Wisconsinite Steve Stricker in position for weekend berth at Erin Hills

For the first time since the two golfers started playing in majors, the weekend at the U.S. Open will be without a McIlroy and a Day.

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland, Jason Day of Australia, and Justin Rose of England walk across the course during the first round of the 2017 US Open at Erin Hills in Hartford, Wisconsin.

When he birdied his second hole it appeared to be the stress-free golf of his opening 66.

That second-place finish earned him $1 million, moved him into the top 50 and secured his spot in both this year's Masters and U.S. Open.

But with debut host course Erin Hills yielding to scores not typical of a US Open, Thomas couldn't hold the lead for more than an hour as unheralded Englishman Tommy Fleetwood topped the leaderboard at 12 under with three holes to play.

Paul Casey and Rory McIlroy provided quite the contrast here on the second day of the 117 US Open. And at this U.S. Open, he showed how a quick recovery is never too far away.

Around 70 minutes earlier, compatriot Patrick Reed had faced a similar length putt to Thomas on the 18th to shoot eight under but missed his birdie attempt and had to settle for a 65. He registered three straight top-five finishes on golf's biggest stages after that pair of victories but hasn't earned a top-10 result in his last four majors.

No fewer than 44 players ducked under par in the first round, and as the second round unfolded on Friday, the 7,839-yard layout continued to give up birdies freely.

Schauffele double bogeyed the par-3 13th hole.

"[It's] not every day you enjoy a round of golf with an eight on the card, but I'm a pretty happy man", said Casey. "It was a bit of a roller coaster". "But when you're visually looking down the fairway, I think when you're trying to aim at a target at a normal golf course, with normal width fairways, there's some pressure into hitting the fairway because it is a lot narrower than we have out here".

But while Casey was relieved after his gutsy fightback, it was back at the drawing board for McIlroy and Day after their disappointing exits.

With Johnson, McIlroy and Day all missing from the weekend action, all eyes will be on a clustered leaderboard which is dominated by players who have never won a major.

"They want par to be a good score", said English, "and this afternoon it will be". "When I first played in the GMO's, that was the hardest thing". Johnson came in with 73, but that was not almost enough, as he finished at 4-over 148 when 145 or better was needed to advance. With birdies on the four of the last six holes, he shot 71.

Scheffler isn't the only amateur making waves at Erin Hills, with Cameron Champ two shots back of the lead at 5 under.

McIlroy, the No. 2 player in the world, also arrived last Friday having missed the last month to rest a nagging rib injury.

Casey did his part to set the pace, even after his triple bogey. The world No. 14 found himself in trouble when he flew his approach out of rough over the green into the deep fescue and needed five more strokes to get in the cup. That's the lowest differential after 36 holes in the U.S. Open, mainly because until 2012, everyone within 10 shots of the lead made the cut at the U.S. Open.

  • Julie Sanders