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Halfway check-in at CIMB Classic: Garrigus at -14

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Back-to-back rounds of 64 have earned Robert Garrigus a two-shot lead at 14-under at the halfway mark of the CIMB Classic, but 18 players still stand within seven-strokes of Garrigus on a course very susceptible to low scores.

The first round yielded a stroke average of 68.76, while wet conditions allowed ball-in-hand and an even lower scoring average of 68.43 in the second round. Tiger Woods, who has carded rounds of 66 and 67, is just five shots back and is looking for a big weekend in Malaysia — a country he returns to for the first time since winning both the individual and team titles at the 1999 World Cup.

“The golf course can be had, especially if we have ball in hand like we did today,” Woods said after Round 2.

Woods has given back four shots through two rounds, with both of Friday’s bogeys coming after wild tee shots to the right on Nos. 4 and 12. However, Woods has capitalized on the Mines Resort’s easiest holes, birdieing all three par-5s and the drivable par-4 15th each of the first two days.

While Woods is certainly in contention at this point, he’ll have to step on it through the weekend, especially if Garrigus gets to the number he’s shooting for.

“I’m going to try to get to 30 (under) if I can,” Garrigus said after Round 2. “I just need to do it on the weekend when it counts.”

Meanwhile, Jbe’ Kruger sits two strokes behind Garrigus, as he backed up an opening-round 66 with a 7-under 64. Kruger’s round may not have been the lowest of day two – -fellow South African Trevor Immelman shot an 8-under 63 to grab a share of 11th place at 7-under — but it had to be the most impressive, as he played with Woods for the first time.

In a situation where many have crumbled through the years, Kruger’s play bested the World No. 2 by three shots, making eight birdies to just one bogey. Kruger gained entry to the CIMB Classic by ranking inside the top 10 of the Asian Tour’s Order of Merit. In February, he won the Avantha Masters, an event sanctioned by both the European Tour and Asian Tour.

“I think playing with him (Woods) definitely made me concentrate a bit harder,” Kruger stated. “That is the one thing I’ve been lacking the last couple of months, so I think I want to play with him everyday.”

First-round leader Troy Matteson, who carded an 8-under 63 on Thursday, shot 2-under 69 in round two and joins Australian Greg Chalmers tied for third at 10-under for the tournament.

Brendon de Jonge and Kevin Na are tied for fifth with Woods at 9-under through 36 holes, while 2010 champion Ben Crane, 2011 runner-up Jeff Overton and Brian Harman all sit in a tie for eighth at 8-under.

Eight players accompany Immelman at 7-under in a tie for 11th, including defending champion Bo Van Pelt and his fellow Americans Bill Haas, Chris Kirk, Kevin Stadler, Pat Perez and Tom Gillis. Charlie Wi, a late replacement for Rickie Fowler, and Martin Laird are also at 7-under, seven back of Garrigus.

Meanwhile, Asian Tour and Malaysian qualifiers have shown the ability to post scores, but may not have the consistency to contend this week.

Asian Tour player Gaganjeet Bhullar found himself just two shots back following his opening round 65, but carded a 1-over 72 on Thursday to lose pace. Malaysian qualifier Danny Chia posted a quality round of 66 on day one, but fell well back after a second-round 75.

Through two rounds, Thaworn Wiratchant and  hold the best standing of their contingent, at 5-under for the tournament and tied for 23rd. Wiratchant, who is in his ninth-straight week of competition, rallied Friday with a 7-under 65, bouncing back after opening the event with a 2-over 72. 25-year-old Lahiri carded a bogey-free second round of 5-under 66, after an even-par opening round.

Garrigus has reached 14-under for the tournament thanks to an eagle and 15 birdies to just three bogeys. The 35-year-old has had a strong 2012 PGA Tour season, earning seven top-10 finishes, two of which came in the FedEx Cup playoffs.

“If I keep putting like this on the weekend, its going to be hard to catch me,” Garrigus said. “I do have a very high confidence level right now. I feel like I can beat anybody, doesn’t matter who I’m playing.”

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5 things we learned on Sunday of the 2018 U.S. Open

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Opportunity knocked for so many golfers, yet it was the 2017 champion who seized the moment when it was his. Brooks Koepka fired his second sub-par round of the week on Sunday to separate from playing partner Dustin Johnson, and enter the pantheon of multiple major champions. He became the 7th player to defend his title, joining old-school legends like Willie Anderson and John McDermott, mid-century icons like Ralph Guldahl and Ben Hogan, and the last man to accomplish the feat, Curtis Strange. With that introduction, let’s move to the main event, the 5 things we learned on Sunday at Shinnecock Hills.

