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Francesco Molinari makes U.S. Open cut after walk-off ace; others not so fortunate

PINEHURST, N.C. – Francesco Molinari was down to his last chance.

Sitting at 7 over with only the 192-yard, par-3 ninth at Pinehurst No. 2 to play Friday afternoon, Molinari needed to somehow make up two shots to punch his ticket into the weekend at this 124th U.S. Open. He grabbed his 7-iron and swung away.

A few seconds later, Molinari’s ball was in the bottom of the cup.

“I think from where we were standing, it looked like it just carried the bunker, plus the greens are getting firm, so it was the ideal shot,” Molinari said. “Then it started tracking, was going to break left to right at the hole, and we were joking with Serg[io Garcia] and how it looked and on a great line the whole way, but what are the chances really. I don’t even know what to say. Just incredible.”

The hole-in-one, the second of the day at No. 9 (Sepp Straka had the other), capped a 2-over 72 that allowed Molinari to narrowly make the cut, his first made cut at a major in his last six attempts, at 5 over.

Joining Molinari at 5 over was a gigantic group of 21 other players, including world No. 1 Scottie Scheffler, Brooks Koepka, Matthew Fitzpatrick, Sahith Theegala, Tommy Fleetwood, Shane Lowry and amateur Luke Clanton, one of two amateurs to make the cut along with Masters low am Neal Shipley, who is 3 over.

Among those missing the cut were Viktor Hovland, who shot 68 Friday but could only rally to 6 over; Max Homa (6 over), Tiger Woods (7 over), Jason Day (8 over), Will Zalatoris (8 over), Rickie Fowler (8 over), Dustin Johnson (9 over), Justin Thomas (11 over) and Phil Mickelson (15 over).