Highlights from the third round of the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay in University Place (check back for updates throughout the day):
WILD DAY, CROWDED LEADERBOARD
Four golfers are tied for the lead after three rounds of the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay, but one has emerged as the crowd favorite.
Battling vertigo for the second consecutive day, Australian Jason Day birdied three of the final four holes to shoot a 2-under-par 68. It was the second-best round of the day behind South African Louis Oosthuizen’s 66.
Day is tied for the overall lead with Americans Jordan Spieth and Dustin Johnson and South African Branden Grace. All are at 4-under-par for the tournament.
Johnson and Grace shot even-par rounds Saturday and Spieth was 1-over par. Spieth was tied for the lead after the second round with American Patrick Reed. Reed shot a 6-over-par round Saturday and dropped into a tie for ninth.
Day and Johnson will play in the final round Sunday. Grace and Spieth, the Masters champ, will play in the second-to-last group.
Oosthuizen is lurking three strokes behind the leaders after shooting a 66 for the second consecutive day. At 1-under-par for the tournament he is in a four-way tie for fifth with Australian Cameron Smith (who shot a third-round 69), American J.B. Holmes (71) and Shane Lowry (70) of Ireland.
BIG DAY FOR DAY AFTER FRIDAY’S SCARE
Battling vertigo, Day shot a 2-under-par 68 and established himself as one of the crowd favorites.
The crowd roared its approval as he finished with a pair of birdies to grab a share of the lead.
“I didn’t feel that great coming out early, and then … I felt pretty groggy on the front nine just from the drugs that I had in my system, then kind of flushed that out on the back nine,” Day said. “But then it kind of came back - the vertigo came back a little bit on the 13th tee box, and then (I) felt nauseous all day. I started shaking on 16 tee box and then just tried to get it in, really. Just wanted to get it in.”
He collapsed on the course Friday. After receiving assistance he finished his round, but appeared off balance.
“Last year I didn’t play the round after I had vertigo and this one was worse,” Day said. “I think the goal was just to go through today and see how it goes.”
SPIETH ‘A LITTLE BIT OFF,’ STILL TIED FOR LEAD
Despite four three-putts and his first over-par round at Chambers Bay, Spieth is in position to complete his quest to win the first two majors of the season.
The Masters champ missed a 12-foot birdie putt on No. 18 to finish in a four-way tie for first.
“All in all it was just a little bit off,” Spieth said. :”But plenty of birdies. Just need to limit the mistakes tomorrow.”
Spieth had four birdies Saturday.
If he wins the U.S. Open he will be the first to win the first two majors of the season since Tiger Woods in 2002. He said he thinks about it “here and there, because I’d like to win two in a row. But tomorrow, once I get out on the golf course I’ll just be focused on the round and how to separate myself from the pack.”
JOHNSON PLAYED ‘REALLY WELL’ TO SHARE 54-HOLE LEAD
Dustin Johnson shot even-par Saturday – five birdies, three bogeys and a double bogey – and that was just fine with him.
On the third day of the U.S. Open, anything even or under is going to be just fine with most players.
“It’s still a really solid round,” he said. “Even par out there this afternoon is a good score, as you can see. And I thought I played solid, hit a lot of good golf shots. So I’m very pleased with the way today went.”
He’s now at 4-under for the championship, tied with Spieth, Day and Grace for the 54-hole lead heading into Sunday’s final round.
“I’m very excited,” Johnson said. “I’m right where I want to be. I’m in position. If I play well tomorrow we’ll see what happens.”
GRACE: “I CAN’T WAIT FOR (SUNDAY)”
Co-leader Branden Grace can’t wait to tee off Sunday as one of the four golfers sitting at 4-under after 54 holes.
“I’m stoked,” the South African said. “I can’t wait for (Sunday).
“This is what we play golf for. So it’s my dream to lead a tournament or tying the lead.”
His previous-best finish at the U.S. Open was in 2012 (tied for 51st). In just his third U.S. Open start, Grace will be pared with Masters champion and co-leader Jordan Spieth for the 2:48 p.m. PDT tee time Sunday. Jason Day and Dustin Johnson, also co-leaders at 4-under, will tee off at 3 p.m. PDT.
Grace shot an even-par 70 Saturday, a round he described as “some great golf and the concentration slipped a bit at the turn” but overall, a happy performance. “I’m still in a good position,” Grace said. “I’m grinding away. It was a good day out there. But it was tough.”
