Scheffler grinds to 74 in Round 2, still makes U.S. Open cut

PINEHURST, N.C. -- There was nowhere else for Scottie Scheffler to let out his frustration. So after his tee shot on the 18th hole veered out to the left and landed in the native area, Scheffler took his driver and slammed it to the ground. The sound it made was followed by a surprised silence from the galleries at Pinehurst No. 2.

For Scheffler, it wasn't enough. He grabbed his tee and threw it in disgust.

It was that kind of day for the No. 1 player in the world.

After grinding his way to a round of 1-over 71 on Thursday, Scheffler was hurt by Pinehurst's devilish greens Friday, carding two bogeys, one double bogey and zero birdies (for the first time in 168 rounds) on his way to a 74. He finished right on the cut line at 5-over to sneak into the weekend.

"It was definitely a grind," Scheffler said. "Yesterday I felt like I played really well and got a lot out of my game, which I feel like I've done a good job of this year. Today was kind of the opposite."

Scheffler still gained shots on the field with his stellar approach game, but his short game and putting failed him. Nowhere was that more evident than on the par-5 fifth hole. After a 322-yard drive, Scheffler attempted to attack the left pin on the green in 2 shots. The ball landed on the surface but immediately trickled off the green and into the native area well below the hole. His first attempt at a chip onto the green didn't make it and rolled back to his feet. He played his second well past the flag, and that went over the green. When the putt for bogey missed the hole, all Scheffler could do was chuckle at his troubles.

"That's part of the mystery of the kind of sandy areas. You get down there, and it's kind of luck of the draw whether you have a shot," Scheffler said. "This golf course can be unpredictable at times, and maybe it got the better of me the last couple days ... but it's my job to not hit it in there as much as I did."

Scheffler said after the round that playing a tough course like No. 2 is usually "fun," but he acknowledged that he didn't enjoy struggling to play well enough to score on the difficult setup.

"Playing poor golf is not fun, but I like the challenging aspect of it," he said. "The unpredictability of the native areas maybe got to me a little bit."

Throughout the day, Scheffler's exasperation took on many forms. On the par-3 17th, his shot did not fade toward the pin and instead stayed out left, landing not in the greenside bunker but on top of it. Upon striking it, Scheffler's immediate reaction was to refer to himself in the second person.

"Maybe the worst shot I've ever seen you hit," he said out loud.

The struggles trickled onto the greens, where Scheffler lost over 3 strokes to the field when using his putter. At one point, on the 15th hole, yet another missed putt caused him to toss his putter in the air like a baton and let it fall onto the green.

"I wasn't seeing the break right on the greens," Scheffler said. "Wasn't able to hit it close enough down the stretch to get some good looks."

To say that Scheffler's day was uncharacteristic would be an understatement. He said after his round that fatigue might have affected his preparation for this tournament and that he will take time to assess whether it's worth it to play the week before a major.

At Augusta National, where he has won twice, he did not play the week before.

"It definitely was a bit of a fatigue aspect, but I was ready to play," said Scheffler, who won at a tough Memorial last week. "Maybe this week, stepping up on Thursday I wasn't as prepared as I could have been."

Although Scheffler said after his morning round Friday that he didn't believe 5-over would make the weekend, the cut line ended up moving and putting him within the top 60 and ties requirement, meaning he will be sticking around for two more days.

That's no small thing.

During his dominant run, Scheffler has shown time and time again that he can rise to the top even without his best game. Now that he's made the cut at Pinehurst, it wouldn't be a shock to see him ascend the leaderboard again.

Scheffler may have snuck in, but other notables did not. Tiger Woods finished at 7-over for the tournament. Phil Mickelson finished at 15-over, only 4 spots above last place. And Justin Thomas' 11-over means he's now missed five cuts at majors in the past two years.

Coming off a surprising yet encouraging T-3 finish at the PGA Championship, Viktor Hovland put himself behind the eight ball early in this tournament by shooting an 8-over 78 in the first round. Though he bounced back with a 2-under 68, it was not enough for him to make it to the weekend.

Max Homa also joined Hovland at 6-over alongside 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose.

Rickie Fowler finished at 8-over in what has been a major year to forget after a top-5 finish at last year's U.S. Open. Dustin Johnson, the 2016 U.S. Open winner, also continued to struggle at majors, missing the cut after finishing at 9-over -- his third missed cut in his past four major appearances.