Shinnecock Hills itself was changing, morphing from a tortuous test of patience into a place where birdies were not only available but plentiful.
Scott Piercy, a runner-up to Johnson at Oakmont two years ago, had a 71 and will play in the final group with him Saturday. He explained that the wind and rain made the conditions hard to play in, early on Friday.
Of the 67 players who made the cut this week, there's still a decent amount of star power.
The golf course-which was the subject of non-stop conversation on the FOX telecast, with varying voices offering their opinion as to whether it had become unfair-wasn't the only controversy that marred Moving Day. More than 50 golfers, meanwhile, are 10-over par or worse. Rickie Fowler (T-9), Justin Thomas (T-14), and Justin Rose (T-4) are all technically in contention as well.
"You can't play the player".
That may have been what led to Phil Mickelson's astonishing performance at the 13th green - where after watching his bogey putt roll past the cup and head down a hill he ran over and batted the still moving ball back toward the hole.
Out of the world's top ten players, just six made the cut at Shinnecock Hills.
Tiger Woods was a beaten man Friday.
This is the 40th major championship since the last of Woods' 14 major titles at the 2008 U.S. Open, and he has played in just 26 of them because of injury. He has gone a decade without winning a major. Woods continues to struggle with his short game, and he flirted with disaster a few too many times.
And I think that some of the strengths I have, I have a lot of patience. the tougher the conditions, the more I feel like I can grind it out and will my way around a little bit. I feel for the spectators because they are seeing pure carnage - unless that's what they want. "You have to be on".
He racked up four bogeys and a double-bogey in the second round at the notoriously hard Shinnecock Hills, while his scorecard from day one had two double-bogeys and a triple-bogey on it.
The 28-year-old Lehi resident started off shakily with birdies at holes 2 and 3 before coming back with birdies at 4 and 5 by sinking long putts of 35 and 25 feet, respectively. This marked his first U.S. Open since 2015. Not by any reasonable standard.
"I know Dustin's going well", he said. I mean, I haven't played in wind like that for quite a long time and I just felt like I couldn't aim far enough left or right to allow for the wind.
Now, is the course punitive?
That did not look like being challenged until the wind surprisingly died in late afternoon and Poulter was among those to take advantage, three birdies in four holes from the fourth taking him to within a shot of the lead.
So when did odd, interviewed as part of his role as a golf testimonee for Rolex, a partner of the U.S. Golf Association since 1980, suspect that his best golf was behind him?
There won't be an inspiring weekend return to the tournament for Tiger Woods, nor a fifth major championship for Rory McIlroy. It all comes down to execution. He's hopeful his game plan will be enough to wear the course down.