PATRICK REED ‘HORRENDOUS,’ FALLS TO 1-OVER
Patrick Reed took himself to task for the 6-over 76 he shot during the third round at the U.S. Open.
He played with Jordan Spieth in the final group after entering Saturday’s round tied for the lead at 5-under, but carded three double-bogeys and fell to 1-over for the championship, five shots back of co-leaders Spieth, Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Branden Grace at 4-under.
“Anytime you hit the ball as poorly as I did and putt as poorly as I did, it’s going to be a rough day, especially at a U.S. Open,” Reed said. “I think the most important thing is I need to learn how to put four rounds together. I haven’t done it in forever. Didn’t even do it at Tournament of Champions, even though I won there.
“I need to figure it out. It’s unacceptable the way I played. I go out there, have I think more doubles than birdies today. It’s just ridiculous. To have a 4-putt, I could have done that left-handed. So it was horrendous out there. And the golf course beat me.”
OOSTHUIZEN CLIMBS LEADERBOARD TO 1-UNDER
Twenty holes into the U.S. Open championship, Louis Oosthuizen sat at plus-9, but it was the highlight in a grouping with Tiger Woods (plus-16) and Rickie Fowler (plus-14), both of whom missed the weekend cut.
A birdie on a par-4 12th hole, his third hole Friday is what Oosthuizen said jump-started the rest of his second round, which carried him into under-par status Saturday to close out 1-under (4-under for the round).
“I started hitting the ball better and better and better as I went through the second round and hit it really well today (Saturday),” Oosthuizen said. So it just shows you to never give up, especially on a golf course like this.
“If you play well and you shoot 1 or 2-under you can really climb the leaderboard.”
That’s exactly what Oosthuizen did, getting to even-par with a birdie on six, then moving to 1-under with a birdie on the par-3 No. 13. He totaled five birdies on the day and zero bogeys.
“If I hit it the way I did today I think I’ve got a pretty good chance of putting a good number out there again (tomorrow),” he said.
HOLMES IN CONTENTION AT 1-UNDER
J.B. Holmes made bogeys on the 15th and 17th holes, but his eagle on the par-4 16th kept him within shouting distance of the leaders.
Holmes finished his Saturday round – a 1-over 71 – at 1-under for the championship, three shots back of the current logjam atop the leaderboard.
“It’s pretty special, to be in a U.S. Open on Saturday and in contention and have that happen,” Holmes said of the eagle, which came when he holed out a 26-yard bunker shot from right of the green. “That’s pretty awesome. So I’ll definitely log that in the memory bank as a great moment in my career.”
RORY DISAPPOINTED WITH 70, ‘BUMPY’ GREENS
After firing his best round of the U.S. Open on Saturday, Rory McIlroy took exception to Henrik Stenson comparing the Chambers Bay greens to broccoli.
“I don’t think they’re as green as broccoli,” McIlroy said, after shooting an even-par 70. “I think they’re more like cauliflower. Like, they are what they are, everyone has to putt on them. It’s all mental. Some guys embrace it more than others, and that’s really the way it is.
“It is disappointing that they’re not in a bit better shape. But the newer greens like 7 and 13, they’re perfect.”
He says the greens were better when he arrived Sunday.
“I felt like they brought it a little too much towards the brink then,” McIroy said. “And it’s always a struggle from then to sort of rein it back (a) little bit. I would have liked to see them keep it a little greener for the practice rounds and then gradually as the tournament progresses get a little firmer.
“That might have kept the greens in a bit better shape, but you never know. I’ve never been here before, but I hear that the weather isn’t always like this. So if there had been a little bit of moisture and had it been overcast the greens might not have gotten baked out and as bumpy as they are.”
McIlroy shot 2-over-par the first two days. He says he should have scored better Saturday.
“I missed seven good chances on the back nine – or seven makeable putts, anyway,” McIlroy said. “It was just nice to see one drop at the last there. Yeah, I feel like I turned a 65 into a 70 today. Just real disappointed.”
GARCIA: “THE U.S. OPEN DESERVES BETTER THAN THAT”
Sergio Garcia stands by his Twitter comments about the Chambers Bay greens.
Garcia took to social media Friday, attacking the greens as not U.S. Open-caliber quality.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Garcia said, “I think there’s 3 or 4 (holes) that are great” later commenting on the beauty of holes 7, 10 and 13.
