Rollercoaster Rickie top of bunched US Open leaderboard

Ronan MacNamara

Rickie Fowler tees off on the 17th hole during the second round of the 2023 U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club in Los Angeles, Calif. on Friday, June 16, 2023. (Kathryn Riley/USGA)

Rickie Fowler equalled Martin Kaymer’s 36-hole scoring record in a US Open after a two-under 68 ensured he will take a one shot lead into the weekend.

Fowler (-10) has rolled in a whopping 18 birdies at LA Country Club which is a new record and the most in US Open history after two rounds but while he has shattered records over the first two days he hasn’t been able to pull away from the field with eight players within five shots of him, including Rory McIlroy who picked up late birdies to move to within two.

Fowler carded just four pars in a captivating round of golf as well as eight birdies and four bogeys, only separating himself from overnight co-leader Xander Schauffele after he carded three bogeys in a row after playing his opening 24 holes bogey free.


“I felt pretty good today. I felt like kind of the only area I gave away some shots, some long-range putts,” explained Fowler who was second to Kaymer in 2014.

“Felt like the greens might have been a little slower, and then there was areas where they were putting pins in a little bit more slope or pitch, so going up some pretty steep areas so it was tough to get yourself to hit it hard enough, and then you obviously don’t want to blow it by and have something that’s downhill, a slider.

“We’ll try and clean some of that up. Golf course wise it started to firm up. Greens started to firm up a little bit. Kind of the biggest difference, pins were on some more slope than yesterday, tucked a little bit more. Par-3s were back, and then the wind was blowing a bit more than what we had yesterday.

“Still a solid test. The birdies are out there if you put yourself in the right position, but as you can see, bogeys are very easy to make.”

The LA fans chanted Fowler’s names as he strolled up 18, a scenario he thought he wouldn’t encounter again after slumping outside the top 160 in the world rankings and having missed the last two US Opens.

Now ranked 45th in the world, Fowler’s redemption journey continues.

“I sure hope everyone can relate to struggles because everyone deals with them. No one’s perfect. I think you’d be lying if you haven’t been through a tough time, especially if you play golf.

“No, it was great being able to walk up 18, especially after hitting a good drive and hitting it on the green. Didn’t have a whole lot to worry about.

“I mean, a number of people helped me. From JT, Jordan, Duf, Smylie, who was walking around with us all day today. My coach that I was working with until I went to Butch. John Tillery. Joe, who had been on the bag for me forever.

“My wife, my little one, even though she can’t say a whole lot. Family and those people that are close to me. Knowing that everything other than golf was great, it was tough because golf was kind of the only thing that was not in place according to everything else.

“Yeah, it was a grind, but to be back in here talking to you guys for a couple days, it feels great. This is where I want to be. It’s nice to be back in here.”

Fowler leads by one from Wells Fargo champion Wyndham Clark while McIlroy and Schauffele share third on -8.

US Open specialist Harrish English is solo fifth on seven-under-par while 2016 champion Dustin Johnson recovered from a quadruple bogey eight on the 2nd to post a level-par 70 and remain on six-under-par alongside Aussie star Min Woo Lee.

World number one Scottie Scheffler continues to remain in the mix on five-under alongside Sam Bennett.

Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry both made the cut on one and two-over respectively while Seamus Power and Matthew McClean bowed out at the halfway point.

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