Friday at Erin Hills was shaping up as a great day for Kyle Thompson when he finished his second round, for a couple of reasons.
Turns out it was just one, however.
A day after shooting a disappointing 4-over par 76, the former South Carolina All-American rebounded with a 2-under 70 and 2-over 146 total. That, he predicted, would be enough to make the first cut of his career in a major.
“It should be,” the Web.com Tour player said. “The pins were tough today; I think the USGA didn’t like how the guys shot such low scores (Thursday). The way they had the pins set up, it was going to be awfully challenging for the afternoon wave.”
Unfortunately for Thompson, scores didn’t inflate enough to get his score in under the cut line. Thus, his 0-for-majors cut record stayed intact, although that includes only the 2012 Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco (when he shot 82-72) and this week. Still, that 70 marked his best Open round.
Regardless of making the cut, Thompson experienced something rare and unexpected. Among a group of Japanese spectators who approached him after his round to offer congratulations (Thompson’s wife, Emmi, is of Japanese descent) was a slim, graying man: Isao Aoki, who finished second at the 1980 Open to Jack Nicklaus and is the greatest player in that country’s history.
“I didn’t know who he was, but that was pretty cool,” said Thompson, who posed for a photo with the Japanese great, along with Emmi and Thompson’s caddie.
Greenville’s Bill Haas has won six times on the PGA Tour, including a $10 million payday for capturing the 2011 Tour Championship and FedEx Cup, but his track record in majors is so-so at best. So Haas was grinning broadly after Friday’s bogey-free, 4-under 68 that lifted him into the top 10 after 36 holes.
“Not many,” he said when asked how many bogey-free rounds in major championships he has had. “It’s hard to do because major courses are so difficult.”
Haas shot even-par 72 on Thursday, and “a couple of three-putts kept me from shooting under par. Today, I drove it nicely; I don’t know that I missed a fairway, didn’t have to save it much out of the rough. You’ve got to be prepared for those things on the weekend, but for two days, I really drove it nice.”