Matt Fitzpatrick makes ace at US Open as Rory McIlroy stays in contention
Defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick enjoyed another memorable moment in the US Open as Rory McIlroy remained in touch with the leaders at Los Angeles Country Club.
Fitzpatrick recorded the third hole-in-one of the week on the 115-yard 15th in the second round, his tee shot spinning back into the hole just as those of Matthieu Pavon and Sam Burns had done on Thursday.
However, Fitzpatrick could not see where the ball had landed and was walking off the tee before the roar from the crowd sparked some enthusiastic, if rather belated, celebrations.
The eagle lifted Fitzpatrick from one over par to one under, but he had slipped back to one over by the time American Wyndham Clark set the early clubhouse target on nine under.
Clark added a 67 to his opening 64 to take over at the top of the leaderboard from Rickie Fowler and Xander Schauffele, who were among the later starters.
Fowler and Schauffele had both shot 62 in the first round to record the lowest score in US Open history and equal the lowest in any men’s major, while the scoring average of 71.38 was another tournament record.
Tournament officials insisted they would not respond by making conditions “stupid hard”, although the par-three 11th was playing 297 yards on Friday and water had only been applied to “isolated spots on the putting greens for turf health”.
John Bodenhamer, chief championships officer of the USGA, told NBC: “[On Friday], as planned, we will play the golf course longer.
“We’re not going to force anything. We could do things that could make it stupid hard. We’re not going to do that.”
Dustin Johnson found the going hard enough on his own early on, the 2016 champion running up an eight on the second after tangling with a fairway bunker, thick rough and the barranca which runs down the left of the hole.
McIlroy was also among the early starters and dropped a shot on the 11th, but bounced back in style by holing a 32ft birdie putt on the 12th which had several feet of break from left to right.
Dropped shots on the 13th and 17th took McIlroy to the turn in 37, but the four-time major winner covered the first six holes of the front nine in three under to improve to six under overall.
It had, however, taken McIlroy’s group four hours to complete 13 holes as the pace of play began to prove the problem which had been feared.