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Friday October 23 2020
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U.S. Open Friday Notebook: Johnson right there again

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The first round of the U.S. Open finally completed at Oakmont on Friday, after suspension of play on Thursday due to some wicked weather.

They still need some more time to finish the second round -- as play was suspended -- and will resume Saturday morning at 7 a.m with about half the field still waiting to get their second rounds started. 

Trying to keep up with the cluttered scoreboard can be a bit confusing as some players have completed two rounds -- while others are halfway through the second round -- and yet others still have to play 18 holes on Saturday morning. 

There's still a lot to be determined when it comes to which players will make the final cut to play the final two rounds. 

This much we do know: Dustin Johnson is right there again, seizing a share of the lead at the end of the day with a 36-hole run that included five birdies and only one bogey. 

Johnson is playing aggressively at Oakmont as he seeks his first Major victory -- using overpowering and accurate ball striking to put himself in contention as he completed rounds of 67 and 69 (4 under) to surge into a tie with Anthony Landry.   

The 624th player in the world, Landry, held a one-shot lead at 4-under par after 18 holes. 

With a 4-foot birdie putt remaining on his last hole of the first round, Landry awoke early this morning to take care of business -- and grab the clubhouse lead that held through the end of the first round. 

Landry now waits to play his second round on early Saturday, when he tees off at 7 a.m. 

"Just one of those rounds that comes to you not once in a lifetime, but once or twice or twice, three times a month," said Landry.

"I'm lucky it was in the first round of the U.S. Open." 

For Johnson, who knows that to win a major championship, he will need to finally break through with more consistency with his putter, Oakmont's greens provides the ultimate test. 

"They (Oakmont's greens) are so hard to putt.  No matter how close you are to the hole, it's just they're so tough," said Johnson.

"I hit so many good putts today that I thought were going in, and burned the edge or lip out.  But that's just how it goes." 

Knowing that he's come close in many majors in recent years -- especially for last year's Open loss at Chambers Bay when lost a lead to Jordan Spieth, missing some big putts in the final holes, Johnson responded by letting everyone know he has put that behind him.

"What happened last year?" Johnson responded, after a post round question about last year's U.S. Open weighing on his mind. 

It's looking like Johnson is pretty well focused on Oakmont through two rounds. 

We'll see if he can get over the hump in the final two rounds. 

Jim Furyk, who was right in the mix at Oakmont in 2007, finishing third, is one of only a handful of players under par.  After posting a 71 in the first round, pushed forward in the second round with a solid 2-under par through seven holes to move to 1-under overall.  
US Open Jim Furyk
After the first round completed on Friday, a few players with local and regional ties had mixed to mediocre results.

Former Penn State standout T.J. Howe (+9) is through four holes in the second round, while fellow former Nittany Lion golf team member, Kevin Foley (+5) will be one of the last to tee off his second round on Saturday (9:01 a.m.) 

Pine Richland alum Mike Van Sickle (+6), along with half the field, had the day off -- after being one of only nine players to complete a round on Thursday. 

It was a tough 24 hours for USGA and Oakmont, in dealing with the repercussions of the bad weather, but it appears that the worst is over. 

In all -- 2.97 inches of rain fell on Oakmont on Thursday and early Friday. 

By the break of dawn Friday, the USGA initially announced that spectator gates would be closed until further notice, as the tournament officials were facing some logistical challenges after hard rain swept through the area on Thursday -- and then later in the evening dropping 0.52 inches of rain after 9 p.m. 

Both the Red and Blue complimentary parking lots were operational on Friday with minor capacity modifications. Spectators are encouraged to carpool for optimal parking conditions. As some transportation routes may change, fans should carefully watch for updated trail signage and follow support personnel along all routes.
The good news is that as the day went on, while much of the spectator areas remained muddy and wet, things began to dry out.  

How tough is Oakmont -- and demanding can the U.S. Open be? 

In a ten minute walk over a three hole span, I watched some of the players in the world - and of this generation - humbled and shaking their heads

First, on par 4, 17th hole, as Louis Oosthuizen had about a 30 foot uphill eagle putt that he overshot by about 12-feet. Then saw the birdie shot get away -- and missed his par putt for a four-putt. 

Then moments later as I came upon the Par 4, 477 yard 9th hole, near the clubhouse and giant flagpole, Phil Mickleson made it on the green in two shots, but couldn't make seven and four foot putts -- and three-putted his way to a bogey. 

Finally, as I approached the Par 3, 288 yard 8th hole, Austin Jordan was in the rough to the right of the hole which was situated at the bottom of the green. 

Jordan's chip shot was anything but routine.  His club got caught in the rough -- and went sideways into the bunker.  He did chip out of the sand, and settled for a bogey. 

But in each instance, these world class golfer did look like an average hacker with humbling moments.  

That's just a taste of how much Oakmont can bite back at even the best players in the World. 

The USGA will offer spectators complimentary shuttle service from the North Side T Station in downtown Pittsburgh to and from the U.S. Open Championship on Saturday and Sunday. The first shuttles will depart at 5:30 a.m. and run every 15 minutes until the conclusion of play each day. Paid parking will be available at nearby lots and parking decks.

The complimentary Blue and Red parking lots will also be fully operational and running on schedule through the weekend, as well as the Passenger, Taxi or Limousine Drop off at the Tenth Street Elementary School location in Plum Borough. Play will begin at 7 a.m. at storied Oakmont Country Club Saturday, followed by third-round play later in the day.

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