Open champion Koepka narrowly avoided being paired together for Saturday's penultimate round.

Koepka – eyeing a fifth major crown – lost ground on the leaders after mixing five bogeys and just three birdies but he told reporters: "I feel right there. I feel like I'm in it. Just need to put two solid good rounds and put the ball in the fairway, and that's it. I love the way I'm putting. I love the way I'm striking it. Just need to keep doing it."

Four-time major winner and former world number one Rory McIlroy is a stroke further back following his second-round 73.

"A bit of a rollercoaster, got off to a good start," McIlroy said. "Made a couple of birdies early on and was under par for the round. Then I made a couple of mental errors and missed it in the wrong spots, and when you do that around this golf course, it's just really hard to see a par.

"I made a few bogeys, but birdieing two of the last four holes definitely makes me feel better about the round and gives me a nice bit of momentum going into tomorrow…So, yeah, in for the weekend and still feel like I've got a really good chance."

US PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson also feels he can "make a run at it" after avoiding the cut on Friday.

Richard Bland upstaged a star-studded field to earn a share of the U.S. Open lead at the halfway stage as defending champion Bryson DeChambeau soared up the leaderboard.

Unheralded Englishman Bland, 48, powered to the top of the summit at Torrey Pines thanks to his four-under-par 67 in San Diego, where he continues to prove patience pays off.

Alongside Russell Henley (70) for the one-stroke lead after two rounds, Bland is benefitting from perseverance, having gone almost 20 years without a European Tour title.

At the 478th attempt on the European Tour last month, Bland claimed an emotional win at the British Masters, which earned him a place in his fourth major championship.

Bland – who missed the cut at his one previous U.S. Open appearance in 2009 – dazzled on day two of this year's tournament, storming into the clubhouse lead before being joined by American Henley.

After opening with a 70, Bland holed seven birdies and three bogeys to catapult himself to the top of the standings, before Henley teed off in his second round, amid his improbable dream of clinching a major.

"I feel good about my game," said three-time PGA Tour champion Henley, whose previous best performance at a major came via an 11th-place finish at the 2017 Masters.

"I've never been in this position before in a major. Just feel like I'm going to learn something no matter what happens."

Louis Oosthuizen (71), who was the overnight co-leader along with Henley, ended day two in a tie for third position alongside Matthew Wolff (68), while Bubba Watson (67) and Jon Rahm (70) are a shot further back at three under through 36 holes.

DeChambeau boosted his hopes of back-to-back U.S. Open titles, though the big-hitting American star remains five strokes off the pace heading into the weekend.

A two-under-par 69 saw DeChambeau move to even par as he rose 47 positions into a tie for 13th alongside rival and two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka (73), Justin Thomas (69), Collin Morikawa (67), Harris English (70), Branden Grace (70), Christiaan Bezuidenhout (70) and Adam Hadwin (72).

Koepka – eyeing a fifth major crown – lost ground on the leaders after mixing five bogeys and just three birdies, while Rory McIlroy followed his opening-round 70 with a 73 to be one over the card as world number one Dustin Johnson (73) ended the day two over.

US PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson emerged from the jaws of elimination, qualifying for the weekend via a two-under-par 69 after his forgettable 75 on Thursday.

Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama (76), Adam Scott (75), Sergio Garcia (74), Patrick Reed (73) and Jordan Spieth (69) all avoided the cut, but Justin Rose (77) was not so fortunate at 13 over.

Bubba Watson believes golf should be celebrating the biggest hitters in the game – and he cannot work out why the sport is so "mad at that guy".

Without naming Bryson DeChambeau, Watson appeared to have his mind set on the likes of the man who leads the PGA Tour for driving distance this season.

DeChambeau, who is driving an average of over 320 yards, has faced some flak for placing such an emphasis on physical strength and building up his body to be more powerful off the tee. He plays with custom clubs, each of the same length, and is the defending champion this week at the U.S. Open, an unorthodox winner who rubs some up the wrong way.

Two-time Masters champion Watson, after moving into contention following the second round at Torrey Pines, used his platform to condemn what he sees as a culture of negativity towards players re-thinking the game and finding new ways to win.

