University of Washington sophomore Cheng-Tsung Pan has a chance to do something that no amateur golfer has done since the 1930s: Win the U.S. Open. At even par through 27 holes, Pan was a stroke back of the lead Friday when play was suspended because of darkness at Merion Golf Club outside Philadelphia, where bad weather has forced delays in the first two rounds.
Phil Mickelson and Billy Horschel, who finished their second rounds, share the lead at 1-under par 139. Pan has to finish his second round Saturday morning. Barring a backside collapse, Pan will qualify for the final two rounds Saturday and Sunday, weather permitting. Pan is the top amateur in the field and tied at second with some of the world’s premier pros — Luke Donald, Steve Stricker, Justin Rose and Ian Poulter.
“I feel played great, after I missed a couple of fairways,” Pan said. “I definitely feel good, for sure. I grinded it out, trying to make par putts. That made all the difference.”
He had two birdies and no bogeys in the nine holes Friday. His best hole was No. 5 where he “hit a good first shot in a tiny fairway, and a really good second shot. It was an easy birdie there on one of the toughest holes.”
Pan said he had no expectation of contention.
“Obviously, this is the U.S. Open — lots of great players,” he said. “I just tried to be a good player. The course is good for me because it’s not really long. It’s narrow and accuracy is my strong point. So the course helps a lot.
“It’s great to see my name on the leaderboard.”
The 5-foot-6 Pan, a first-team All-America from Taiwan who attended the IMG Academy in Florida, and about half the field will tee up at 4:15 a.m. PT Saturday to finish the second round.
UW teammate Chris Williams is at nine over and is likely to miss the cut by a stroke.