BROOKLINE, Mass. — Maybe it was the Celtics’ loss.
Maybe it was a loss from the hometown Red Sox.
Maybe it was the consistent threat of severe weather for most of the afternoon. Whatever it was, the vibes were low at The Country Club for much of the first two rounds of the 122nd U.S. Open.
Until the best players in the world turned up the volume.
Collin Morikawa put a new flat stick in the bag at the Memorial and he reaped the benefits Friday. He poured in five birdies, along with one bogey, for a 4 under 66 effort that could have been one better if he converted a 4-foot eagle bid on the par-5 8th.
During his second round, the Cal product ranked 12th in SG: Putting, gaining 2.3 strokes on the greens.
Jon Rahm, this week’s defending champion, reminded us that he’s not going anywhere. Just look at his approach into 14, for example:
He’s one back of Morikawa’s lead, with this man.
Rory McIlroy hit the ball four times on the par-4 3rd and made a 6. What?
The Northern Irishman found the fescue right of the 3rd green and took three tries to get it out. To his credit, he poured in a 23-footer for double to stay in red figures for the week at 1 under.
He traded a birdie for a bogey at Nos. 5 and 6 before adding a second circle to the card at the par-5 8th thanks to a delicate chip from the back of the green.
He made bogey on 10 thanks to a wayward 3-wood off the tee, but then he turned it on. A great wedge into 11, but missed the putt. A beautiful drive down No. 12 that set up a great approach shot into the middle of the green. Then an eruption.
A monster drive down the par-5 14th that left him just 251 yards into the 616-yard monster. A beautiful lag putt for eagle resulted in a tap-in birdie that got him back to even on the day. And after two solid pars at Nos. 15 and 16, McIlroy spun a wedge to below the hole on 17 and drained the putt. That one got the people going.
Cheers of “Go, Rory!”, and “Boston loves you, Rory!” spread through the gallery as he made his late-afternoon charge.
It’s clear who the fan favorite is this week in Brookline.
On a day that saw several lesser-known players at the top or near the top of the leaderboard, Morikawa, Rahm, McIlroy, and world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler all ended inside the top 10.
With rowdier crowds expected over the weekend, the best players in the world have set up a U.S. Open to get excited about.
So bring the juice this weekend, Bostonians.