Utahns Tony Finau, Zac Blair survive cut among top 10 at US Open

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SALT LAKE CITY — Tony Finau picked several spots to iron out his aggression, and found himself in contention through 36 holes of the U.S. Open.

Finau put himself in contention for the weekend, shooting 1-under-par 69 and just two shots off the lead at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina.

After firing an opening round 68, Finau opened Friday with a steady front nine. A bogey on the par-4, 523-yard fourth hole was quickly corrected with a birdie on the par-5, 596-yard sixth to hit the turn at even-par 35.

The Rose Park native pulled back a pair of birdies to open the back nine, cutting as close as two shots of the lead en route to 1-under 69 to safely cruise into the weekend.

"There were some pins today that I thought the short side was actually where the green was. So for that reason, I thought there were some holes that I could hit at," Finau said. "I was okay being short-sided because it was an uphill shot. I will agree with that as far as being aggressive. I thought because I was playing from the fairway, there were some pins that I was like, okay, we talked about it before the round and said, these are pins that are pretty much green lights. The short side is actually missing to the opposite side because that shot was going to bring in the other side and the other miss.

"I thought my caddie and I have done a good job so far just preparing and knowing when to hit at flags and when not to," he added.

Fellow Utah native Zac Blair also shot 1-under 69 to advance to the weekend, carding four birdies with three bogeys to finish 36 holes with a two-day total of 1-under 69.

Sweden's Ludvig Aberg — Finau's playing partner along with Dustin Johnson — and France's Matthieu Pavon are tied for the lead at 5-under, one shot ahead of Bryson DeChambeau, Thomas Detry and Patrick Cantlay.

Aberg is trying to become the first golfer to win in his first start since Francis Ouimet in 1913.

"The guy is like a machine, from what I saw," Finau said after his first round playing with the 24-year-old Swede who played college golf at Texas Tech. "I obviously am focused on what I'm doing and playing my game, but he hit a lot of fairways and a lot of greens. He sure makes it look pretty easy.

"As far as me, I think, again, we had a game plan going in. You've got to hit fairways out here. I've done a good job of that so far, and that's what I'll be looking to do over the next couple days to give myself a chance to win."

Finau is tied for sixth with first-round co-leader Rory McIlroy, while Blair is tied for ninth.

Finau and McIlroy will be paired together during moving day Saturday at 1:13 p.m. MDT, while Blair plays with Billy Horschel beginning at 12:13 p.m. MDT.

Notable names who missed the cut include Tiger Woods, who shot a two-day total of 7-over 147 in his 13th consecutive round without breaking par in a major tournament; 2015 PGA Championship medalist Jason Day at 8-over; and Rickie Fowler, whose bid for his first major title since turning pro in 2009 continues after shooting 8-over.

"I thought I played well enough to be up there in contention. It just didn't work out," Woods said after he was asked following his round if Friday "could be (his) last U.S. Open."

"As far as my last Open Championship or U.S. Open Championship, I don't know what that is. It may or may not be."


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