After shooting a lackluster two over par 74 in the first round of the U.S. Open on Thursday, twenty-five year-old Hideki Matsuyama hit the road running on Friday morning at Erin Hills. You could tell as soon as the young Japanese super-star hit his tee shot on the brutal first hole that he was on a mission to get himself off the cut line and in position to make a run at his first major championship.
After the sun set in the Wisconsin sky late Friday evening, Hideki Matsuyama and his number four world ranking is the top player remaining in the 117th U.S. Open who will play on the weekend.
Matsuyama got the birdie train rolling at the first hole and narrowly missed a birdie putt at the par three 9th hole to make the turn at 30. He cooled off on the backside with just one birdie to close with with a seven under par 65 on the day to match Chez Reavie for the low rounds on the day.
But more importantly, Matsuyama was bogey-free on the day and closed within two shots of the lead.
“I really can’t think about it until maybe after I win. But anytime a Japanese player wins a major, it would be great for the golf world in Japan,” Matsuyama said after a sublime 7-under 65 on Friday.
The 2017 U.S. Open will go in the history books as the first since the world ranking system began back in the 80’s where the top three players will not make the weekend in a U.S. Open.
What we have left as “moving day” starts, is a four-way tie for the lead at seven under par and three more players at six under par including first-round leader Rickie Fowler….. and a mixed leaderboard it is.
You have to go all the way down to a tie for 19th place at three under par to find major championship pedigree.
The 2017 Masters Champ, Sergio Garcia and two-time major champion Martin Kaymer. Kaymer won the 2010 PGA Championship and ran away with the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehursr. He also won the Players Championship the same year.
There are other major champions still in the field such as Ernie Els, Louis Oosthuizen, Jim Furyk and Jordan Spieth, but most are too far back to make a serious run at this U.S. Open.
Hideki Matsuyama could become the first Japanese player to win a major championship.
Fellow countryman, Isao Aoki battled Jack Nicklaus for the 1980 U.S. Open Championship at Baltusrol in one of the more memorable Opens but came up two shots shy of a victory.
Matsuyama has four wins on the PGA Tour to go along with eight on the Japan Tour. The four wins on the PGA Tour were quality victories that include a World Golf Championship(WGC), back-to-back Waste Management Phoenix Opens and a Memorial victory in 2014.
Tournament organizers are forecasting possible showers this afternoon and maybe some wind for Sunday, so we could see someone make a run from back in the pack.
The finale’ for the 2017 U.S. Open is wide open at this point and is setting us up for another first-time winner and hopefully an exciting finish at Erin Hills.