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Richard Bland, Russell Henley sit atop U.S. Open after 2nd round

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The U.S. Open might be shaping up as another major championship with an elder statesman making a mark.

Englishman Richard Bland shot 4-under-par 67 in the second round of the U.S. Open on Friday at Torrey Pines in San Diego, so he’ll go to the weekend as a co-leader.

Bland, at age 48, is the oldest 36-hole leader in tournament history.

“As any golf career, you’re going to have peaks and troughs,” Bland said. “Of course you are. But I just think every kind of sportsman, sportswoman, they have that never-die or that never-quit attitude, no matter whether it’s golf or it’s tennis or it’s boxing, whatever it is.”

Bland shares the lead Friday with first-round co-leader Russell Henley, who shot 70 on Friday.

Bland was among those with early tee times for the second round, and he took advantage by posting seven birdies. He wanted to keep it simple, moving to 5 under at the midway mark of the tournament.

“If you just keep putting the ball in play, then you’re going to give yourself a chance,” Bland said.

Henley moved to 6 under before finishing with a bogey on the par-5 ninth hole.

South African Louis Oosthuizen (71) and Matthew Wolff (68) are tied for third at 4 under. Bubba Watson (67) and Spaniard Jon Rahm (70), who returned this week after a COVID-19-related layoff, are next at 3 under.

Rahm’s performance is shaping up as compelling after he was forced to withdraw from the Memorial earlier this month while holding the lead following three rounds.

“What happened a couple weeks ago is something I can’t control, unfortunately,” he said. “But what I can do is control what I do every time. Just every second of the day, just following the routine, make sure I’m hydrated, make sure I’m eating, and make sure I’m thinking the right things out there on the golf course.”

About three dozen golfers completed first rounds Friday after play was suspended Thursday because of darkness — a situation caused earlier when the first round was delayed for about 90 minutes because of fog.

Bland got off to a torrid start, going 2 under for the round with some golfers still on the course finishing their first rounds.

Bland, appearing in his second U.S. Open (missed cut in 2009), captured the top spot despite playing the par-5 holes in a combined 1 over for two rounds.

Yet this is a continuation of Bland’s strong play after winning last month’s British Masters, when he became the oldest first-time winner on the European Tour.

“I was coming in with some good confidence and managed to carry that on,” Bland said.

Bland’s surge provided another example that older golfers in major championships can have success. Phil Mickelson, then 50, won last month’s PGA Championship.

Mickelson made the cut this week after a second-round 69 put him at 2 over for the tournament.

Henley said he doesn’t know much about Bland other than he was a recent winner on the European Tour.

“I’m sure he knows nothing about me, too,” Henley said.

They’ll know more after playing in Saturday’s final pairing.

Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau also shot 69 to move to even-par, good for a share of 13th place heading into the weekend.

“I’m putting really well,” DeChambeau said. “But 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.”

Two-time champion Brooks Koepka, who led briefly Thursday, also is at even-par following a 73. That was the worst score of the day for any golfer remaining in the top 20.

“If you do what you’re supposed to do, you can shoot 6-under,” Koepka said. “But you can be just slightly off like I was today and just grind out and be a couple over.”

Oosthuizen played his final two holes of the first round Friday before embarking on the next round. His first-round 67 made him a co-leader as he began the U.S. Open with a sub-70 round for the third year in a row.

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

Among those taking a big tumble was Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama of Japan, who finished with a 76 to drop to 3 over. Golfers sitting 4 over and better were projected to move to the third round.

Viktor Hovland withdrew during the second round because of eye irritation, apparently because of sand blowing in his face. He held a score of even-par at the time after an opening-round 74.

–Field Level Media

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