The U.S. Open lived up to its reputation in the return to Shinnecock Hills.
Dustin Johnson handled the worst of the weather and wound up as the sole survivor to par at the U.S. Open, taking a four-shot lead into the weekend at Shinnecock Hills. Three holes back were the galleries of Americans heckling Poulter about his almost-lost PGA Tour card, hollering quips about a few near-birdies he'd tapped in for easy par. Sure, he would use that mid-round run to temporarily dig himself out of the 4-over hole, but it didn't last, back-to-back double bogeys eventually pushing him down the well again, 8 over to finish the day.
But in the eyes of the 2016 US Open champion, he barely got out of third gear on Thursday: "I definitely think I played well, but I can definitely play better".
Below is a look at how things stand at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, New York, at the midway point.
"You had to focus on every single shot you hit - putts, everything".
On Thursday, Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson and Jordan Spieth all did some version of The U.S. Open Sigh.
"I didn't putt well today", he said.
"Yes, I felt stupid knifing the first one, and I felt more stupid semi-choking the next one, but I didn't do much better on the next one either", Poulter continued in his deconstruction of the hole he could have called his downfall. Compatriot Tim Wilkinson, at six-over after the first round, had a solid two-over 72 on Saturday (NZ time) to make the cut on the number at eight-over. "It's going to take me probably 2 1/2 to 3 rounds to do it", he said. "But I made 6, and from there, you're just trying to shoot a score to stay in the golf tournament". You know, if I could have putted like I did at the beginning of the year with this ball-striking, that would be ideal.
"Tested", McIlroy said, "but punished if you hit a bad shot". Among those who won't be around for the weekend is Tiger Woods.
Fourteen-time major victor Woods (72) and McIlroy (70) both closed on 10 over while Spieth (71) finished with successive bogeys to miss out by one shot on nine over.
Before this week he had missed the cut only once in nine events in 2018.
McIlroy, Mickelson and Spieth - who have a combined 12 majors between them - looked equal parts dazed and exasperated as they finished up their round.
Spieth missed a 4-foot par putt on No. 10 to start his round, and then tried to get that shot back by playing a bunker shot at the flag on the par-3 11th. In the 39 majors played since that last major win by Woods, 30 different players have walked away champions.
"There's not many birdies", he said. He hung around through the rain and then finished with three birdies over his last five holes.
England's Matthew Fitzpatrick posted a 70 and is tied for 11th at three over, with Scotland's Russell Knox (71) and Calum Hill (69) in a group one shot back at four over.