Halfway hut at the US Open: Rahm lurks behind surprise leaders

A round-up of the best stats, quotes and social after 36 holes of the year’s third Major at Torrey Pines in California.

Best Bet

Jon Rahm to win at 7/2

If history plays out again - and there's no reason to suggest it won't - the outcome of this US Open has been whittled down to just six players.

The good news for Jon Rahm, the 26-year-old Spaniard seeking his first Major victory, is that he is one of them.

That seems an incredibly small number of potential winners given how bunched the field is: 71 players made it through to the weekend and just nine shots cover them all.

But this isn't uncommon at a championship in which playing catch-up is so hard to do; the numbers from the past 25 years don't lie.

Let's obliterate 65 of the remaining 71 with a killer stat. It reads: 24 of the last 25 winners of the US Open were in the top six after 36 holes.

That leaves the two surprise leaders, England's Richard Bland and American Russell Henley at 5-under, Louis Oosthuizen and Matthew Wolff at 4-under and Bubba Watson and Rahm at 3-under.

And that's it.

So sorry to all those big names still hovering around the lead: Xander Schauffele at 2-under, Bryson DeChambeau, Collin MorikawaJustin Thomas and Brooks Koepka at Evens and Rory McIlroy at 1-over - you have history stacked against you.

Those not in the top six will need to cling to the story of Webb Simpson at Olympic Club - another Californian venue - in 2012. The American was tied 29th and six off the pace after 36 holes there but he remains the isolated outlier when scanning US Open results since 1996.

Tiger Woods was in second place and just one back when famously winning the US Open here at Torrey Pines in 2008 so he forms part of the compelling trend that says you need to be in the very thick of contention at halfway.

Perhaps six should really read four. Bland, who recently became the oldest first-time winner on the European Tour at 48, has never even made the cut in an American Major. Henley has played in 26 and has yet to crack the top 10.

It's a big stretch to think either could win.

That leaves pre-tournament favourite Rahm (7/2), Major winners Oosthuizen (7/1) and Watson (20/1) and last year's US runner-up Wolff (10/1).

There's plenty of pedigree there and the last 25 years should tell punters that there's a huge chance that the winner will come from that quartet.

Here are the best stats, quotes and social from Torrey Pines after 36 holes.

Click here for the leaderboard

Stats and facts

Rahm has gained 8.53 strokes on the field so far. The breakdown is 1.84 Off The Tee, 1.61 on Approach, 2.24 Around The Green and 2.84 Putting. He hit just five fairways in round two.

Bland ranks 2nd in SG: Putting having picked up 6.66 shots on the field after two rounds. Scottie Scheffler (tied 10th) tops the SGP charts with 7.54.

Local man Schauffele has lost strokes on the greens so far. His SGP figure is -0.83 after he missed some short putts in round two.

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DeChambeau ranks 1st for SG: Off The Tee and has putted well too (4.29 SGP). But he's lost 3.31 strokes Around The Green so needs to sharpen up his short game.

Oosthuizen has yet to win on US soil. His only PGA TOUR victory is the 2010 Open Championship.

With a 2-under 69 in round two, Phil Mickelson (T30, +2) moved to solo-second for most rounds in the 60s in US Open history with 22; Jack Nicklaus leads the category with 29 and Tiger now trails Mickelson with 21.

The scoring average in round two (73.681) was almost identical to round one (73.718).

Quotes

Here's what some of the leading players said after Friday's play

Jon Rahm after his 1-under 70

"Feeling confident. Two very different rounds yesterday and today. I feel like yesterday I hit it really, really well, hit a lot of fairways. Just made a couple of mistakes going into the greens that cost me a few bogeys, a few more than I would have liked.

"Today it was the opposite. Took me a while to get going, didn't hit my second fairway until the 13th hole, I believe, and I just had to survive. I've got to say, that stretch of putts on 10, 11, 12 was key. Things could have taken a turn for the worse, and I was able to save some great three pars in a row.

"Hopefully, I can just swing it like I did on the last four holes because I hit some beautiful shots and keep it going on the weekend."

How the betting looked pre-tournament:

Richard Bland on immediately taking to Torrey

"I was coming off a couple of good results, a win and a third in Europe. I was feeling pretty good about my game. I've been driving the ball well for five, six weeks now, which is the cornerstone if you're going to put a fight up for a US Open.

"When I saw this place on Monday, I kind of -- yeah, it kind of set up to my eye. There's not too many sort of doglegs. It's all there just straight in front of me, and that's the kind of golf course I like. There's nothing kind of jumping out and grabbing you or anything like that. When I saw the course Monday, yeah, you know what, I thought, I can play around here."

Russell Henley on being in new territory

"I've never been in this position before in a Major. Just feel like I'm going to learn something no matter what happens.

"It feels very fair out there. It feels like you just have to put the ball on the correct side of the hole. So far it's been really fair. It's just been really difficult."

Matthew Wolff on being in contention despite showing no form in recent months

"Very surprised. I know that I've played good golf in the past, but the low time that I had was pretty tough. My confidence was shot. I'd say I came here with very, very -- I'd say no expectations. I'd say my expectations coming here were to enjoy it and be happy, and I didn't even know if I was going to be able to do that. Thankfully, I am, as well as playing well.

"It's a great position I'm in. I'm contending at the US Open, and I'm very happy right now and enjoying it, but I know there's going to be times that I'm not enjoying it as much or not playing as well. For those times, that's what I'm trying to work for and work towards and kind of prepare before it happens."

Louis Oosthuizen on the difference in his two rounds (67 and 71)

"It was short irons really. Missing a lot of greens with 9-irons, wedges in my hand. So I need to do a bit of work on that. Other than that, drove it nicely, felt like I'm putting nicely, and kept it all together today.

"If you're out of position, you need to just minimize the score, and I did that pretty good today. This golf course, there's a lot of things that can go sideways quickly. So you need to keep focus and play well, and be calm."

Bubba Watson on the weekend challenge

"Yeah, I'm looking forward to it. Whatever position I'm in, I made the cut, so that's a bonus for me. A golf course that I've been successful around a few times, top ten a few times, so looking forward to the challenge kind of. Should be fun."

Xander Schauffele on being content with his day

"It was kind of a fun start. Missed a few short ones and hit it great. I think I could have capitalized a little bit throughout the round with a few putts, but it's late in the day, afternoon tee time on poa annua, you can never expect too much. So in good position."

Social

Hovland smiles through his eye problem, JT's bunker brilliance, Matt Wolff makes a charge, Harman holes out and Bland's hot putter

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JT drains one

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Wolff roars

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Harman chips in

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Red-hot Richard

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READ MORE: Rahm ready to become a Major Man

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