Richard Bland shares lead as unlikely group thriving at U.S. Open

SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Open leaderboard is topped by an eclectic group coming into the weekend at Torrey Pines.

Richard Bland, a 48-year-old journeyman from England, who acquired into the sphere by not too long ago capturing his first European Tour win after 477 tries with out one, seized a share of the 36-hole lead at 5-under with a morning second spherical of 4-under 67 Friday.

Bland has performed in three profession main championships, lacking the minimize within the 1998 British Open, lacking the minimize within the 2009 U.S. Open and completed tied for twenty seventh within the 2017 British.

“I used to be coming off a few good outcomes, a win and a 3rd in Europe,’’ Bland stated. “I used to be feeling fairly good about my sport. I’ve been driving the ball properly for 5, six weeks now, which is the cornerstone should you’re going to place a combat up for a U.S. Open.

“When I noticed this place on Monday, it sort of set as much as my eye. I assumed, ‘I can play around here.’ ’’

Russell Henley is tied with Bland for the lead at 5-under after taking pictures 70 Friday. Henley, who has three profession PGA Tour wins (the latest in 2017), has performed in 25 profession majors and by no means had a top-10 end.

“I be ok with my sport,’’ Henley stated. “I’ve by no means been on this place earlier than in a serious. I simply really feel like I’m going to study one thing it doesn’t matter what occurs. Intimidating? I don’t know. I’ve by no means performed this properly in a U.S. Open.’’

Asked what he is aware of about Bland, with whom he’ll be paired within the closing group Saturday, Henley stated, “I do know he received earlier this 12 months. It may need been his first win on the European Tour. Other than that, I don’t. I’m certain he is aware of nothing about me too.’’

South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen, who has the doubtful distinction of getting a profession Grand Slam of runner-up finishes in all 4 majors, and Matthew Wolff, who returned this week after a two-month mental-break hiatus, are each tied for second at 4-under.

Wolff, who held the 54-hole lead at the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot and completed second to Bryson DeChambeau, admitted he’s “very stunned’’ at how properly he’s enjoying after taking a lot time away from the sport.

“I do know that I’ve performed good golf prior to now, however the low time that I had was fairly robust,’’ he stated. “My confidence was shot. I’d say I got here right here with very, very … I’d say no expectations. I’d say my expectations coming right here have been to take pleasure in it and be joyful, and I didn’t even know if I used to be going to have the ability to do this. Thankfully, I’m, as properly as enjoying properly.’’

Bubba Watson, who shot 67 Friday and is 3-under for the event, has performed poorly in U.S. Opens for the previous decade. His final 10 U.S. Open outcomes since 2011: tied for 63rd, missed minimize, tied for thirty second, missed minimize, missed minimize, tied for 51st, missed minimize, missed minimize, missed minimize, and tied for thirty first final 12 months at Winged Foot.

So, to say Watson being close to the highest of the leaderboard is an unlikely incidence is a major understatement. And that’s not misplaced on him.

“Whatever place I’m in, I made the minimize, in order that’s a bonus for me,’’ he stated.

On the opposite finish of that spectrum is Jon Rahm, who’s additionally 3-under after taking pictures 70 Friday. Rahm was the favourite to win this week, coming off sizzling kind and the actual fact his first profession PGA Tour win got here at Torrey Pines in 2017.

Rahm, in fact, is coming off that nightmare at Memorial a number of weeks in the past, when he was pressured to withdraw from the event regardless of main by six photographs coming into the ultimate spherical, after he examined optimistic for COVID-19.

“I do imagine in karma within the sense that good issues occur to good folks, and unhealthy issues occur to folks that do unhealthy issues,’’ Rahm stated. “We’re speaking about issues I can’t management. What occurred a pair weeks in the past is one thing I can’t management.’’

Watson stated he believes he’s poised for a possible massive weekend.

Asked how he feels about his place, Watson stated: “I don’t know the place I’m at, however I do know I’m speaking to you all [reporters], so I do know I’m doing all proper. I’m trying ahead to [the weekend], although. A golf course that I’ve been profitable round a number of instances, top-10 a number of instances, so trying ahead to the problem sort of. Should be enjoyable.’’

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