The USGA has apologized for how unfair the Shinnecock Hills course was in the third round of the U.S. Open.
Only three players shot under par – co-leaders Daniel Berger and Tony Finau with 66s, and Kiradech Aphibarnrat with a 68. Two others were at even par: Gary Woodland and Brian Gay.
Meanwhile, there were eight rounds of 80 or higher, including Rickie Fowler with an 84 and Phil Mickelson at 81.
“It was a tale of two golf courses, and no doubt, we would admit, well-executed shots were not only not regarded, but were punished,” said Mike Davis, the USGA’s executive director and the man in charge of course setup. “We would say that it was a very tough test, and really too tough this afternoon.”
Davis promised to slow down the course for Sunday’s final round.
“You saw some low scores this morning; those hole locations actually work,” Davis said. “Having said that, this golf course will get slowed down tonight. There will be water applied to it.”
That process began on some holes even before Dustin Johnson bogeyed No. 18 to fall into a four-way tie for the lead at 3 over par.
Despite shooting a 7-over-77, Dustin Johnson managed to hold onto the lead after three rounds at the U.S. Open – as part of a four-way tie.
Defending champion Brooks Koepka, Daniel Berger and Tony Finau also were at 3 over heading into the final round.
Johnson, the 2016 U.S. Open winner, has been on top of the leaderboard all three days at Shinnecock Hills. He went out in 6-over 41 before steadying on the back nine. But he three-putted the 18th to slip into a logjam as his four-stroke lead after two rounds disappeared.
Koepka shot 2 over in the third round. Berger and Finau, out earlier in the day, soared into contention with the best rounds, 66s. They were long off the course when Johnson finished.
It’s the first time in 11 years no player was at par or under it after three rounds of the U.S. Open.
Rickie Fowler was a popular choice to contend for his first major title at the U.S. Open. After two rounds, he was 2 over par and in the mix.
Then Fowler flopped.
In one of the ugliest rounds of his career, Fowler fell in a flurry of “others.” He had three double bogeys and one triple for an 83. He stands at 15 over par heading into Sunday’s final round.
Fowler had a 7 on the 10th hole. His double bogeys came on the third, eighth and 15th holes. Birdies? Forget about it.
His was one of eight 80s in the third round, with several groups still on the course.
Phil Mickelson, who swatted a moving ball on the green after putting at the 13th, earning a 2-stroke penalty, shot 81. His playing partner, Andrew Johnston, was even worse at 82.
On a rough afternoon for scoring, it sure has helped to go out early. Tony Finau and Daniel Berger did that and suddenly find themselves in contention at the U.S. Open.
With Dustin Johnson, the leader after the first two rounds, coming back to the field, both Finau and Berger are in the mix thanks to third-round 66s. They trail by only two strokes late in the afternoon, with Johnson and Koepka tied at 1 over par.
Teeing off among the early groups, Berger was 3 under on the front nine, before the overnight moisture had been baked out of the greens. Finau made his move with four birdies on the back nine, coming in at 31.
Both started the day at 7 over – 11 strokes behind Johnson.
“I think to get out there early and play a good round really was to my benefit,” Berger said. “I think, if someone shoots 4 under this afternoon, it’s more like 8 under.”
No one was coming close to 4 under late in the day.
Defending champion Brooks Koepka has taken advantage of Dustin Johnson’s collapse on the front nine in the third round of the U.S. Open.
While Johnson was shooting 6-over 41, including four bogeys and a double bogey, Koepka went out in even-par 35. When he birdied the 11th, he had the lead for the first time.
Koepka bogeyed the 12th, which left him at 1 over and tied with Henrik Stenson for the top spot.
Most of the other contenders were struggling mightily, most of all Johnson. He hadn’t three-putted before Saturday but couldn’t seem to find the cup in his first nine holes of the round.
It took all of seven holes for Dustin Johnson to lose his lead at the U.S. Open to Henrik Stenson.
Johnson hadn’t been over par through the first two rounds and hadn’t three-putted. After a double-bogey 5 on No. 2, he had done both.
He also bogeyed the fourth, sixth and seventh holes, and when Henrik Stenson birdied the par-5 fifth, to go with seven pars, he was ahead of Johnson, the 2016 U.S. Open champion, at even par. Johnson is at 1 over.
Also at 1 over are defending champion Brooks Koepka, who went out in par 35, and Justin Rose, the 2013 winner of this event.
Phil Mickelson says he didn’t mean any disrespect when he hit a moving ball on the 13th green at the U.S. Open.
The five-time major champion jogged after the ball to keep it from rolling away from the hole and hit it back to where he had been standing.
That earned him a two-stroke penalty. Mickelson said he thought it would have taken him more than two strokes if he had let the ball keep rolling.
He said he’s thought about doing it before, but this was the first time it made sense and that he didn’t intend to make a mockery of the game.