At the U.S. Open, a Three-Way Tie for the Lead Sets Up a Wild Finish

SAN DIEGO — There have been loads of intriguing story traces, however little sizzle, in the opening half of the 2021 United States Open. Richard Bland of England, who certified for the championship by successful his first European Tour occasion after 477 failed makes an attempt, was tied for the lead with Russell Henley, a PGA Tour veteran whose final match victory was 4 years in the past.

The highlight of America’s nationwide golf championship was desperately trying for a acquainted face.

In the third spherical on Saturday at Torrey Pines Golf Course, the sport’s headliners lastly stepped to the fringe of the stage, an skilled, embellished crew that will forecast a star-powered and suspenseful end to Sunday’s last spherical.

Henley completed the spherical at 5 beneath par total and remained atop the leaderboard and was tied by one other lesser-known participant, Mackenzie Hughes of Canada. But with a thrilling 52-foot eagle putt on the 18th gap, Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion from South Africa, additionally vaulted into a tie for first. Moreover, Rory McIlroy, the five-time main champion, and Bryson DeChambeau, the defending U.S. Open champion, mustered costs that left them two strokes off the lead at three beneath.

Jon Rahm, a distinguished pretournament favourite due to his stellar play in the final month, was at two beneath, as was the resurgent Matthew Wolff, final yr’s runner-up in the occasion, and Scottie Scheffler, one other promising younger participant with a number of latest prime finishes. Not to be neglected at simply 4 strokes off the lead have been final yr’s Masters champion Dustin Johnson, who shot a 68 on Saturday, and Collin Morikawa, the winner of the 2020 P.G.A. Championship.

“Yeah, it was moving day, I guess,” McIlroy stated afterward. “A lot of guys are playing well and getting in the fight. That’s what you have to do in the third round of a major.”

McIlroy began slowly on Saturday however had 4 birdies and a bogey on his last 9 to complete with a 67, which was six strokes higher than his second-round efficiency. His late run began when he chipped in from 33 yards at the 12th gap, and it concluded with a nervy downhill two-putt from 62 ft at the par-5 18th gap.

Although McIlroy stated the greatest shot of his again 9 had been a 4-foot bogey putt at the 15th gap.

“This is the only tournament in the world where you fist-pump a bogey,” he stated. “That putt was huge for momentum — to not give away two strokes.”

The superstitious McIlroy additionally stated he was going to eat the similar rooster sandwich he had had for the earlier 5 dinners this week at Torrey Pines.

“It’s really good, and it’s really working for me,” McIlroy stated.

DeChambeau had the most error-free day amongst the leaders, capturing a 68 with out making a bogey. DeChambeau’s spherical may have been higher, as he pounded many drives roughly 340 yards. But his strategy pictures didn’t persistently discover the greens. Still, DeChambeau overpowered the prolonged first and sixth holes to make birdies on every and took benefit of the par-5 13th gap for a third birdie.

Most encouraging for DeChambeau was his sharp quick sport, one thing he relied on throughout his victory at last year’s U.S. Open. As a lot as DeChambeau is thought for how far he hits the golf ball, environment friendly play close to the greens, and correct placing, has often been the finest predictor of his success.

As has been the case for the previous few weeks, DeChambeau on Saturday was additionally taunted by followers who shouted “Let’s go, Brooks-y” after lots of his swings — a nod to the running feud with his colleague Brooks Koepka.

DeChambeau stated afterward that he had realized to deal with the shouts “as a compliment.”

“I’m embracing it — I smile,” he stated.

Koepka, who like DeChambeau started the day at even par, didn’t enhance his place with three birdies and three bogeys for a 71.

Wolff had an erratic day and shot 73 with 4 bogeys, however after not enjoying competitively for the final two months, he was happy that he remained in the hunt for the championship.

“I was a hair off out there at times,” Wolff, 22, stated. “But I felt like I grinded pretty good and kept the scores as low as possible to give myself a good chance going into tomorrow.”

Henley was one beneath par on his opening 9 holes and held a two-shot lead on the discipline, an edge he stored when he lofted a shot from a proper greenside bunker on the 11th gap and watched his ball bounce as soon as after which disappear in the gap for a birdie.

But it was Henley’s final birdie in an even-par spherical of 71.

Hughes caught Henley with a blistering again 9, capturing a four-under 32. He will play in the last group on Sunday, paired with Oosthuizen.

“You get goose bumps thinking about it,” Hughes stated Saturday night of the matchup. “I know I’m going to be nervous tomorrow. But yeah, I’m going to try and enjoy it lots. You know, it’s where you want to be.”

Bland, after his gorgeous surge in Friday’s second spherical, appeared calm all through his opening 9 holes on Saturday with an uncomplicated swing that persistently arrange par and birdie putts. But a few of the magic of his placing stroke was lacking. Bland had transformed 31 of 31 putts inside 10 ft in the first two rounds. That streak ended on the fifth gap, when he missed an 8-foot par putt and made bogey.

Things bought worse, with consecutive bogeys on the 11th and 12th holes. Bland then left a 7-foot par putt quick on the 16th gap, and his 20-foot par putt on the 17th inexperienced slid previous the proper facet of the gap. The par-5 18th gap introduced a most ignominious ending when Bland’s third shot plunked into the pond fronting the inexperienced. That led to a third successive bogey as he completed with a 77 and was one over for the match.

“That’s the U.S. Open — some days it’s just going to beat you up all day,” Bland stated shortly after his spherical. “And today was my day.”

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