5) The USGA gave golf a chance

True to its word, the USGA pulled out all the stops in the wee hours of Sunday morn. The course set-up team ensured that enough water was distributed to putting surfaces, that worthy shots would not be punished. Hole locations were assessed and confirmed, also ensuring that multiple opportunities for success were available. As a result, 15 golfers turned in scores under par of 70, highlighted by Tommy Fleetwood’s 7-under stunner. Although many fans, writers and players were quick to assault the organizers for losing control of the course, the USGA reminded us that it always had control of the conditions at Shinny, and that its only mistake was to soar too close to the sun.

4) Captain America ran out of gas

If Patrick Reed had been able to sign his card on the 9th tee, when he stood 5-under on the day and 1-over for the tournament, he would be in a playoff with the eventual champion as I type. Unfortunate for this year’s Masters champion was that 10 holes remained. Reed promptly bogeyed the 9th, added 3 more bogeys on the inward half, and summoned just one birdie toward the end. His fourth-place finish was his best in a U.S. Open, but knowing that victory was in the cards will sting for a while.

3) DJ and Finau gave it a run

Where to begin? How about this: DJ had four bogeys on Sunday. He totaled that many on Thursday-Friday combined. He had birdies, too, but couldn’t find the game that possessed him over the opening 36 holes. Oddly enough, this type of experience won’t be a setback for the 2016 champion. After all, he came back from a career-killer in 2015, when he 3-whacked his way out of a playoff with Jordan Spieth at Chambers Bay. As for Milton Pouhau Finau, aka Tony, the Utah native had never before been in the final group on any day of a major professional championship. He acquitted himself well, standing even on the day and 3-over for T2 at the 18th tee. Knowing that he needed eagle for a playoff might have taken the final winds from his sails, and he limped home with double bogey and solo third. Looking ahead to the final August playing of the PGA Championship, Bellerive near St. Louis might just be his type of course.

2) Tom Terrific nearly made his own U.S. Open history

I’ll write this cautiously, as I’m certain I would have intimated in the 1980s and 90s that Colin Montgomerie and Lee Westwood would have been major champions by now. Tommy Fleetwood ought to win one of these things soon. His record-tying 63 was a short putt away from a record-breaking 62. Eight birdies against a single bogey was the stuff of legend, and if only he had trusted that final putt a bit higher on the break … that’s not fair. Fleetwood right now is the fellow to watch at Carnoustie next month. Bet a few quid or bob or whatever on the Southport native, as he should contend for the title.

1) Brooks cooks up a winning broth

It’s easy to look back and see all the great shots that the defending champion hit over the four days of the 2018 U.S. Open, shots that would win him his second consecutive trophy. Remember that 60-feet bomb to save par on Saturday? Shades of Costantino Rocca. How about the approach shots to within mere feet that earned him 5 birdies on Sunday, including a competition-killer on 16? Koepka was the guy we thought Dustin Johnson would be. Perhaps it was the time off for wrist rehabilitation early this season that gave him the burning desire to win. Out for nearly 4 months, Koepka had plenty of time to ponder what he achieved last June in Wisconsin, and what might lay ahead for him. The begged question is, does the most recent, two-time major winner have the game to acquire more of the game’s cherished trophies?

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

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Wednesday’s Photos from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills

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GolfWRX is live from the 2018 U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club (par 70; 7,440 yards) in Southhampton, New York. The U.S. Open returns to Shinnecock for the first time since 2004 when Retief Goosen won (he failed to qualify for the 2018 event).

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Phil Mickelson, who has two top-5 finishes at Shinnecock Hills, will seek to fill out his career Grand Slam with a win this week. Also, it’s Tiger Woods’ 10-year anniversary of winning the legendary 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines — that was his most recent major championship victory.

Also in the field are headliners Dustin Johnson (now ranked No. 1 in the Official World Golf Rankings), Justin Thomas (No. 2), Justin Rose (No. 3), Jon Rahm (No. 4) and Jordan Spieth (No. 5).

Brooks Koepka (No. 9) is the defending champion; he won last year by four shots for his first and only major so far in his career.

Check out our photos from Shinnecock Hills below!

Wednesday’s Galleries

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Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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Spotted at Shinnecock: #RVLife, superb staff bags, stellar stampings

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We’re on the famed grounds of Shinnecock Hills Golf Club for the second major of the year. With the U.S. Open returned to such a visually and historically rich venue, it may be a bit tough to focus on equipment.

Nevertheless, we spotted some cool stuff, Tuesday, as the players move ever closer to the second major of th eyear.

Let’s get to the photos.

#RVLife propronent, Jason Day’s putter cover is incredible.

Michael Greller displays an essential caddie skill…

Face of Tiger’s wedge. Do these look like standard TaylorMade MG grooves to you?

Greatest side panel on a bag ever?

Who isn’t happy to see “Woods” on USGA tournament signage?

Shintaro Ban’s unique dot stamping is, well, money.

A look at the Bridgestone U.S. Open staff bag and headcovers.

Kenny Perry: Still gaming R7 irons.

Scott Gregory with some solid wedge stamping.

What is this lead taped and war torn beauty?

All our photos from Tuesday

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about the photos in our forums

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