An early US Open departure for Day and McIlroy

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Wet conditions helped produce low scores in round one, but Casey noticed a difference in difficulty at Erin Hills on Friday.

When Thomas joined the lead there were seven players packed tight at seven-under, including overnight leaders Englishmen Paul Casey and Tommy Fleetwood and Americans Brooks Koepka and Brian Harman. It was the first time since the official world rankings began in 1986 that the top three all missed the cut in a major. Over the final few holes, with Justin Rose struggling to try to make the cut and McIlroy finally playing well, Day was simply trying to stay out of the way.

Some of the world's top-ranked players and pre-tournament favourites will miss the cut.

Five-time major tournament victor Rory McIlroy will be headed home from the 2017 U.S. Open early after shooting a 71 in the second round on Friday morning to move his overall score to +5, well below the projected cut line. Masters champion Sergio Garcia returned a tidy one-under 71 to leave the Spaniard four back and in contention for a second straight major.

Willett, who pulled out before the start of his second round, was heading towards the Erin Hills exit anyway after slumping to an opening round nine-over 81. And I felt the most calm I have in a major in a long time this week.

"The fairways are wide enough", he shrugged. He said that his 16 years of experience is what allowed him to keep the wheels from falling off on the par-5 14th hole.

Shane Lowry proved the best of the Irish and the only one of the starting quartet to make the cut, reaching the half-way stage just inside the cut mark on one over par. "I got in a hazard on one".

McIlroy however, who is returning from a hip and back injury, put a fearless face on his second consecutive missed cut at a US Open following his exit at the halfway stage in 2016.

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This assortment at the top was made possible when the wheels came off Fowler's game after his lights-out, record-setting 65 at Erin Hills golf course on Thursday.

"If you look at this golf course and you talk to me, Jason or Rory, this golf course sets up ideal for us", Johnson said.

McIlroy meanwhile - who earlier in the week had advised players unable to hit the fairways to "pack their bags" - was left at five over par after a second-round 71.

"It will be just fine", said Fowler, who plays in the third-to-last group on Saturday.

With little to play for McIlroy then strung together his best sequence of holes in the tournament, carding four birdies and two pars.

PGA Tour rookie Xander Schauffele and veteran Brit Paul Casey closed to within one of Fowler, adding drama late in the day.

"I was in the hay too much over the last couple of days", Day told reporters about the knee-high fescue grass lining the fairways at the links-style layout in the Wisconsin countryside. I think the more rounds I can play, I'm hopefully going to get rid of all that stuff and hopefully strip it down to what you saw the last six holes.

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