Ludvig Åberg, playing in his first U.S. Open, leads after two rounds

No experience? No problem, as Ludvig Åberg takes control of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst

PINEHURST, N.C. — The U.S. Open is now in the hands of a player who's never teed it up on the weekend in a U.S. Open.

Ludvig Åberg stands atop the leaderboard at the U.S. Open, despite the fact that this is his first U.S. Open. Moreover, he had never even played in a major at all before this year. And yet here he is, taming — or at least surviving — a course that chewed up everyone from Scottie Scheffler to Brooks Koepka to Tiger Woods.

"A U.S. Open is supposed to be hard. It's supposed to be tricky, and it's supposed to challenge any aspect of your game. And I feel like it's really doing that," Åberg said after his round. "But super fortunate with the way that things have turned out over the last couple days, and hopefully we'll be able to keep it up."

"The guy is like a machine, from what I saw," Tony Finau said of Åberg, who he played with Thursday and Friday. "He hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. He sure makes it look pretty easy."

Thursday night leaders, Patrick Cantlay and Rory McIlroy, struggled but are still very much within striking distance. Matthieu Pavon kept pace with Åberg, even holding a share of the lead for much of the afternoon. Bryson DeChambeau rode an up-and-down -1 round to end at -4. Thomas Detry and Finau also lurk amid the top seven, and only DeChambeau and McIlroy have major wins among them all.

A total of 14 players are within a shot of Åberg heading into the weekend — a traffic jam the USGA will be more than happy to maintain into the weekend.

The best moment of Friday afternoon happened nowhere near the top of the leaderboard. Francesco Molinari, who had missed the cut in eight of his last 10 majors, drained a hole-in-one on his final hole of the day to make the cut on the number:

So far, Pinehurst hasn't really shown its teeth to the top of the leaderboard. But with scorching temperatures and clear skies in the forecast, the course might — might — get much tougher to manage.

"This golf course is going to play very challenging over the weekend, especially with the forecast that we have," Cantlay said. "So I think being smart and being patient, it's inevitable there's going to be some mistakes made, but that's just part of playing a U.S. Open."

At this point, it's debatable who's in better shape to handle that kind of carnage — players who have been here before, or a player who doesn't know what he should fear.