It was near the end of his round Friday, and Jason Day's fate had been sealed. "I got off to a good start, but it sort of caught up with me as the round went on".
Pardon the gallows humor.
McIlroy took some solace from his final six holes, four of which he birdied.
McIlroy, meanwhile, has a bigger hole to climb out of after a 6-over-par 78 on Thursday. Fowler lost his lead with three straight bogeys on the back nine. This is the first time in major championship history that the top-three ranked players have failed to make the cut.
And for all the birdies and blunders at Erin Hills, the most compelling image Friday came from the parking lot, where one star after another left town after missing the cut. They were three shots clear of anyone else.
Day admitted the course lay-out had played on his mind in both his rounds.
"I just played bad golf, man", Day said with a chuckle.
Harman, a two-time PGA Tour victor from Georgia, said, "I was pretty nervous this morning and I got off to a little shaky start".
Johnson also missed the cut at the Memorial, so this was the first time since 2013 (Pebble Beach, Riviera) that he has missed the cut in consecutive events.
Casey started the second round just one shot behind Rickie Fowler, and he tied Fowler briefly with a birdie on the par-4 11th hole before dropping a shot on the 12th. He says the greens on his last few holes "were firming up". It's just a matter of getting competitive rounds under my belt. McIlroy is headed for the Travelers Championship next week in CT, and he has three straight tournaments starting with the Irish Open through the British Open.
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After Thursday's round, McIlroy and his coach Michael Bannon discussed his swing issues.
"It's going to be a fun weekend", he said. "So I did a really good job of staying present, staying focused on the next shot".
Johnson blamed his struggles this week on one club - his putter.
The USGA wants to get away from references of the U.S. Open being the toughest test in golf, preferring instead the "ultimate test".
"You can not play this golf course if you're not in position off the tee, and I wasn't in position", McIlroy said.
The Englishman found himself in trouble when he flew his approach out of rough over the green into the deep fescue and needed five more strokes to get in the cup.
All told, 42 players were under par after two rounds, an unheard of number for the U.S. Open with its notoriously hard course setups. Even though he hasn't won since THE PLAYERS Championship in 2016, he had been playing better of late, finishing second late last month at the AT&T Byron Nelson.
"This has been the best preparation going into a major in my career, but the execution was not there", Day said.
Kim won The Players Championship in May for his second PGA Tour title. "It's still Saturday - 36 holes is a very long time in a U.S. Open". "We get to go home today because Daddy played poorly". He said the width of the fairways negatively affected his focus off the tee. Unless you hit the ball really close, or drop a long putt, you're not making birdie. "The execution was not there".
"I'm looking forward to it very much".
"After yesterday's round, I received a couple of tips from different people, and it seemed to work well", he said. "The walk was great".
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