For a little while it looked like Ian Poulter would somehow catch Dustin Johnson for the U.S. Open lead before the second round was over. Then came Poulter’s second-to-last hole of the day.
Poulter, who started on the back nine, made late birdies at the 4th, 5th and 7th holes to reach three under, just one shot back of Johnson, who had seemed untouchable. But everything went haywire at the par-4 8th.
Poulter hit a solid tee shot into the fairway, but the rest was ugly. He hit his approach fat and into the right greenside bunker, leaving himself in a difficult position. Then things got worse.
He bladed the bunker shot some 20 yards over the green. His next chip advanced just a few yards into deep fescue. But that difficult lie prevented him from making the putting surface with his next shot. Finally his sixth shot on the par-4 found its way onto the green, nestling just a few feet away. He sank that putt for a rally-killing triple-bogey 7.
The disastrous hole not only killed Poulter’s chances of taking a share of the lead, it improved Johnson’s lead. He’ll have a four-shot advantage when he begins the third round on Saturday. Poulter shot 72 and is tied for fourth at one over.