Belgium's Thomas Detry continues hot streak in majors, tied for 2nd entering weekend at US Open

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — Thomas Detry seemed more surprised than anyone to find his name near the top of the leaderboard at the U.S. Open.

No reason for him to be that way.

After missing the cut in three of his first six major championships, and playing those six a combined 34 over par, the 31-year-old from Belgium appears to have figured out golf on its biggest stage.

He followed an opening round 69 with a 3-under 67 on Friday and finished in a three-way tie for second place, one stroke off the lead. That also gave him nine consecutive rounds at par or better in major championships.

“If you would have told me on Wednesday I would have been 5 under in my round today, I wouldn’t have believed it,” said Detry, who tied for 13th in the British Open last July and tied for fourth at the PGA Championship just last month.

“I just played target golf. I was very committed to my targets,” Detry said. “I was hitting a lot of full shots out there. I was trying to get as much elevation as possible. Instead of knocking down 7- or 8-irons, I was trying to hit like, full 9-irons and full wedges to try to get as much spin and as much height as possible. I think I did a pretty good job of it.”

Detry started on the 10th on Friday, where he made a nice par save, and then rattled off three consecutive birdies. He had three more birdies over a five-hole stretch after making the turn, before two late bogeys left him 4 under for the championship.

“I feel like this week, you make a par, you gain on the field, keep moving on. I always seem to do better that way,” said Detry, who has come close on several occasions but has yet to win on the PGA Tour or DP World Tour.

“Yeah,” he said, “the top-four in the PGA was great. It was nice to see that with some of the good golf I was able to compete against the best. I feel like I’m utilizing that confidence quite nicely this week. Hopefully I can keep it going for the weekend.”

The most dangerous man

Matthieu Pavon had been in a slump coming to Pinehurst after missing the cut at the Memorial and the PGA Championship and finishing no better than tied for 49th in his two previous PGA Tour events before that.

But Pavon will enter the weekend tied for fifth place at the US Open at 3-under 137 after a 70 on Friday.

“The most dangerous guy is the one that learns from mistakes, that’s my opinion,” Pavon said. “I failed a lot. Helped me to understand a couple things in my game, in my swing. I finally got my first win in Europe.”

Kuchar makes cut at US Open

Matt Kuchar and Phil Mickelson are the only two players to play in all four U.S. Opens at Pinehurst dating to 1999. Only one will be playing on the weekend.

The 45-year-old Kuchar followed up a first-round 72 with a 71 on Friday and made the cut at 3-over 143. Things didn't go quite as well for the 53-year-old Mickelson, who shot 79-76 and finished 15 over.

Watch out for erratic driving

Xander Schauffele has been playing so well this year that the world’s No. 2 player hasn’t had to worry about his ball-striking.

But Schauffele hasn’t felt comfortable with the driver in his hands at Pinehurst.

On Friday, following a 40-minute wait on the No. 6 tee, he made an uncharacteristic mistake, hitting a tree about 100 yards down the fairway. The ball dropped straight down into the pine straw, leading to a double bogey on the par 5.

“It’s been a bit humbling on that front,” said Schauffele, who still managed to shoot 69 and is 1 under for the tournament. “In the last month, I was hitting my driver really nice. Just trying to get back into good form.”

'Rock Chalk'

Gunnar Broin survived two rounds of qualifying to make the U.S. Open. Now, he has survived to play the weekend.

Broin, who plays collegiately for Kansas, birdied three of his final five holes for a second-round 68, leaving him 3 over for the championship and well under the cut line. The last bridie came at the par-4 eighth, his penultimate hole, when Broin drove into the native area, hit his approach over the green and then holed out from about 35 yards.

The 22-year-old from Shorewood, Minnesota, spent time last weekend working with Jayhawk alum Gary Woodland, the 2019 U.S. Open champion. He reached Pinehurst by surviving a four-for-three playoff in the final round of qualifying.

Missed it by this much

Taylor Pendrith learned how treacherous the greens can be at Pinehurst on Friday. He was 2 under for the tournament before a triple bogey at his final hole, where he twice missed his target by a fraction and watched his ball roll off and down a hill.

“You just have to be super precise with everything,” he said. “The last hole we were trying to land it two yards over the bunker. I missed my spot by two yards. Then my third shot, trying to land it two yards on the green, missed it by two yards."

Pendrith, who started on the back nine, would have shot 67 with a par on the ninth, but instead had to settle for a 70. He was still 1 over for the championship and easily under the cut line.

“It’s a great golf course. It’s a great test. I think it’s set up pretty fairly,” he said. “If you hit good shots, you’ll be rewarded."


AP golf:

Dave Skretta And Steve Reed, The Associated Press