Golf fans who paid for the US Open hospitality tent package were promised the ‘best views’ of the action, but one lucky group got even more than they bargained for on Friday.
Facing the longest hole in the Country Club – the 616-yard fourteenth – MJ Daffue found himself taking an unexpected detour after his tee shot deflected to the left and settled on the hospitality deck.
Still in bounds, the South African could have taken the opportunity for a drop ball, but instead lined up his 4 wood on the mat, much to the delight of the crowd gathered to watch from a few yards away.
With a tree, a concession stand and a gaggle of spectators in the driving line, the margins of error were extremely small, but Daffue delivered with insistence, blasting his effort across the gap.
If the shot wasn’t already impressive enough, it landed just off the green in the rough. However, a clumsy chip and a missed putt forced the 33-year-old to settle for a bogey.
Asked about his decision not to take a drop, Daffue admitted it was part tactical and part entertaining.
“I had a good angle. I thought I was going to go left of the tree and that was a good lie,” Daffue told Sky Sports. “If I drop it, I struggled to get to the next level on the fairway.
“We’re here for entertainment, aren’t we?” So I thought why not entertain them a bit?
“It was definitely a shot that suited me perfectly – I do a lot better when sometimes I have a lane or no target and need to find something in the background. It was right up my alley.
Ranked 296th in the world and making his first major championship start, Daffue was one of the most surprising names through the opening two rounds at Brookline, as much for his golf prowess as his showmanship.
An impressive three-under 67 on Thursday saw the South African come through for his second round in joint second place, and he temporarily topped the standings by three strokes to six-under on Friday after a brilliant front nine.
Four birdies on the first seven holes saw Daffue drop three under on the turn, but a fall down the home stretch – culminating in a double bogey on the eighteenth – left him two out of 72 for the round.
At one under overall, Daffue looks certain to make the 60-man cut to advance to the third round, but can already ponder a landmark Major debut and the ability to say a “few can say” line.
“To say you led the US Open is an incredible feeling,” Daffue told reporters. “It’s obviously not the destination, it’s a step towards the goal.
“I don’t think my goal is to win this week. My goal is just to be the best I can be, and if the best I can be and the best I can play is enough for that, then I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve.
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