A tuck stand that offered endless possibilities on move day to the US Open was even more crowded at the top in the closing stages of Saturday’s third round.
Louis Oosthuizen landed a 30-foot putt for the eagle on the 18th green, shortly after sinking a 30-foot birdie on the 16th, to qualify for a three-way tie for the 54-hole lead to the field Torrey Pines Golf Course alongside Canadian Mackenzie. Hughes and Russell Henley from the United States and setting the stage for some big drama on Sunday afternoon.
Hughes, the 30-year-old Canadian who entered the tournament on a streak of four missed cuts, jumped onto the board after draining a 63-foot eagle putt on the par-five 13th before climbing up and down a bunker the 18th for a three-under-68 card for the day.
Henley, the 32-year-old Georgian who has won three PGA Tour titles but none since 2017, came out in Saturday’s final group and largely withstood the pressure of the lead halfway through, mixing up four birdies with four bogeys for an even par 71 to stay five cents and in line.
Eighteen players started the day within five strokes of surprise midway leaders Henley and Richard Bland and it didn’t take long for household names to pay their price, including Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau.
Ten years to the day he beat his first major championship with an eight-stroke victory at the 2011 US Open in Congress, McIlroy opened the last nine with three birdies in four holes and saved a bogey after flaying a drive in the gaping barranca that separates the North and South Courts.
After saving the par from a bunker on the green on the 16th, McIlroy parried on the 17th, then birdieed on the 18 par five to tie the low round of the tournament with a 67 under four.
“This is the only tournament in the world where you start pumping a bogey. to lose only one [on the 15th] was a big deal, and getting him up and down the bunker on the 16th and birdie on the 18th just to get that shot I lost. Really big. “
He added, “Twenty-one looked like a walk in the park compared to that. You know, if I want to win another US Open trophy, I’m going to have to fight for it a little more than 10 years ago.
McIlroy was joined three under by DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open champion who drifted up to five over in Friday’s second round but managed to revive his title defense after birdies on Saturday on the first, fifth and 15th holes. He will make Sunday’s final round two strokes ahead – like last year at Winged Foot.
That he only managed to hit five of the 14 fairways was irrelevant: it was DeChambeau’s first bogey-less score in 67 career rounds in the majors.
“You have to be very patient here in these major tournaments,” said DeChambeau. “It’s something that is not easy to do. My first steps into the majors I was unsuccessful or almost unsuccessful, and I feel like I’m starting to understand Major Championship golf and how to play it and how to handle my game, my attitude and just my skill level. patience. If I can keep doing it tomorrow, I think I’ll have a good chance.
For the unannounced Bland, who won his first European Tour title on his 476th attempt last month, a storybook tournament finally took a turn south with six bogeys and no birdies for a 77, returning to one for the championship and six shots out of rhythm.
“It’s the US Open: some days he’s just going to beat you all day, and today was my day,” Bland said. “I struggled with my irons all day. I drove the ball pretty well, that’s what you need to do. I just couldn’t enjoy it and didn’t really give myself a decent birdie look.
Phil Mickelson, who became the oldest major champion of all time at the PGA Championship of the United States last month, was among the early starters after shooting a 69 in the second round to make the cut after a first round 75. The six-time US Open finalist needed something special to rekindle his hopes of finishing the career Grand Slam in his hometown, but only made one fairway out of the top nine and six over. 14 in total on the way to a 76.
Jon Rahm allowed a 72 to sit under two for the week with Scottie Scheffler (70) and Matthew Wolff (73). Former major champions Dustin Johnson (68) and Collin Morikawa (70) are among the six to one.
They will all be chasing the leaders on Sunday with plenty of chances on a course that expects to play even harder for the final round.
Oosthuizen, 38, is no stranger to first place in the rankings of all four basic professional golf tournaments: he was the 2010 Open champion and can boast of finishing second in the other three majors, including during the US PGA Championship last month.
“It’s a golf course where anything can happen,” Oosthuizen said. “There are a lot of great players up there who have a chance to win, and I just need to come out and play as well as I can tomorrow. “