Photo credit: USGA/Jonathan Ernst

Hiroyuki Fujita Shines at U.S. Senior Open, Takes Lead After 36 Holes

Hiroyuki Fujita, a seasoned pro with 18 victories on the Japan Golf Tour and three more on the senior circuit, is showing a newfound fondness for the Ocean State. The 55-year-old from Japan, who hadn’t broken 70 in any of his three previous senior major starts, is now leading the 44th U.S. Senior Open at Newport Country Club after 36 holes.

Fujita, coming off a win at the 2023 Japan Senior Open, dazzled on a stunning summer Friday with a second-consecutive sub-70 round, carding a 4-under 66. His 36-hole total of 11-under 129 places him one shot ahead of Australian lefty Richard Green.

Although Fujita’s bogey-free streak ended at 30 holes, his performance remains impressive. He’s just three shots off the midway record held by 2019 champion Steve Stricker. Green, who shared the first-round lead with Fujita, followed his opening 63 with a solid 67.

Seven-time senior major champion Stricker, runner-up in the last two U.S. Senior Opens, fired another 66, placing him three shots back at 132, tied with England’s Richard Bland, who delivered the day’s low round of 6-under 64.

Canadian Stephen Ames, still seeking his first major title, is four shots behind after a second-round 68. Two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen, Thomas Bjorn, and Paul Stankowski are five shots back after rounds of 67, 66, and 67, respectively.

The cut came at 2-over 142, with 71 professionals making it to the weekend.

Before this week, Fujita had struggled in senior majors, failing to break 70 in three appearances. However, he’s no stranger to low scores in Japan, where he’s carded ten birdies in a single round three times. Fujita’s hot start in Newport included a birdie on his opening hole and three more to turn in 31, capped by a stellar 8-iron on the 186-yard 17th to 3 feet.

“Yesterday, there wasn’t that much wind, and it was a lot softer on the greens,” Fujita said through a translator. “Today I battled the wind a little bit, and the greens were definitely a little firmer, in my mind.”

Fujita’s lone mistake came on the par-3 fourth, where he hit his tee shot into a bunker and failed to convert a 25-foot par putt.

Green, seeking to become the first lefty to win the U.S. Senior Open, birdied the 18th and first holes to gain momentum, ultimately settling for a 67 after eight consecutive pars.

“It was much tougher conditions today with the wind,” Green noted. “There were some really testing shots out there, but I was able to hit some good ones when I needed to and hang in there when I needed to.”

Stricker had to adjust to a challenging north wind, unfamiliar for this course. Starting on No. 10, he birdied Nos. 11 and 12 and added two more on Nos. 1 and 2, finishing his round with a birdie for a 66.

Bland, who joined the U.S. Senior Open field by winning this year’s Senior PGA Championship, surged up the leaderboard with birdies and an eagle on the 317-yard, par-4 second.

“The confidence is pretty good,” Bland said. “I’ve got to go out and play my best. Hopefully, that will be good enough.”


Nine Newport Country Club caddies and two club members have joined the U.S. Senior Open action this week, showcasing their local expertise on a national stage. Club member Henrik de Koning is carrying the bag for David Heinen, while fellow member Chip Hayes is assisting Scott Fawcett, who famously caddied for Will Zalatoris during his 2014 U.S. Junior Amateur victory at The Club at Carlton Woods.

The NCC caddie crew includes Petey Alofsin, John Baldwin, Nate Bellagamba, Jackson Gorman, Lou Morini, Cam Moniz, Shane Mulhern, Wells Robinson, and Paul Shannon. These local experts are making their mark, helping competitors navigate the challenging course.

In a nostalgic twist, Tom Williams, who caddied for Sam Snead in the 1982 NYNEX Commemorative Senior Tour event at Newport Country Club, has returned 42 years later. Now 68, Williams is on the bag for qualifier William Yanisigawa. Yanisigawa, a former Stanford standout and member of the 1994 NCAA title team alongside 2024 U.S. Senior Open competitors Notah Begay III and Brad Lanning, impressed with a 69 on Friday to make the cut.

However, it was a tough week for the 19 amateurs in the field, none of whom made the cut. The last time all amateurs missed the cut was in 2022 at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa., and before that, in 2019 at the Warren Course at Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

Stay tuned for more local insights and national highlights as the U.S. Senior Open continues through the weekend.

What’s Next

A total of 71 professionals will continue the battle over the final 36 holes this weekend. Saturday’s third round starts at 8 a.m. EDT with live streaming on Peacock from 10 a.m. to noon EDT, and NBC picking up the coverage from noon to 3 p.m. Tickets for the weekend rounds are still available.

Round 3 Tee Times




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