Dustin Johnson Pulls Away heading into the Weekend at Shinnecock

Spectators walk the grounds in a steady rain during a practice round for the U.S. Open Golf Championship Wednesday

It was Thursday just as it ever was.

Ian Poulter is finally enjoying the U.S. Open after more than a decade of frustration and despite a couple of late miscues on Friday, the Briton heads into the weekend tied for fourth and well in contention for a maiden major title.

Yes, he hit the ball well on Friday, long, straight, and true against a Shinnecock Hills course tamed from the previous day, only soft, friendly breezes blowing where vicious gusts had once wreaked havoc. And the players so small.

Rose, the 2013 champion, shot a three-over 73 at Shinnecock Hills to end four over and trail Dustin Johnson, Daniel Berger, Tony Finau, and Brooks Koepka. And I wasn't even playing. "I chose to take the two-shot penalty and move on", he said. I thought that would have been a great score. 1 was phenomenal last weekend in Memphis and cruised to a six-shot victory, and he has yet to falter through 36 holes at the U.S. Open. He doubled over in laughter.

However, the 42-year-old then thinned a bunker shot on the eighth across the green, duffed his next shot into heavy rough and ran up a triple-bogey seven, with a bogey on the ninth completing a miserable half an hour. Rahm stood for what seemed like forever, spitting unseen epithets into the hand cupping his mouth.

Woods finished 10 over par following a 72. He didn't really react to any of his four birdies except for a 45-foot downhill putt at the par-3 seventh that just barely found the bottom of the cup.

"There's nobody more confident here than me", Koepka said.

"I wasn't even hitting the goal, so the goalkeeper had nothing to deal with", he said. "Unfortunately, I just haven't done that".

In such a setting, the list of victims is far longer than that of the satisfied.

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Woods, McIlroy, Spieth and Day had little chance of sticking around after first-round struggles. He still made bogey, but it beat having to go back to the tee to play his third shot.

At least he wasn't the high man in his group.

Four-time major victor Rory McIlroy also missed the cut.

Mickelson's shocking display in the third round earned him a 2-stroke penalty for breaking the rule against hitting a moving ball and led to a 10 on the hole, an 81 overall. Both he and McIlroy declined to speak to the media afterward. He took three shots to get up the slope and onto the 10th green, making double bogey. But he couldn't outrun the carnage. Bogeys kept flowing, and by the time play had mercifully ended, three-over was, remarkably, good enough to tie the lead.

Henley emerged from the hard opening round sounding as confident as anyone could be.

"You've got to play really good golf if you want to shoot a good score", he said. I've beaten all these guys before.

Then he dropped this little reminder of how it used to be: "One year, I did it three times". He shot 82. He has endured more than his share of bad luck, bad breaks and bad shots in the majors. The other nine were a combined 52 over Thursday. That was a dramatic, courageous, one-legged, five-round, sudden-death win over Rocco Mediate, marking the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines as one of the most memorable golf tournaments of all time.

That goes for Johnson, too. "It's going to take the same kind of focus". I just have not made any putts, and I haven't made those key ones to keep the momentum going, or if I have any positive momentum, I miss a putt and derail it.

All those with a tentative perch atop this leaderboard have their plans.

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