Three more birdies through the turn brought Fowler to 6-under for the day and one more on the par-5 seventh (Fowler began on No. 10) sealed the deal. Willett, who pulled out before the start of his second round, was heading towards the Erin Hills exit anyway after slumping to an opening round nine-over 81. "So I did a really good job of staying present, staying focused on the next shot".
First-round leader Rickie Fowler meanwhile, widely regarded as one of the most talented players not to have won a major, will look to recover from his disappointing second-round display on Friday.
While McIlroy and former world number one Jason Day missed the cut, amateur Cameron Champ - who turned 22 on Thursday - and Xander Schauffele were unlikely contenders on five under par, alongside Players Championship victor Si Woo Kim.
Chez Reavie had an incredible round of 65, but he was not the only person to shoot that score with Hideki Matsuyama showing his class and the world number four is just two shots back now - the Japanese player was tipped by the GM tipster before the tournament.
KEY STATISTIC: The cut, at 1 over, tied a U.S. Open record set in 1990 at Medinah.
Dustin Johnson was right on the cut line with eight holes to play.
Rory Mcilroy, of Ireland, makes his way to the 12th hole during the.
But under sunny skies on Thursday, Erin Hills looked more friend than foe with 44 golfers breaking par to set a record for the opening round of a U.S. Open.
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Unfortunately, none of the three will be around this weekend for the 117th U.S. Open (writes Jeff Babineau - Golfweek). He birdied five-straight holes, starting with the 17th after teeing off on the 10th, but that run only served to negate a triple bogey on 14 as well as bogeys on 12 and 15 to card a one-under 71. Players noticed firmer greens that were allowing putts to race past the hole. "Then clawed all the way back and actually picked up one more to the good by the time we were finished". "It's pretty simple, I just didn't get it in the hole fast enough".
Day added a 75 to his first-round 79, which included two triple-bogeys.
On Friday, with Erin Hills beginning to firm up following early week rainstorms, the USGA chose to tuck some of the pins into tight spots after a fairly uncharacteristic U.S. Open opening round. The Oklahoma State alum was on point from the start, making birdies on three of his first five holes to jump out to an early lead.
Stricker couldn't help but break into a wide smile when he made a 30-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole to get to 4 under for the day.
That victory was redemption after 2015 when, on the bumpy, much-criticized greens at Chambers Bay, he three-putted from 8 feet on the final hole to give away the win, then the tie.
Casey did not lose faith in his game plan and that paid off for the world No.14. "You never know what one shot's going to count for".
Unfortunately for the four-time major victor he looked on course to be doing precisely that on Friday afternoon after struggling to an opening 78, which featured an eagle on the second, four bogeys and double bogeys on the 15th and 17th.
His problems deepened at the par-four 12th, when his second shot rolled off the back of the green. There no longer is a 10-shot rule that would allow anyone within 10 shots of the lead to make the cut.