Shinnecock Hills is one of the toughest challenges in golf.
"I was a little bit out of position, but I'm just trying to get it back in play and then give myself an easy look at par", said Johnson, who carded just one bogey Friday. Considering that he's the best player on the planet today, that's not too big of a stretch.
Sixty-seven players made the cut, which fell at eight-over 148. Phil Mickelson, the emotional favorite, is tied for 35th heading into Moving Day. Reigning Masters champion Patrick Reed and Jim Furyk, the current Ryder Cup captain who received a special exemption into the field, are among those at 6-over and still very much in the tournament. Rickie Fowler (T-9), Justin Thomas (T-14), and Justin Rose (T-4) are all technically in contention as well. I just have not made any putts, and I haven't made those key ones to keep the momentum going, or if I have any positive momentum, I miss a putt and derail it. "You just can't fake it at a major championship".
Having failed to properly finish each of his first two rounds at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, the Lehi resident played brilliantly on the back nine Saturday.
The overnight joint leader jumped clear with an assured three-under-par 67 on a day when the tournament lost considerable star wattage as Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods missed the cut. So is Sergio Garcia, still ranked No. 15 in the world despite months of poor play.
He fully believes he still can add to his once-unlimited total of 14 major championships, and that he still, therefore, can put a tidy and happy ending on the fall-from-grace tale he has been chasing now for more than a decade.
The U.S. Open often has been the site of controversial course conditions, including Shinnecock, where in 2004 the USGA admitted that it erred in its treatment of the course prior to the final round, as several greens were deemed to be unfair due a lack of watering. "The first 27 holes for me were obviously what did it". The whole family went to Idaho the following day, and he says Johnson played golf with them for 20 straight days. "He's hitting the ball so flush and so solid", Woods said.
"You don't win major championships slapping it around the place and missing putts".
It's not like none of these guys had a shot, though.More news: No 'Party Like A Russian' for Robbie Williams
He opened the tournament with a triple bogey there on Thursday, and took double bogey there on Friday to open his second nine holes, after playing his first nine in even par.
Poulter had been within one shot of the world number one ahead of the final two holes, but he endured a triple bogey at the 17th followed by a bogey at the last to drop down to one over par.
Johnson has 13 top 10 finishes at majors during his career, and here's a breakdown of those finishes. Not by any reasonable standard.
"I felt like (this round) was really solid in some tough conditions", Johnson said. "But he's hitting right through it".
Now, is the course punitive?
He said he's thought about doing it before, but this was the first time it made sense and that he didn't intend to make a mockery of the game. It all comes down to execution.
Poulter will be paired with defending champion American Brooks Koepka when he tees off on Saturday. The most well-rounded, balanced golfer is typically the one who comes out on top at these setups.
It's his fifth missed cut in the big ones since he captured his fourth Major title at Valhalla almost four years ago. On to the next one.