Ian Poulter (Getty Images)
Ryder Cup hero Ian Poulter remained bullish about his chances of securing a first Major after completing his second round as the weather-delayed US Open Championship resumed at Merion.
just one shot off the lead and facing a birdie putt on the 15th green when play was suspended due to darkness shortly before 8:30pm on Friday evening, a knock-on effect of the four and a quarter hours' play lost to bad weather on Thursday.
He had to settle for a par when play resumed at 7:15am on Saturday morning and then bogeyed the 16th after finding a fairway bunker off the tee and failing to get up and down from just short of the green.
A superb long putt on the 17th, where his tee shot to the par three had span
back off the front of the green, helped Poulter save par there, but he bogeyed the 18th to complete a second consecutive 71.
At two over par, the 37 year old was three shots off the lead held by Phil Mickelson and Billy Horschel - the only two players under par - with Luke Donald, Justin Rose and Steve Stricker a shot behind.
“You would love to have got
finished last night but you are coming
out on fresh greens this morning and I got a little unlucky on 16,” said Poulter. “I hit it into that fairway bunker and had a really bad lie. I had a massive lump of sand behind my ball and you don’t want to be short coming out of that bunker with that canyon. I tried to almost thin
it, it lands just on the green and dribbles off and it leaves me a nightmare chip shot. I make bogey then played a lovely shot into
17 and made a two putt par.
“I think 18 is probably the hardest hole in golf right now. I played a lovely three wood and three iron and it ran just off the back edge of the green and I didn’t get up and down. So, albeit it with two bogeys in the last three holes to finish round two, I’m right there, I’m right in position and let’s look forward to what round three and four have.
“I’m three off the lead in the US Open, and that’s the difference of one hole. You can make birdie and someone can make double. I’m right in position and right there where I want to be. It’s going to be a fun weekend.”
Taiwanese amateur Cheng-Tsung Pan was one over par with four holes of his second round still to play. The 21 year old was introduced to the game by his mother, who caddied at a course in Taiwan, but moved to the United States in 2007 to play collegiate golf at the University of Washington.
The cut fell at eight over par with 73 players making the final two rounds, which would begin in threeballs
at 12:15pm local time from the first and 11th tee.
Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy had been joint 29th when they finished their rounds yesterday, but had climbed to 13th without hitting another ball.
At three over par they were only four off the lead alongside Spain's Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño and Open Champion Ernie Els, while Florida-based Scott Russell Knox and three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington were a shot further back.
Swede Henrik Stenson compiled a 68 to join Poulter on two over.
Paul Casey, who had to come through qualifying at Walton Heath, was five over after rounds of 73 and 72, while Sergio Garcia was six over after consecutive rounds of 73.
Lee Westwood, John Parry, Paul Lawrie and Martin Laird all finished seven over, while Martin Kaymer, Peter Hedblom, Martin Ørum Madsen, David Howell, Simon Khan and Irish amateur Kevin Phelan all made the cut on the mark.
The draw meant Woods and McIlroy would play together for the third day in succession - Fernandez-Castaño making up the group - with the final three-ball of Mickelson, Horschel
and Donald not out until 2:40pm local time.