"Truthfully, here's the sad part for me. I've got the microphone so I'm going to talk. The sad part for me is we celebrate every sport in the world. We celebrate accomplishments. We celebrate a guy scoring 50 points in the NBA. They are not saying quit shooting three-pointers. But we don't celebrate when a guy makes eight birdies or a guy bombs it 400 yards," Watson said.

"I don't understand how we're not celebrating. We're trying to make golf courses bigger, harder, dumber, however you want to word it, but we're not celebrating our great players.

"I'm definitely not in that group of great players. I'm saying I want to see these guys hammering the ball. I want the next up-and-comer. I want a 6ft 8in guy not playing in the NBA, I want to see him on the PGA Tour bombing the ball.

"We're the only sport not celebrating accomplishments of being a guy working out in the gym that can hit the ball miles. We're mad at that guy. I don't know why, but we are. I'm not, but some people are – golf course designers.

"The NBA, Tom Brady winning, throwing touchdowns, we celebrate that. They don't ever talk about us chopping out of the – hey, he laid up again. That's great. Anyway, that's my rant for the day."

Watson was offloading that baggage after adding a 67 to his opening 72 to reach three under, looking sure to be in contention going into the weekend as he sits just two shots behind clubhouse leader Richard Bland.

DeChambeau followed a 73 with a 69 to sit on level par, still in the hunt at five off the pace.

That was a far healthier position than Patrick Reed, Justin Rose and Jordan Spieth found themselves in.

Reed bogeyed his final hole to slip to three over, a five-foot putt brushing the edge of the cup. Reed won the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines earlier this year but was on the borderline of the cut mark after his round on Friday.

Rose added a 77 to his opening 78, and that meant the former champion had no chance of staying around for the weekend's action.

Three-time major winner Spieth followed an opening 77 with a gutsy 69 to give himself a slim chance of making the cut.

Richard Bland, the Englishman who was a first-time winner at the 478th attempt on the European Tour last month, shot to the top of the U.S. Open leaderboard on Friday.

The 48-year-old enjoyed an emotional victory at the British Masters, held at The Belfry, and that helped to earn him a place in his fourth major championship.

He missed the cut on his one previous U.S. Open appearance, in 2009, but this time at Torrey Pines there was no danger of that, with Bland storming into the clubhouse lead and expressing the hope he might remain in the hunt come the back nine on Sunday.

Bland followed an opening 70 with a 67 to reach five under par, and that put him one ahead of Russell Henley, who was yet to start his second round, with Francesco Molinari and Rafa Cabrera Bello tied for third on three under. They too had yet to get under way. Louis Oosthuizen was also at three under through 14 holes, one over for his day.

Starting on the back nine, Bland began his second round with a birdie at the long par-four 10th and picked up three more shots by the turn, although he also gave two back.

Further gains at two, four and six moved Bland to six under, two clear of the field, but a dropped shot at eight meant his lead was trimmed.

When asked how he was feeling about his effort, Bland said: "Pretty good. Whenever you're leading in a major after 36 holes, you've got to be happy, especially at the U.S. Open. To be five under, I'm over the moon."

Speaking on the Golf Channel, Bland said fellow Englishmen Lee Westwood and Justin Rose, both former world number one players, had been among those who had given him pointers before the tournament began. 

"I got some good information off Lee Westwood on Monday and Rosey on Wednesday. My coach Tim Barter, as well, gave me some notes. But I've been driving the ball well for a while now and that's critical at a U.S. Open, especially for someone like myself. I'm not one of the longer hitters. To hit fairways is more of a premium on a course this long.

"When I saw the course, it's set up pretty straight, it's all there in front of you, so if I kept driving it well I felt I could give myself chances."

Bland, who battled back from losing his European Tour card in 2018, admitted it would be impossible for him not to think about the prospect of landing a major.

"Of course, it's going to be pretty tough not to do that, but you look at the leaderboard and see the guys behind, and there's guys who have got a lot more on their CV than I have," Bland said.

"But I'm going to try to enjoy it, best I can. I'm here to compete and give it the best I've got and hopefully come the back nine on Sunday I'm there or thereabouts.

