SAN DIEGO — The eagle putts appeared acquainted for a Saturday at Torrey Pines in June, even with Tiger Woods nowhere in sight.
Mackenzie Hughes watched his 60-foot eagle putt from the again of the inexperienced to the entrance on the par-5 thirteenth slide into the cup. Louis Oosthuizen may solely hope his 50-foot eagle putt on the 18th discovered the middle of the cup, and it kissed off the pin and disappeared.
Woods made eagle putts from one finish of the inexperienced to the opposite on the thirteenth and 18th holes in 2008 that set the stage for a Sunday stuffed with anticipation.
Abruptly, this U.S. Open has that acquainted really feel.
A serious that for 2 days had the sleepy, chill vibe of San Diego now has an urgency for Oosthuizen and Rory McIlroy attempting to finish lengthy droughts, hope for newcomers like Hughes and Russell Henley, and a half-dozen different prospects that embody Bryson DeChambeau and Jon Rahm.
“It is a golf course the place something can occur,” mentioned Oosthuizen, within the combine at a significant for the second straight time. “It is only a robust, old school golf course. You are going to have by no means. You are going to really feel it. It is about how you are going to deal with it.”
Hughes added a closing birdie for a 3-under 68 and was the primary to get to 5-under 208. Oosthuizen made a 30-foot birdie putt on the sixteenth and ended his spherical of 70 with the 50-foot eagle on the 18th to affix him.
They had been tied with Henley, who had a 2-shot lead early on the again 9 and seemed to be hanging on for pricey life on the finish. He went from the bunker to the tough to the bunker on the best gap at Torrey Pines and needed to make an 8-foot par putt for a 71.
McIlroy (67) and DeChambeau (68) had been 2 pictures behind.
McIlroy has gone seven years and not using a main, a drought accentuated by not often even having respectable probabilities. DeChambeau can get the final chortle in his beef with Brooks Koepka by becoming a member of him as a back-to-back U.S. Open champion.
“I assumed like two 68s over the weekend from the place I used to be after Friday was going to have a superb probability,” mentioned McIlroy, who began the third spherical 6 pictures behind. “I’ve performed the primary a part of that job. Now it is as much as me tomorrow to exit and attempt to play an analogous spherical of golf.”
Woods is recovering from his February automotive crash that badly injured his legs and isn’t again at Torrey Pines. In his absence, the printed used each alternative to relive reminiscences of his two eagles that gave him the 54-hole lead.
It took two gamers to try this this time, nevertheless it was equally spectacular.
“I do know Tiger’s was additional proper, however midway there, I beloved it,” Hughes mentioned. “The cost that goes by way of your physique when the ball goes within the gap and the group erupts is why we play. It offers me goosebumps now desirous about it.”
And he’ll have loads of nerves Sunday enjoying within the closing group with Oosthuizen, who has had 5 runner-up finishes within the majors — two in playoffs — since successful the 2010 British Open at St. Andrews.
Henley holed a bunker shot on the par-3 eleventh for birdie for a 2-shot lead and made a fantastic par save from the cabbage behind he twelfth inexperienced. However he confirmed indicators of cracking during the last hour, dropping pictures on the fifteenth and having to flee with par on No. 18.
13 gamers remained underneath par going into the ultimate spherical. Eight gamers had been separated by 3 pictures on a troublesome course which may not be as accessible because it was Saturday, when all three par 5s had been set as much as be reachable in 2.
McIlroy did his finest work to avoid wasting bogey. He ran off three birdies in 4 holes to start out the again 9, solely to tug his tee shot right into a ravine. He took a penalty drop as an alternative of going into the ravine — a good move contemplating tv confirmed a big rattlesnake within the space — and restricted the injury to a bogey.
A birdie on the 18th for a 67, matching the low rating of the week, gave him an opportunity to win a significant for the primary time for the reason that 2014 PGA Championship.
“That is the one match on the planet the place you fist-pump a bogey,” McIlroy mentioned. “Solely dropping one there was an enormous deal, and getting it up-and-down out of the bunker on 16 and making that birdie on 18 simply to get that shot again that I misplaced, actually massive.”
DeChambeau performed it massive too, going with driver nearly in all places and lacking some fairways by such a large margin that he had good lies in fan-trampled grass.
It led to his first time in 67 rounds on the majors and not using a bogey on his card, and his 68 gave him an opportunity to affix Koepka and Curtis Strange as the one back-to-back Open winners prior to now 50 years.
“You have to be actually affected person out right here at these majors,” DeChambeau mentioned. “It is one thing that’s not simple to do. I really feel like I am beginning to perceive main championship golf and learn how to play it and learn how to go about managing my sport, my perspective and simply my endurance stage. If I can proceed to try this tomorrow, I feel I am going to have a superb probability.”
Koepka, in the meantime, was amongst those that misplaced a superb alternative. He shot 71 and was solely 5 pictures behind, however with 13 gamers forward of him.
Dustin Johnson shot a 68 and was amongst these at 1-under 212, 4 pictures behind and really a lot within the sport on this main and on this golf course.