U.S. Open: Four tied for the lead in very difficult course conditions

Louis Oosthuizen had an exceptional round at Saturday’s third round in the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay. He had the low round of the day, a 4-under 66 to match Friday’s round. He was one of only six players to break par. That got him to T5, 1-under for the tournament and 3 behind the four co-leaders leaders: Dustin Johnson, Branden Grace, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth.

It’s a wonder that he was able to pull that off in the face of the greens being pretty much baked out:

There’s no grass on a few of them. So it’s just dead. There’s a few holes where it doesn’t look really, really good. But it’s the same for everyone. You’ve got to stand out there and try and knock it in.

Many of the players are dismayed at the quirky condition of the course. The fairways are super hard and fast and you never quite know where your ball is going. Jordan Spieth had a “moment” on the par-5 8th hole:  

Yeah, I was appalled, was the word I used (laughter). I couldn’t place the drive any better. Patrick hit one out to the right so he missed his spot by five to ten yards. And he holds up in the fairway. And I couldn’t have landed it in a better location. I couldn’t have hit a better tee shot. I thought my ball was in the middle of the fairway and when I saw it on the right edge, I said, Mike, I don’t know how it got over the right edge. And then we walked up and it was Patrick’s. And then he was hitting in the rough and there was a clump of grass behind it. This is a joke. Right after a three-putt.

So that didn’t add to my excitement (laughter). But, yeah, I’m not sure where to hit it on 8 tomorrow. I’m just going to try to play the same shot and hope that it stays in the fairway. That’s what struck me. I was very frustrated at the time because if it’s in the fairway I’ve got a 3-iron into that green and the majority of the time that would lead to a birdie.

Dustin Johnson added to the testimony about the difficulty of the course condition:

Yeah, I thought I played really well today. Obviously the setup was very difficult. The golf course is playing really firm and fast. It’s just tough out there. I played really well today, I thought. A few three-putts. Other than that I felt like I putted it well, just missed a few short ones. I made some putts, too. But really could have been a good day today.

And South Africa’s Branden Grace alluded to it too in his summation of where he is and what his plans for Sunday are:

Like I mentioned yesterday, we all dream of this and we all practice for this, so it’s a matter of fact if you grab it or you don’t. I played really good today under the pressure. Going 1 behind going into the third round, moving day, was a tough one. I think I’m in a good frame of mind after today going into tomorrow.

Tomorrow is just going to be another tough grind. The course really firmed up towards the end and played really bouncy and tricky. They tried to catch us with a couple of holes like 15, 16, and 17. Pushing the tee boxes up so far really toughened it up. It was a tough grind. I’m just happy I’m still in a good position.

Finally, Jason Day pulled out all the stops Saturday to even play. He had an episode of vertigo on Friday that left him dazed and on the ground on the 9th hole. Somehow he managed to get up, play his bunker shot and 2-putt for bogey. Finishing the round at least gave him a chance to play on Saturday.

He was kind of shaky on the front nine, but made an incredible 5 birdies on the back with just 1 bogey. Incredible because he was still fighting the effects of the vertigo:

I didn’t feel that great coming out early, and then felt like — I felt pretty groggy on the front nine just from the drugs that I had in my system, then kind of flushed that out on the back nine. But then it kind of came back — the vertigo came back a little bit on the 13th tee box, and then felt nauseous all day. I started shaking on 16 tee box and then just tried to get it in, really. Just wanted to get it in.

He looked spent as he sat in a car ready to be whisked off. Hopefully a good night’s sleep will help him to recover his stamina for Sunday. Saturday was being generally described as heroic and was being compared to Ken Venturi’s battle with dehydration in his 1964 U.S. Open win. Beware the sick golfer.

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One Response to U.S. Open: Four tied for the lead in very difficult course conditions

  1. Lee Garcia says:

    Bill, I am in the Seattle area for part of the summer and watching on TV instead of in person. Turns out to be a good decision. Time to get from Seattle to parking 15 miles away in Tacoma and then bus into Chambers, about 2 hours, and that is before you begin walking. That would be miles of walking, not yards. Access gates to the tournament severely limited for 30,000 spectators because of security concerns. Because of topography and roping off of many of the high spots on the hills ( many falls and ankle injuries when Amateur held here) you cannot follow a group hole to hole. Large stands for the most part are your best option but even they are set quite a ways back from the action. I have been to several US Opens on the eastern courses and this experience appears to be the worst US Open fan experience I have ever seen or attended. The local resident golfers at the club I belong to in this area had next to nothing good to say about this tricked up golf course. On the other hand, this is survival of the fittest given the burned out greens, enormous distances, random bumps in fairways and greens, huge elevation changes, and the USGA would prefer nobody under par so Mike Davis is giving them what they wanted. Local sports writers for the papers have been a touch brutal.