"That's all you can do, there's still 36 holes to go. Every hole is a potential disaster around here, but if I can keep doing what I'm doing I think I can be in there come Sunday."

He would not become the oldest major winner, of course, should Bland follow his efforts on the opening two days with a title push over the weekend.

Phil Mickelson owns that record, having won the US PGA Championship last month at the age of 50.

At his home course in San Diego this week, Mickelson began his U.S. Open effort with a four-over-par 75, meaning his prospects of adding this title to his collection to complete a career grand slam looked slim as he prepared to set out for his round on Friday. He was likely to need to shoot one or two under par to make the cut.

Richard Bland, the Englishman who was a first-time winner at the 478th attempt on the European Tour last month, shot to the top of the U.S. Open leaderboard on Friday.

The 48-year-old enjoyed an emotional victory at the British Masters, held at The Belfry, and that helped to earn him a place in his fourth major championship.

He missed the cut on his one previous U.S. Open appearance, in 2009, but this time at Torrey Pines there was no danger of that, with Bland storming into the clubhouse lead and expressing the hope he might remain in the hunt come the back nine on Sunday.

Bland followed an opening 70 with a 67 to reach five under par, and that put him one ahead of Russell Henley, who was yet to start his second round, with Francesco Molinari and Rafa Cabrera Bello tied for third on three under. They too had yet to get under way. Louis Oosthuizen was also at three under through 14 holes, one over for his day.

Starting on the back nine, Bland began his second round with a birdie at the long par-four 10th and picked up three more shots by the turn, although he also gave two back.

Further gains at two, four and six moved Bland to six under, two clear of the field, but a dropped shot at eight meant his lead was trimmed.

When asked how he was feeling about his effort, Bland said: "Pretty good. Whenever you're leading in a major after 36 holes, you've got to be happy, especially at the U.S. Open. To be five under, I'm over the moon."

Speaking on the Golf Channel, Bland said fellow Englishmen Lee Westwood and Justin Rose, both former world number one players, had been among those who had given him pointers before the tournament began. 

"I got some good information off Lee Westwood on Monday and Rosey on Wednesday. My coach Tim Barter, as well, gave me some notes. But I've been driving the ball well for a while now and that's critical at a U.S. Open, especially for someone like myself. I'm not one of the longer hitters. To hit fairways is more of a premium on a course this long.

"When I saw the course, it's set up pretty straight, it's all there in front of you, so if I kept driving it well I felt I could give myself chances."

Bland, who battled back from losing his European Tour card in 2018, admitted it would be impossible for him not to think about the prospect of landing a major.

"Of course, it's going to be pretty tough not to do that, but you look at the leaderboard and see the guys behind, and there's guys who have got a lot more on their CV than I have," Bland said.

"But I'm going to try to enjoy it, best I can. I'm here to compete and give it the best I've got and hopefully come the back nine on Sunday I'm there or thereabouts.

"That's all you can do, there's still 36 holes to go. Every hole is a potential disaster around here, but if I can keep doing what I'm doing I think I can be in there come Sunday."

He would not become the oldest major winner, of course, should Bland follow his efforts on the opening two days with a title push over the weekend.

Phil Mickelson owns that record, having won the US PGA Championship last month at the age of 50.

At his home course in San Diego this week, Mickelson began his U.S. Open effort with a four-over-par 75, meaning his prospects of adding this title to his collection to complete a career grand slam looked slim as he prepared to set out for his round on Friday. He was likely to need to shoot one or two under par to make the cut.

Brooks Koepka was pleased with his first round at the U.S. Open, while in-form Phil Mickelson was in an optimistic frame of mind despite struggling in San Diego.

On an interrupted opening day due to fog and weather at Torrey Pines, two-time U.S. Open champion Koepka finished two strokes behind co-leaders Russell Henley and Louis Oosthuizen (through 16) as play was suspended because of darkness on Thursday.

American star Koepka – chasing his fifth major title – set the standard with four birdies in his first 11 holes taking him into a solo lead.

However, two bogeys meant he had to scramble to recover as Koepka ended the day alongside Xander Schauffele, Hayden Buckley, Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, John Rahm (through 17) and Sebastian Munoz (through 14).

