“Get up! Get up!” A well-meaning punter tries to chivvy Bland’s third along. But it’s not getting over the water. It drops apologetically a couple of yards before land. For the first time today, despite all his previous travails, the English veteran’s head drops. Henley meanwhile squirts a very nervous wedge into the bunker on the right. The tension has been palpable over these closing holes this afternoon; imagine what it’ll be like this time tomorrow!
Henley whips out of the sand … and his lay-up disappears into the thick rough down the right. So clumsy. Potentially so costly. His partner Bland is navigating the thick stuff down the other side of the hole. He’ll also be hitting his third into the green from the cabbage, with little or no chance of generating the spin required to set up a birdie chance.
Back on the tee, Henley opts to take an iron. He’s laying up whatever. He’s certainly doing that after finding sand to the right of the fairway.
The dream’s far from over for Louis Oosthuizen! He taps his eagle effort down the 18th. It oscillates this way and that, before straightening up over the last few feet and rolling unerringly into the cup! The Torrey Pines gallery breaks into one of the roars of the day! That’s whisked him into a share of the lead! He signs for a 70, having turned things around dramatically over the closing three holes! No birdie for Wolff, though, who caresses a fine chip down the green from the filth to six feet, but watches his putt hop out. He cards 73.
Henley is on the 17th in regulation. His putt is a snaky 15-foot downhill puzzle. He steers it to tap-in distance, though it never looked like dropping. No matter, par will do, and he remains in a share at -5. Bland’s nightmare continues; another bogey, and he’s level par for the tournament now. The dream, it’s fair to say, is over.
Oosthuizen sends his second at 18 over the flag from 235 yards. He’ll have a 30-foot eagle putt coming back downhill. Wolff’s second bounces hard and disappears into the thick rough at the back.
Rahm tidies up for his birdie. A very scrappy 72, but he’s only three off the lead as it stands right now. He’s -2. His partner Bubba has been to hell and back, though: he closes with two birdies, yet still cards a 77. He’s out of the picture at +3.
Wolff can’t save himself at 17. Another bogey, and he’s been a bit ragged today. He slips to -2. Par for his partner Oosthuizen, who remains at -3. Back down the hole, the co-leader Henley sends his tee shot into sand down the right. And up on 18, Rahm sends his second to Streelman Country at the back of the green. Just like Streelman before him, he judges the 60-foot roll almost to perfection. He’ll have a three-footer for a closing birdie.
Another bogey for Richard Bland, his fourth of the day, the result of failing to hit a fairly straight eight-footer at 16. He’s -1. Meanwhile up on 17, Wolff does extremely well to screech a wedge five feet past the flag. He’ll have a chance to salvage his par.
More trouble for Wolff, this time at 17. He catches a heavy contact out of a fairway bunker, and his ball, well short of the green, ends up in a divot. Up on 18, Kevin Streelman nearly drains a monster for eagle, but birdie suffices and he signs for a 72 that keeps him in red figures at -1. Hughes then rolls in his birdie putt, and it’s a 68 that brings him a share of the lead … because Henley can’t quite make his birdie putt on 16.
Hughes clips a cute bunker shot to six feet. A putt coming up to grab a share of the lead … though on 16, Henley will have a birdie putt of his own, having swished his 5-iron into the heart of the green, 20 feet from the flag.
Henley is unable to get up and down from the bunker at 15. Bogey, and his lead over Hughes is now just one. On 18, Hughes’s second only just gets over the water, ending up in the bunker to the left of the green. Morikawa made birdie from there earlier, so it’s not the worst place to be. And up on 16, birdie for Oosthuizen, and the leader board continues to evolve.
Scheffler, who had wedged his third to eight feet, is left with an uphill birdie putt. He hits it confidently, but it’s always drifting a little to the left, and horseshoes out. Just a par. He signs for a 70 and goes into Sunday at -2, currently four off Henley’s lead. Then it’s Schauffele’s turn … and he misses as well. He leaves himself a tricky three footer coming back. In it goes for par, and that’s a disappointing 72. He’s still -1, though, after two disappointing days in a row, and in the mix at a major yet again.
Scheffler finds a fairway bunker with his tee shot at 18, and is forced to lay up. No such problem for Schauffele, who crashes his second over the back of the green. He’s got a tricky chip from the thick stuff, though, downhill towards water. He lobs up carefully, landing his ball softly on the green and rolling it right-to-left down the hill towards the cup. It stops four feet short, a stunning effort from where he was.
Hughes arrows his approach at 17 straight at the flag. Ten feet short. He’s one dimple’s width away from rolling the rock into the cup for birdie. He remains in second at -4. On 15, Henley cracks his drive down the right side of the fairway, then pulls a 5-iron into the sand to the left of the green. His partner Bland sends a 4-iron into the thick grass skirting the back of the putting surface. Big up-and-downs coming up.
Birdie for Scottie Scheffler at 17 first. Then it’s Schauffele’s turn. In it goes, and they’re -2 and -1 respectively. Meanwhile on 14, Henley nearly drains a long birdie effort. One inch to the right, and he’d have a three-shot lead. But pars are always good at the US Open.
Henley isn’t making too many mistakes. His tee shot at 14 leaks into a bunker down the left, but he’s able to find the centre of the green with his second. Hughes is a couple of turns away from making a 15-foot birdie putt on 16. Up on 17, Schauffele whips his second to five feet. He’s level par right now, but if he makes that, and does something up 18, he’ll be in good nick going into tomorrow despite two bang-average days in a row.
