Matt Jones and Marc Leishman have hung tough as Australia’s hopes of US Open glory took a major hit during the second round at Torrey Pines.
Jones ground out an even-par 71 to be 1-over for the championship and six shots behind clubhouse leaders Richard Bland and Russell Henley.
Leishman was one behind Jones after bouncing back from a disappointing finish to his first round with a 1-under 70 on Friday.
Adam Scott was the only other Australian expected to make the cut, but the former world number one was filthy after letting his winning hopes slip with a horror second-round 75.
Playing in his 20th consecutive Open, Scott had equalled his best-ever start at the tournament with a birdie-birdie finish on Thursday, only to rack up two double bogeys in falling eight shots behind Englishman Bland (67).
“I played terrible,” Scott said, despite also having four birdies.
“The course is great. It’s set up really nicely, kind of friendly at the moment.
“It didn’t really dry out yet so there are good scores as we’re seeing on the board.”
Australian number one Cameron Smith also shot 75 and had every right to feel even more annoyed after missing the halfway cut in painful fashion.
Smith made five birdies, including three on his back nine to fight back into contention, only to triple-bogey his third-last hole to undo all his good work.
The 2020 Masters runner-up also had a triple-bogey seven and a double-bogey six in consecutive holes on his front nine but appeared to have fought his way back before disaster struck late.
“The course is great. It’s set up good. If you hit it good you can make plenty of birdies.
“If you make mistakes, you’re working hard out there.”
Wade Ormsby was facing an anxious wait to see if he’d have a weekend tee time following a second-round 74.
At 4-over par, Ormsby was one shot outside the projected cut before the afternoon starters hit off, but with scoring tougher later in the day, the final mark came at 4-over, allowing the Adelaide native to come back for the final two rounds.
Monday qualifier Steve Allan was dead-last in the 156-man field after following up a first-round 80 with a 79 to be 17-over for the championship.
Bland, at age 48, is the oldest 36-hole leader in tournament history.
“As any golf career, you’re going to have peaks and troughs,” Bland said. “Of course you are. But I just think every kind of sportsman, sportswoman, they have that never-die or that never-quit attitude, no matter whether it’s golf or it’s tennis or it’s boxing, whatever it is.”
Bland shares the lead with first-round co-leader Russell Henley, who shot 70 in round two.
Bland was among those with early tee times for the second round, and he took advantage by posting seven birdies. He wanted to keep it simple, moving to 5-under at the midway mark of the tournament.
“If you just keep putting the ball in play, then you’re going to give yourself a chance,” Bland said.
Henley moved to 6-under before finishing with a bogey on the par-5 ninth hole.