2022 U.S. Open leaderboard breakdown: Collin Morikawa, Jon Rahm soar to the top as Rory McIlroy holds

History was always going to be made this week in Brookline, Massachusetts. That was inevitable. However, the Boston faithful could not have envisioned a better leaderboard heading into the weekend at the 2022 U.S. Open. While defending champion Jon Rahm and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy are firmly in contention sitting just one stroke off the lead, it is the name at the top which has the potential to produce a truly jaw-dropping moment come Sunday.

That name belongs to Collin Morikawa, who fired a 4-under 66 on Friday to reach 5 under for the championship and command the co-lead alongside Joel Dahmen. The 25-year-old Morikawa has seemingly been on television for the last decade, but in reality, this week's U.S. Open marks only the 11th major championship appearance of his career.

In his 10 prior such starts, Morikawa captured startling milestones including a win in his PGA Championship debut and another in his Open Championship debut last summer at Royal St. George's. A once-in-a-lifetime start to a career can be made even more memorable with a victory at The Country Club.

Three major wins in 11 starts would be unprecedented given the talent depth in the game of golf -- for reference: Jordan Spieth needed 19 outings to get his three -- and the ability to win those majors in three completely different settings would make it all the more impressive feat. Make no mistake, though: Morikawa is in for a battle over the final 36 holes with names like McIlroy, Rahm and world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler all within shouting distance. 

While this instance would not be like his last two triumphs as Morikawa has yet to command a 36-hole lead in his major career -- add that to his list of accomplishments -- and some may continue to doubt his putting or his inexplicable lack of confidence in his iron play, history suggests Morikawa will be just fine.

T1. Collin Morikawa and Joel Dahmen (-5): Last year, Morikawa couldn't figure out the turf in Scotland. He went on to win The Open Championship. This year, he is unable to hit his patented fade with his irons. Lo and behold, he is right in the mix for his third major title. Not only would he continue his incredible pace on golf's biggest stage, but with a win, Morikawa would be a Masters victory away from completing the career grand slam. While the irons have been good, not great, he has made his mark with his performance on the greens. He had lost strokes with his putter in every start since the Masters, and so far this week at The Country Club, he has gained more than three strokes with the flat stick.

T3. Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy, Aaron Wise, Hayden Buckley and Beau Hossler (-4): Rahm played alongside Morikawa the first two days and was probably overshadowed by him. Still, the defending champion is in an enviable position and has a fantastic chance to follow in the footsteps of Brooks Koepka by winning back-to-back U.S. Opens. It is no surprise that Rahm is leading the field in strokes gained off the tee as he is the best in the world in that department by a considerable margin; however, the improvement he has shown around the green this week has the potential to propel him to another major triumph.

T8. Scottie Scheffler, Nick Hardy, Matthew NeSmith, Patrick Rodgers and Brian Harman (-3): Carrying the momentum of his birdie-birdie finish from Thursday, Scheffler sure looked like the world No. 1 on Friday. While it did not begin without a hitch, the Texan put together the best approach performance of his career from a strokes gained perspective. Ultimately signing for a 3-under 67, Scheffler will be in the conversation come the back nine on Sunday as long as his short game is able to mirror his baseline statistical output the rest of the way. He currently ranks first in strokes gained approach, third in strokes gained tee to green and sixth in strokes gained off the tee, and he's outside the top 80 both on and around the green.

Rick Gehman is joined by Kyle Porter and Greg DuCharme to recap Friday's action at The Country Club. Follow & listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

T13. Sam Burns, Matt Fitzpatrick, Adam Hadwin and Beau Hossler (-2): Burns was one of three players to sign for a 67 in the morning wave, and the next logical step in his career progression is weekend contention in a major championship. He can check that off the list as he is firmly in the mix of this championship and should love his chances moving forward. A three-time winner on the PGA Tour this season, a victory this week would pull him alongside his good friend Scheffler on the yearly total. The LSU product has only hit 15 fairways through the first two rounds, so he will likely need to improve in this department in order to set up more scoring opportunities. 

T16. Xander Schauffele, Will Zalatoris, Davis Riley and four others (-1): His U.S. Open resume is fantastic on paper, but this presents the best opportunity to date for Schauffele. In his five prior top-10 finishes, he had yet to truly contend; however, with 36 holes remaining, he is only four strokes off the pace. The names that he will need to leapfrog are some of the biggest in the game, but if there was ever a single instance in which he could shed the doubt and reputation surrounding his name, it is this week.

