Back in the hotel Thursday night, University Place’s Michael Putnam realized there was one thing he had never accomplished at a U.S. Open.
Post an under-par score.
And some 18 hours later, that goal was met.
The Life Christian Academy and Pepperdine University graduate posted a 2-under-par 70 on Friday in the second round to make the cut at the 117th U.S. Open at Erin Hills.
It was Putnam’s third made cut in five U.S. Open appearances — with the last coming in 2011 at Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.
And the pleasant ending in all of what Putnam did Friday is that he is also under-par for the tournament at the midway point.
“I am just calmer, and have got more experience under my belt,” Putnam said. “It helps when you are leaking oil sometimes.”
Putnam surged with a birdie at No. 12, sinking a 22-foot putt from the front of the green to get to even-par for the championship.
And two holes later at the par 5, he hit a wedge to 5 feet, and made the putt for a final birdie.
But what people might remember most is the par-saver on the 17th hole.
After advancing his ball 70 yards out of the thick right rough, Putnam hit his third shot at the par 4 to the back-left fringe.
He had 75 feet remaining to save par. He chose the putter.
“I just hit two squirrely shots, and it was a tight lie going downhill, so I was putting it the whole way,” Putnam said. “This where experience paid off – I slowed myself down, took a couple extra deep breaths – and made an 80-footer.”
Meanwhile, even after the worst second round imaginable, Tacoma’s Derek Barron did not hang his head in disappointment.
The 32-year-old Emerald Ridge High School graduate got off to an awful start — five consecutive bogeys — and tied the worst score in two days at Erin Hills with an 83.
After his opening 70 and sitting tied for 18th, Barron fell 122 spots on the leaderboard, and bowed out of the tournament in his first U.S. Open trip.
And yet, afterward, he remained upbeat about his future in the sport.
“I don’t like to play it down that I am the small fish in the big pond, because I feel my game can hold up out here,” Barron said. “It didn’t today, but (Thursday), it did.”
It was a quick turnaround for Barron, who was in the last group Thursday night, finishing just pat 8 p.m. local time.
He was up at 5 a.m. for his morning tee time, arrived at the course to get stretching, but the USGA’s wellness office was closed.
His bad run started on the opening hole – No. 10 – where his approach shot came up short and right of the green. And he ran his chip 16 feet past the hole, leading to a bogey.
The worst hiccup came two holes later where he missed a 4-foot putt for par, continuing his string of bogeys.
“The greens were a little firmer, a little faster,” Barron said,” and I did not adjust fast enough.”
In all, Barron — who will have the next few weeks off before rejoining the Mackenzie Tour in Canada — made nine bogeys and a double bogey, and no birdies.
“I would be lying if I said I did not think about what could be if I played good today,” Barron said. “But I didn’t feel tight or weird. I hit some good shots, but I just didn’t make any putts.”