US Open report: Dustin Johnson tied for lead after third-round 77

Last Updated June 17 2018, 22:34Golf
Tony Finau strides his way to a 66
Tony Finau strides his way to a 66

Recap the first three rounds of the US Open, including a remarkable Saturday of high scores and Phil Mickelson-inspired controversy.

Leaders

+3 Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Tony Finau, Daniel Berger

+4 Justin Rose

+5 Henrik Stenson

+6 Patrick Reed, Jim Furyk, Kiradech Aphibarnrat

Day three report

Dustin Johnson carded a third-round 77 on a brutal Saturday afternoon at Shinnecock to fall into a four-way tie for the lead.

Four ahead at halfway having made serene progress throughout the first two days, Johnson carded an outward 41 to lose the lead and, having moved back to the front, three putts at the final hole saw him end the day with company.

Daniel Berger and Tony Finau will play in the final two-ball thanks to rounds of 66, despite beginning the day some 11 shots adrift of the leader and finishing their rounds just as Johnson set off.

Berger and Finau were tied for 45th as their rounds began but, each having made six birdies along with two bogeys, they now head into Sunday with the opportunity to win what would for each be a first major title.

Brooks Koepka completes the quartet on three-over having taken another step towards a successful US Open defence as firm, fast and perhaps even unfair conditions won the day.

One shot behind the leaders is Justin Rose, who followed a miraculous birdie at the 15th with bogeys at the 16th and 18th holes, while playing partner Henrik Stenson sits alone in sixth, two behind, after a respectable round of 74.

"It was hard, very, very hard," said Rose. "It was a classic US Open day, where the course was turning you against yourself.

"There was no reprieve out there. Survived it, I think. I've got a shot tomorrow."

Stenson called the USGA set-up "ridiculous" but was pleased to remain in contention despite bogeys at four of his final six holes.

Patrick Reed, Jim Furyk and Kiradech Aphibarnrat find themselves in contention on six-over, three back, with Tyrrell Hatton and Ian Poulter among those at seven-under and not without hope of landing the season's second major.

Rickie Fowler suffered a nightmare day as his field-high 84 saw him fall from inside the top 10 to outside the top 60, and he was one of eight players who failed to break 80.

Before Johnson and co took to the course, Phil Mickelson caused a storm by playing his ball while it was still in motion on the 13th green - before admitting afterwards that he had considered doing so on a number of occasions previously, including at Augusta.

Mickelson incurred a two-shot penalty for his actions and eventually signed for a round of 81, although some - including former coach and Sky Sports analyst Butch Harmon - called for his disqualification.

On a brutal day of US Open golf, just three players broke par and two of them will now tee off in the final group, with Johnson and Koepka poised behind. In may not be fair, but it promises to be fascinating.

Day four tee times

USA unless states, all times Local:

(a) denotes amateurs

Starting at hole 1

0821 Andrew Johnston (Eng)

0832 Byeong-Hun An (Kor), Patrick Rodgers

0843 Phil Mickelson, Rickie Fowler

0854 Ross Fisher (Eng), Tim Wilkinson (Nzl)

0905 Tyler Duncan, Calum Hill (Sco)

0916 Kevin Chappell, Mickey DeMorat

0927 Jimmy Walker, Hideki Matsuyama (Jpn)

0938 Cameron Wilson, Jason Dufner

0949 (a) Will Grimmer, Aaron Baddeley (Aus)

1000 Dean Burmester (Rsa), Brian Harman

1011 Patrick Cantlay, Sam Burns

1022 Peter Uihlein, (a) Luis Gagne (Crc)

1033 Matthieu Pavon (Fra), Bill Haas

1044 Marc Leishman (Aus), Alex Noren (Swe)

1055 Pat Perez, Louis Oosthuizen (Rsa)

1106 Chris Naegel, Haotong Li (Chn)

1117 Matt Parziale (a), Steve Stricker

1128 Brandt Snedeker, Jhonattan Vegas (Ven)

1139 Charles Howell III, Rafael Cabrera-Bello (Spa)

1150 Brendan Steele, Scott Piercy

1201 Tommy Fleetwood (Eng), Russell Henley

1212 Russell Knox (Sco), Ryan Fox (Nzl)

1223 Paul Casey (Eng), Francesco Molinari (Ita)

1234 Matthew Fitzpatrick (Eng), Justin Thomas

1245 Bryson DeChambeau, Xander Schauffele

1256 Zach Johnson, Webb Simpson

1307 Gary Woodland, Charley Hoffman

1318 Ian Poulter (Eng), Branden Grace (Rsa)

1329 Tyrrell Hatton (Eng), Dylan Meyer

1340 Brian Gay, Jim Furyk

1351 Patrick Reed, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (Tha)

1402 Henrik Stenson (Swe), Justin Rose (Eng)

1413 Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka

1424 Tony Finau, Daniel Berger


Day two report

Dustin Johnson took a massive step towards a second US Open victory in three years as Ian Poulter's challenge imploded on an eventful second day at Shinnecock Hills.

Johnson, who is looking to become only the second player after Tiger Woods to win the title as world number one, carded a second round of 67 to set a daunting clubhouse target of four under par.

