PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Welshman Rhys Enoch fired a 5-under-par 66 in the second round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach Golf Links, but his excellent round went largely unnoticed.
Why? Because the 30-year-old former East Tennessee State golfer had struggled to a 7-over 78 in the first round, and by the time he started his round in the next-to-last group off the first tee at 2:31 p.m. local time, there were few spectators left on the opening holes.
We picked up the threesome, which included Rob Oppenheim and Richard Lee, in the middle of the fourth fairway. Playing in his first U.S. Open, Enoch was 8 over at the time, having bogeyed the first hole, with a slim chance at best of making the 36-hole cut. He went for broke off the fourth tee, hitting his drive on the 334-yard hole 300 yards into the first cut of rough next to a bunker just short of the green.
His pitch stopped inside 3 feet, and Enoch made the birdie. Seven over.
After a par at the short fifth hole, Enoch split the fairway with his drive on the par-5 sixth, laced an iron shot from 235 yards to 7 feet and made the eagle. Five over.
A short wedge shot to the center of the seventh green left Enoch with a 20-footer for birdie. He made it with authority. Four over.
A superb second shot on the difficult par-4 ninth produced a 7-foot birdie putt. Enoch holed it. Three over.
After giving a shot back at the 11th, Enoch birdied both the 13th and 16th holes, the latter with a 9-foot putt. Enoch pumped his fist after holing his right-to-left breaker to get top 2 over. He knew where he stood. Scoreboards had proclaimed throughout the day that the projected cut would be 2 over.
At 17, Enoch got up-and-down from the front bunker, holing a 4-footer to save par. A routine par at the 18th ensured he would play the weekend.
Doubtless, Enoch will pick up a decent check for his efforts this weekend—perhaps more than he made in his previous three professional victories: the 2018 Cape Town Open on the Sunshine Tour, the 2012 Bowood Open on the Jamega Tour and the 2017 Boavista Classic on the Portugal Pro Golf Tour.
Enoch's only two previous appearances in majors (both times in the British Open) ended in a missed cut in 2014 and a tie for 67th last year.
UPDATE: Enoch shot a respectable even-par 71 in the third round at Pebble Beach and was tied for 53rd with most of the field still on the course.