But he did note that the only way to fix the Chambers Bay greens is to have all 18 holes redone with either all fescue grass or all poa.
“The problem is when you have different types of grass, they all grow differently, and they all have they’re very uneven,” Garcia said. “I was trying to make a statement (on Twitter) to make sure the USGA doesn’t allow this to happen to one of the best tournaments we have all year.
“The majors deserve to be in a great shape,” Garcia continued. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen this week. The U.S. Open deserves better than that.”
Garcia didn’t say future U.S. Opens or majors shouldn’t be played at Chambers Bay; he liked the course set up and the fans who have shown up to the first three rounds at the University Place course.
Garcia shot an even-par 70 Saturday to remain at 5-over for the championship. The cut line after 36 holes was plus-5; amateur Nick Hardy’s bogey on his final hole – a par-3 ninth – moved the cut line to 5-over, giving 15 more golfers, including Garcia, passage into the third round.
SCHWARTZEL IMPROVES TO 2-OVER
A new round, an improved score for Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters winner.
The South African shot his first under-par round of the championship (1-under 69) to move to 2-over for the tournament.
A birdie on the par-5 18th sealed the below-par score to closer out the back-9 with a 35. He also birdied the par-4 12th hole for the first time.
“I think any time you shoot under par around here is quite an achievement,” Schwartzel said. “I have hit really quality golf shot(s), which is a really good nice comfort going into tomorrow (Sunday). If I can pull off something tomorrow and bump a few putts into the hole, can be patient, if I can get it to under par, I don’t think it will be far away.”
MICKELSON DROPS TO 10-OVER
Phil Mickelson dropped seven shots in his third round, including a front-9 40, to close out at 10-over-par.
Mickelson made two birdies – on 11 and 17 – and nine bogeys.
“As bad as my score was,” Mickelson said, “I hit a lot of good shots that ended up as bogeys. And through 3 rounds, I haven’t made a double.”
FURYK OK WITH COURSE, DESPITE ANOTHER 73
Jim Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open champ, hasn’t had a round of par or better at Chambers Bay, but he says talk of the complexity of the course is “overblown.”
He says three rounds has given him a good feel for the course.
“I don’t feel like I’ve made a lot of mistakes this week because of lack of preparation,” said Furyk who shot his second consecutive round of 73 on Saturday and sits 7-over-par for the tournament. “I feel like (I) really haven’t been on top of my game at times, and that’s cost me some shots. I made some silly errors.
“At first look, the golf course, it definitely blows your mind. It definitely takes you this way. You look at it and it takes you out. You start trying to think of all the variables. Once you play it two or three times, you can kind of bring everything back in and realize the small areas that you are trying to hit the ball to.”
TACOMA’S KELLY STICKS AROUND, SHOOTS 72
Tacoma’s Troy Kelly had all but turned the page after Friday.
After finishing with a bogey in the second round to fall to 5-over 145, Kelly figured his hometown U.S. Open experience was over. But he couldn’t stop looking at his phone as the scoring got worse Friday afternoon, nudging him closer to the cut-line.
And sometime after 9 p.m., amateur Nick Hardy, who was playing in the final group, made bogey on his final hole at No. 9 to move the cut-line to 145, allowing 15 golfers, including Kelly, back into the championship.
“I just wanted to play again,” said Kelly, who shot a 2-over-par 72 on Saturday, including back-to-back birdies at Nos. 7 and 8.
“I was having so much fun the first two days with having all my buddies out, and all the people out here supporting me.”
BELJAN CARDS 69, HOPES FOR WIND
Charlie Beljan, who is playing the weekend for the first time in three U.S. Opens, shot 1-under-par 69 on Saturday.
A birdie and eagle offset two bogeys in the first five holes. Beljan is 3-over-par for the tournament.
“The way I’m hitting it right now, and if I found a little something on the putting green, (on) this course you can go out and shoot a 3- or 4-under,” said Beljan, a 30-year-old from Arizona.
“I hope the wind blows 25 (mph) this afternoon and I hope the greens get harder and faster and we’ll see what these guys do,” Baljan said. “I think you can go there and shoot a quick 78, 79, 80, but I think if you play real well and put it in the right position and make a couple lengthy putts, which I think you have got to do, I think you can shoot 3- or 4-under.”