That did not look like being challenged until the wind surprisingly died in late afternoon and Poulter was among those to take advantage, three birdies in four holes from the fourth taking him to within a shot of the lead.

However, the 42-year-old then thinned a bunker shot on the eighth across the green, duffed his next shot into heavy rough and ran up a triple-bogey seven, with a bogey on the ninth completing a miserable half an hour.

The resulting 72 left Poulter on one over par alongside fellow Englishmen, Justin Rose and Tommy Fleetwood, Henrik Stenson and defending champion Brooks Koepka, with Scott Piercy and Charley Hoffman the nearest challengers to Johnson on level par.

The cut fell at eight over par and saw Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy and Woods all make early exits, Spieth missing out by a single shot after following four straight birdies with bogeys on the 17th and 18th.

McIlroy's 70 was a 10-shot improvement on his opening round but still meant a third straight missed cut in an event he won in record-breaking fashion in 2011, while Woods also finished 10 over par following a 72.

Poulter was left to try to take the positives from his position on the leaderboard, but admitted: "The best outcome for me is to get it out of my mind.

"I felt stupid knifing the first shot [out of the bunker], I felt more stupid semi-chunking the next one and I didn't do that well with the next one either. But if you had offered me one over and tied fourth at the start of the week I would have taken it."

Rose expressed similar sentiments after ending his 70 with back-to-back bogeys, adding: "I found it hard to concentrate coming in, there were a lot of distractions, but I'm in a good spot and happy."

Johnson was no doubt even happier after seeing his four-shot lead restored by the late drama as he tries to become the first player to win the US Open the week after a victory on the PGA Tour.

"I like golf courses where par is a really good score and here, on every hole, par is a good score," said Johnson, who regained top spot in the world rankings following his six-shot win in Memphis. "I played well and my speed on my putts has been very good. To hole that one on the seventh (from 45 feet) was a nice bonus."

Fleetwood finished fourth at Erin Hills last year and is relishing another tough challenge over the weekend as he looks to become only the third English winner of the US Open since 1924.

"I have a lot of patience and the tougher the conditions the more I feel I can grind it out and will my way around," the European number one said. "If you are going to win the US Open, which is one of the biggest tournaments in the world, it should be that kind of test.

"It's a tournament that sets up for good ball strikers, which is one of my strengths. Yesterday we got beat up and today turned into survival midway through the wind when it was cold and raining, but I managed to get something going with some birdies at the end."

Day one report

Poulter, who was ranked outside the world's top 200 just 15 months ago, carded a one-under-par 69 to join world number one Dustin Johnson and fellow Americans Scott Piercy and Russell Henley at the top of the leaderboard at Shinnecock Hills.

Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson are part of a large tie for sixth place on one over, but McIlroy's hopes of a second US Open title and first major since 2014 were blown away as he slumped to an 80, his worst score in the US Open also equalling his worst in any major from the final round of the 2011 Masters.

And Woods fared only slightly better with a 78, which included a triple bogey on the first and consecutive double bogeys on the back nine, the first as a result of four-putting from long range.

Playing alongside McIlroy, Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson could only manage rounds of 78 and 77 respectively, while Jason Day shot 79 and former British Amateur champion Scott Gregory slumped to an unfortunate 92, the first score in the 90s in this event since 2002.

Sky Bet make Johnson their 5/2 favourite from Rose at 11/2, while it's 4/1 that either Rose or Stenson lands their second major championship.

The last time Shinnecock hosted the US Open in 2004 the USGA was pilloried for allowing the greens to become so dried out that play had to be suspended in the final round so the seventh green could be watered.

And while the wind was largely to blame for the high scores this time, Spieth felt that there were "certainly some dicey pins" and England's Tyrrell Hatton labelled those on the third, 11th and 12th as "stupid".

In contrast Poulter - who hit the pin with his tee shot on the par-three 11th - wore a broad grin when he summarised the set-up as "brilliant" after breaking 70 on the opening day for the first time at this event.

"I did not enjoy it at all here in 2004 and through most of the US Opens it feels like you are pulling teeth," said Poulter, who claimed his first victory since 2012 in the Houston Open earlier this season.

"It's supposed to be tough but this week I've changed my mindset. I'm here to enjoy my golf, play freely and just go and play. It was brutal out there and I'm glad they have widened the fairways otherwise I don't know what the scores would have been."

McIlroy had been bullish about his prospects after a lengthy spell of preparation at Shinnecock and other courses on Long Island, but after missing from seven feet for birdie on the 10th, his opening hole, he dropped six shots in the next four holes.

After reaching the turn in 42, McIlroy ran up another double bogey on the first and although he birdied the fifth and sixth, further shots were squandered on the seventh and ninth.

Since winning in 2011 with a record score of 16 under, McIlroy is a combined 53 over par in the US Open and now needs to emulate Piercy's reversal in fortunes to have a chance of making the cut, the American walking off the course in frustration at the state of his game on Wednesday.

"I was skanking it and lost like five balls in the first four holes. I'm like 'I'm outta here'," Piercy explained.

"I needed some time away so we went back to the house, ordered some pizza and I actually went back on my Instagram.

"I looked at some swings that I posted, positions that I was in, saw some drills I was doing and then just ran from there."

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