Dustin Johnson leads US Open after marathon Friday

American follows his opening 67 with a 69 to put himself in prime position at Oakmont

Dustin Johnson has the clubhouse lead at the US Open after a marathon Friday. Photograph: Getty

Dustin Johnson has the clubhouse lead at the US Open after a marathon Friday. Photograph: Getty

 

Lee Westwood was not the only Englishman in contention for a maiden major title as Andy Sullivan and Lee Slattery survived a 36-hole marathon in the US Open at Oakmont.

After thunderstorms wreaked havoc on the opening day, Westwood had four holes of his first round to play on Friday and birdied two of them to complete a three-under-par 67, his lowest opening round in 17 US Open appearances.

That left him just a shot behind halfway leader Dustin Johnson and the 43-year-old then received more good news when Thursday’s early starters were told their second rounds would not start until Saturday, having initially been given a start time of 8:43pm on Friday evening.

Compatriots Sullivan and Slattery were on the other side of the draw and after shooting 71 and 72 respectively in the first round, had just an hour’s break before being sent out to play round two.

But neither were complaining after matching rounds of 68 left Sullivan three off the pace on one under par, with Slattery just a shot further back and dreaming of a shock major victory.

“I feel like I’m at a time in my life where I’ve been on tour for a long time and I’ve got to try to elevate myself up to another level, whether it’s this week, next week, whenever it is,” said the 37-year-old, who came through the 36-hole qualifier at Walton Heath last month.

“I feel I’ve got to win something a little bit bigger to keep on achieving my goals in life.

“Obviously I want to play a Ryder Cup and also just contend in bigger events and one day you never know. Like Ben Curtis did when he came over and played the British Open, you might just knock one of them off and it’s a life-changer.

“But you’ll never do it unless you’re in contention. So you’ve got to get yourself into contention and see how you do under the pressure.”

Sullivan felt being forced to play 36 holes in one day actually worked in his favour, the 30-year-old adding: “I played really well in the morning and I used that momentum to carry on into this afternoon.

“A lot of guys that played well on Thursday had a full day off and they’ve got to come back at it. I felt like I just used that momentum to my advantage and it worked well.”

Westwood, whose tie for second with Jordan Spieth in the Masters extended his unwanted record of most top-three finishes in major championships without a victory to nine, said: “I’ve been playing well and was really looking forward to coming back to Oakmont.

“I had a good experience here last time and I like a challenge. I picked up where I left off at the Masters and the last three events (which produced three top-15 finishes) and I’m very pleased to make a good start. You don’t want to shoot a lot over par and have to chase.

“The Masters gave me a big boost. I had not contended in a big tournament for a while so it was nice to give myself a chance and feel those emotions again. I’ve had more chances (to win a major) at the Masters and the Open but if look at my game, the US Open should suit me more than the others.”

Ireland’s Shane Lowry was a shot behind Westwood after completing his 68 with birdies on the 14th and 17th, but has yet to capitalise on a number of similar good starts this season.

“Weeks like this I tend to get my head around it,” the 29-year-old said. “I know it’s going to be tough and you are going to miss greens and make bogeys so maybe when I am like that I can accept bogeys a little easier.

“Obviously last year at the US Open has helped me a lot. I contended there (finishing joint ninth) and felt like I played really well coming down the stretch on Sunday. My win in Akron (in the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational) was something that I can always look back on and the way I played the last few holes there was great.”

Scotland’s Russell Knox carded two bogeys and two birdies in an opening 70, but Masters champion Danny Willett and Rory McIlroy faced a battle to make the cut after rounds of 75 and 77 respectively.

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