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Par-5 fifth gives Big 3 of Scottie Scheffler, Xander Schauffele and Rory McIlroy fits on Friday

PINEHURST, N.C. – Driving the ball as well as he ever has, Xander Schauffele still managed to clank one off a pine tree left of the par-5 fifth hole Friday, his ball tumbling into native area short and left of the fairway, just 186 yards away.

Somehow, it only got more challenging from there – for all three of the stars in the group.

There are only two par 5s at Pinehurst No. 2, and the reachable fifth hole – particularly with its treacherous back-left hole location, with the slopes running away on all sides – gave the three best players in the world fits at the U.S. Open.

After getting back into position following the wayward drive, Schauffele’s 200-yard third shot caught the severe slopes around the flag and dove hard left of the green, down into the sandy waste area. Already in a similar spot were Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy, both of whom failed to keep the ball on the putting surface with the hard right-to-left movement in the green.

“You’re hitting off a lie with the ball above your feet, and the wind is a touch off the right as well,” McIlroy said. “It’s hard to not let that ball go left on you with your second shot. I’d say there’s going to be a lot of guys down in that left sandy area today.”

Few had as much trouble as this group.

Scheffler was the first to play from the native area.

With a tuft of wiregrass ahead of his ball, the world No. 1 was unable to play a chasing, bump-and-run shot like he initially wanted. With no choice but to go for the splash-out, Scheffler’s shot didn’t carry the crest of the hill and came back down, almost to its original spot. With his next shot, he didn’t take any chances, blasting out past the flag, but the slope behind the hole carried it all the way off the green and onto the closely mown area long.

“I think that’s part of the mystery of the sandy areas,” Scheffler said. “You get down there and it’s luck of the draw whether or not you have a shot. Really, all you’re trying to do from there is get it up to the green somewhere, and I felt like I took the best route I could think of at first, and just because it’s so unpredictable. Just a pretty challenging spot for your ball to end up in.”

After Scheffler failed to get up-and-down from the back, he walked off with a double-bogey 7 to tumble toward the cut line.

Walking off the green, he muttered, “That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.”

Scheffler, Schauffele, and McIlroy struggle on 5th
Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, and Xander Schauffele all struggle with misfortune on the 5th hole during the second round of the 2024 U.S. Open.

Schauffele didn’t have an easier time.

After Schauffele’s caddie told him just to give himself a putt to save par, Schauffele, like Scheffler before him, also didn’t clear the slope with his shot from the sand. In the end, his ball rolled back 2 feet in front of him.

“That pissed me off,” Schauffele said.

“You can hit a good shot,” he continued. “It’s sort of like a bunker. You don’t really trust what’s underneath versus like an actual bunker. There’s a ton of sand in the bunker. You want to hit it hard, down into the ground. But you’re worried is there more sand or less sand. That little bit of hesitation is not good when your room for margin isn’t that good.”

Needing to try a similar shot again, Schauffele pounded down on the ball and sent it out 9 feet past the flag, the backspin he created at least keeping it from funneling off the back of the green. His putt for bogey missed, and he recorded a 7 – just like Scheffler.

Watching all of the carnage was McIlroy, whose ball came to rest nearest to the flag. He took a straight-faced club, bumped his ball into the steep slope and watched as it rolled all the way off the back. From there, he chipped to 9 feet, and he pumped his fist when his ball found the bottom of the cup for a hard-earned par.

“I was pretty happy with mine just to get it over the other side of the green and get it up-and-down for 5,” he said.

In all, the group was on the hole for about 45 minutes – a two-group wait on the tee, another long pause in the fairway, and then the disaster around the green. Scheffler and Schauffele accounted for two of the six morning-wave doubles or worse on what was still, statistically, the easiest hole on the course to par.

“It’s doable,” Schauffele said. “I’m sure there will be a highlight of someone holing out or hitting a very close shot out of there. It’s very doable. We just made a mess of it.”