Koepka, who has gone on to win or finish second in six of the last 10 majors which he opened with a score in the 60s, said: "You can't win it today but you can definitely lose it. It was nice to get off to a good start, putted well, drove it well on the back nine, my front, but missed a couple fairways there.

"I missed them on the correct side, which is what you've got to do, depending on where the pin location is and get lucky enough where you've got a decent lie and get it there.

"Pretty pleased. Not the best, but I'll definitely take it."

US PGA Championship winner Mickelson is already facing an uphill task following his four-over-par 75.

Mickelson, who became the oldest major winner when he clinched the PGA Championship ahead of Koepka last month, finished with five bogeys, including back-to-back on the front nine.

"It was a great set up and I had some chances to get the round a little bit better," Mickelson said. "Fought hard, made a lot of short putts to kind of keep myself in it and then I ended up bogeying six and seven.

"Two over would have been a pretty good round and I ended up at four, so I'm a little disappointed about that. I feel like I'm close to putting together a good round."

South African veteran Oosthuizen – through 16 holes – moved into a tie at four under after birdieing the 14th.

Winner of the 2010 Open Championship, Oosthuizen is one of three players to finish in the top 10 at each of the last two U.S Opens.

"I just enjoy playing really tough golf courses. I think somehow I focus a little bit better when I play those courses, knowing that the margin for error is really small," said Oosthuizen.

"Especially around this place, you've got to drive it well, you've got to start it in the fairway, and you're going to have trouble if you're missing fairways around this golf course and I've really been driving it good lately."

Four-time major champion Rory McIlroy birdied his final hole to move within three shots of the lead heading into the second round.

"It was really nice. The birdie is awesome," McIlroy – who posted a 70 – said. "I mean, that putt was pretty, I was sort of like, I think it's straight, I'll hit it straight and we'll see. But it was nice to get in, get an extra hour of sleep tonight and it was a bonus to birdie in as well."

Louis Oosthuizen joined Russell Henley in a share of the lead as the opening round of the U.S. Open was interrupted, while Phil Mickelson's quest for back-to-back majors got off to an awful start at Torrey Pines.

A fog-enforced delay meant the start of the major tournament was pushed back by around an hour and a half on Thursday, and while Oosthuizen was unable to finish his round, the 2010 Open Championship winner still ended the day alongside Henley atop the leaderboard.

Oosthuizen – one of three players to finish in the top 10 at each of the last two U.S Opens, joining Rory McIlroy and Xander Schauffele – moved into a tie at four under after birdieing the 14th hole in San Diego.

Henley had set the early pace after claiming an early lead behind his impressive four-under-par 67, which was enough for him to initially head back to the clubhouse with a one-shot lead over Francesco Molinari and Rafa Cabrera Bello.

It was Henley's sixth career score of 67 or better in a major championship and first since the 2018 US PGA Championship (65 in round two).

Molinari and Cabrera Bello remain a stroke off the pace heading into Friday, with the first round scheduled to resume at 06:50 local time.

Two-time U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is not far behind following his two-under-par 69 to kick off his pursuit of a fifth major crown.

Koepka, who finished second behind Mickelson at the PGA Championship, set the standard with four birdies in his first 11 holes taking him into a solo lead.

However, two bogeys meant he had to scramble to recover as Koepka ended the day alongside Schauffele, Hayden Buckley, Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, John Rahm (through 17) and Sebastian Munoz (through 14).

Koepka has gone on to win or finish second in six of the last 10 majors which he opened with a score in the 60s.

World number one Dustin Johnson and star Rory McIlroy were both through 17 holes when play was called for the day.

Johnson had mixed a birdie with a bogey, while four-time major champion and 2011 U.S. Open winner McIlroy had an eventful start with three bogeys and four birdies.

Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau and his bid for back-to-back trophies started with a two-over-par 73.

American star Mickelson ended the round two shots worse off than DeChambeau following his forgettable 75.

Mickelson, who became the oldest major winner when he clinched the US PGA Championship last month, finished with five bogeys, including back-to-back on the front nine.

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