Two putts for Bryson DeChambeau at 18. He’s not far from making his eagle putt, but it stops six inches short, and par it is. Still, that’s an excellent 68, and the defending champion will be right in the thick of it again tomorrow! Matthew Wolff, last year’s runner-up, also fancies a re-run, and does extremely well to screech a wedge close at 14, limiting the damage to bogey. Meanwhile Louis Oosthuizen can’t get up and down from greenside sand at 14 and slips backwards.
-6: Henley (13) -4: Hughes (15) -3: McIlroy (F), DeChambeau (F), Wolff (14) -2: Oosthuizen (14), Bland (13) -1: D Johnson (F), Morikawa (F), Bezuidenhout (F), Scheffler (16)
Yep, players make mistakes in the heat of battle at a US Open. Wolff sends his tee shot wide right at 14, then clips the branches of a tree with his second. The ball disappears into more thick rough. He then chunks the one coming out. Trouble here. On 13, Henley sends his second into greenside sand, and can’t get close with the splash out. No birdie at a popular par-five. And on 18, DeChambeau counts the cost of that loose lay-up, finding the green but unable to impart any spin. His ball stops 25 feet past the hole.
Rahm, running hot, races his par saver four feet past. Then misses the one coming back. He effs and jeffs in lyrical fashion, before tapping in for a double-bogey six that crashes him back to -1. Bad luck, compounded by some slapdash putting. And on 18, an error for DeChambeau, who decides to lay up … then misses the fairway with his chip out. His ball disappears into the thick stuff on the other side of the hole, and that’ll not help him to control his approach.
Morikawa gets up and down from sand at 18 for a birdie and a total of 70. He goes into the final round in red figures: -1. Justin Thomas has to settle for a 71; he’s level par. A wild drive for Rahm at 14 forces him to take some medicine by chipping back out onto the fairway; his third hits the flag, taking the spin off the ball and sending it to the back of the green. And on 18, DeChambeau pulls his drive into a bunker on the left. Big decision coming up: does he go for the green in two from there?
DeChambeau rolls carefully to tap-in distance, and he walks off 17 with a par. It’s back-to-back bogeys for Bland, though; he was always out of position on 12, and slips to -2. A two-putt birdie on the par-five 13th for Oosthuizen, who has been off his game for most of yesterday and today, but remains right in the mix at -3. And his playing partner Wolff makes birdie too, joining Hughes in second spot at -4.
Henley and Hughes take turns to get up and down from their respective tricky positions. The leading duo are up there for a reason. As is DeChambeau, who wedges high into the heart of 17, taking no chances. He’ll most likely save his par with two putts from 30 feet.
On 12, Henley can get his fairway wood to the ball, which is sitting up nicely in the filth. He whistles his second through the back of the green. He’s not far from the pin, but in more thick awfulness, so will have a tricky chip from there. On 14, Hughes can only find a greenside bunker with his second. And a huge stroke of fortune for DeChambeau on 17: his drive leaks left, takes one bounce in a penalty area, and bounds back out. He’ll still have a hard second from a thick lie, but that could have easily sailed off to the left and down a jungle-covered slope. The reigning champion allows himself a huge sigh of relief.
Hughes follows up that monster eagle putt by sending a slice into the punters down the right of 14. Henley follows his hole-out from the bunker with a flay into deep grass down the right of 12. Up on 16, DeChambeau, having sent his tee shot 15 feet short of the flag, leaves his uphill birdie effort one turn short.
Ah, here’s a better putt than that one! Mackenzie Hughes, from the fringe at the back of 13, rolls in a 60-footer for eagle! Shades of Tiger in 2008, and that’s catapulted the 30-year-old Canadian into second place! There are ten players under par at Torrey Pines. Here’s the chart rundown!
Par for Brooks Koepka on 18. It’s just a level-par 71 today for the 2017 and 2018 champion, coming back in 37, and while he’s not out of it, he’ll need something super-special tomorrow. Speaking of super-special, Bland tickles a 60-foot putt down the green from the back of 10. It nearly stops halfway along, but topples slowly over the ridge, picks up speed, and stops a couple of feet from the cup. You’ll not see many better putts this week. From the ridiculous to the sublime. He tidies up to limit the damage to bogey. He’ll not feel so bad about things after that. He slips to -3, though.
Bland pulls his tee shot at 11 into the sand on the left … then blades the bunker shot over the back of the green. Compare and contrast to Henley, who finds sand on the other side … and bundles a two-bounce splash into the cup! In for birdie! What a stunning shot! Big response needed by Bland now to limit the damage. Meanwhile up on 15, DeChambeau lands his approach 12 feet from the flag, but the ball topples back down a ridge to leave a 35-foot birdie putt. That’s awful luck. He rolls up to a couple of feet and tidies up for par.
-6: Henley (11) -4: Bland (10)
Henley wedges pin high to 15 feet at 10, but can’t make his par saver. Bland is able to get up and down from the back, though, and the gap at the top is now just one.
DeChambeau rattles in his 15-foot par saver! He remains at -3, and good luck prising his fingers from the trophy. At 16, Thomas clips his 6-iron to tap-in distance, and the 2017 PGA champ will rise to level par after a period of bang-average action. Meanwhile some trouble for the leading pair at 10. Bland sends his second over the back into the thick stuff, while Henley, having found a bunker with his tee shot, catches his second heavy and ends up well short of the dancefloor. Some important short-game stuff coming right up!