After a first round that could easily be forgotten for his mundane play, Scottie Scheffler vaulted to near the top of the leaderboard at the 2022 U.S. Open on Friday with a 3-under 67 that put him alongside many of Thursday's leaders. Though it may not be an eye-popping score, Scheffler stood on the seventh tee at 2 over for the championship and in serious jeopardy of missing a second consecutive cut in a major championship before making a massive run.
With the back nine playing as the more difficult side at The Country Club, Scheffler's next nine holes showed us exactly why he is the No. 1 golfer in the Official World Golf Rankings. Kicking off this stretch with a birdie on the par-5 eighth -- a hole of which competitors must take advantage -- Scheffler turned to 1 over. Able to make three pars in a row to kick off the troublesome opening stretch of the back nine, the 2022 Masters champion then found a different gear. With three par-breakers in his next four holes, he calmly pitched in for eagle on the par-5 14th to reach 2 under for the championship.
When a birdie on the par-3 16th found the bottom of the cup, the top player in the game had briefly successfully made his way to the top of the leaderboard. All in all in, it was a 67 that tied for the low effort of the morning wave with playing competitor Brooks Koepka and good friend Sam Burns.
"I just stayed really patient," said Scheffler. "I was hitting it good pretty much most of the day. Two silly bogeys early in the round, but outside of that, I hit it really good. I was in position most of the day. If a few more putts would have fallen in versus around the edge, it would have been a really special day. But 3 under was a good score for me, especially being 2 over through six."
Just how good was Scheffler's ball-striking on Friday? Well, he posted nearly 5.3 strokes gained approach, more than a stroke better than his performance at the 2020 Northern Trust when he fired a 59.
With 36 holes under his belt, Scheffler will now hope to be near the top of the leaderboard entering Moving Day as Rory McIlroy and others are just beginning their rounds in the afternoon.