T24. Brooks Koepka, Hideki Matsuyama, Brandon Matthews and four others (E): Really impressive bounce back round for the two-time U.S. Open champion as he now has rounds of 73-67 under his belt. Koepka was his typical self with the media after his second round as the chip on his shoulder has somehow grown ten-fold. Only four men have beaten him in his last four U.S. Open appearances and he has his work cut out for him if he doesn't want to add substantially to that total. An improvement around the green would be huge given it is the only area of his game which has held him back through 36 holes.

T31. Justin Thomas, Dustin Johnson, Joaquin Niemann and six others (+1): I can only imagine how frustrated Thomas is after opening his second round with a double bogey and ultimately signing for a 2-over 72. At The Players Championship, PGA Championship and now the U.S. Open, the two-time major winner has received the short end of the stick when it comes to the weather bias in some of the biggest events of the season. He is only six strokes off the lead, and given the firepower in his arsenal, he is still in this thing, although there is now little room for mistake. 

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June 17, 2022, 11:43 PM
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Dahmen joins the lead, Rory wraps up at 4 under

Joel Dahmen has reached 5 under and has tied Collin Morikawa at the top. Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy finished in a flurry and battled to a round of 1 under. For the second consecutive major, McIlroy is right there heading into the weekend.

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June 17, 2022, 10:40 PM
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June 17, 2022, 10:12 PM
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Morikawa, Rahm head into weekend in perfect position

Morikawa fired a 4-under 66 for the low round of the day and commands the solo lead at 5 under as of now. One stroke back is his playing competitor Jon Rahm who fired a 3-under 67 and is 4 under for the championship. What a treat this championship has been thus far.

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June 17, 2022, 10:03 PM
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June 17, 2022, 9:42 PM
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Buckley gets in at 4 under

A tremendous approach shot into his final hole was good enough to push Hayden Buckley into a share of the lead. Signing for rounds of 68-68, the Mizzou product has been terrific through 36 holes and adds to the number of surprises currently on the leaderboard.

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June 17, 2022, 9:17 PM
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Wave advantage proving to be substantial

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Brian Harman now at 4 under, only one back of co-leaders

Many forget Harman was the 54-hole leader at the 2017 U.S. Open at Erin Hills. The longest setup in championship history, The Country Club is much more fitting given the Georgia product's statistical profiled. Through 28 holes, Harman has only made one bogey as he has effectively avoided the trouble.

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Morikawa's putter coming to life

I don't know how he does it, but come major championship time, Morikawa finds his putting stroke. Gaining nearly five strokes on the greens through 28 holes, if he continues this performance, he will be extremely tough to beat. For reference, the last time he was positive in strokes gained putting was in early April at The Masters.

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Morikawa in a share of the lead after 3-under 32

The short game continues to impress for the two-time major champion. Playing the back nine of The Country Club in 3 under, Morikawa is now at 4 under and in a tie at the top with David Lingmerth, Joel Dahmen and Callum Tarren. There is a chance Morikawa can stretch this out to 7 under and stake his claim on this championship with a strong final nine performance.

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Callum Tarren and David Lingmerth looking rock steady...for now

You have to give them credit, the two big surprises currently in a tie for first at 4 under look extremely comfortable. Tarren has a realistic birdie opportunity on the par-3 11th to push ahead of Lingmerth and maybe more importantly, two clear of Rahm, Morikawa, Scheffler and others.

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Big names beginning to bunch behind leaders

A strong start from Jon Rahm and Collin Morikawa have seen the two former major winners move into a tie for third at 3 under and only one stroke behind Joel Dahmen and Callum Tarren. They join world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler and between the three of them possess three of the last four major championships.

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Rory makes important double bogey

After a wayward tee shot that had him in the thick greenside rough on No. 3, Rory McIlroy hacked -- twice!! -- without success in trying to get onto the green. He was able to finally make contact the next shot and turned that into a key double bogey save with a lengthy putt. McIlroy has been putting it well all week, but only giving back two shots there might've been his most important one all week. 

June 17, 2022, 6:15 PM
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Morikawa, Rahm, Spieth all in red figures early

The three-headed monster is 1 under through their first three holes. Morikawa and Rahm now sit at 2 under and only three behind Callum Tarren who has reached 5 under. Meanwhile, Spieth is up to 1 over and continues to strike his irons extremely well.

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