Jun 20, 2015; University Place, WA, USA; Jason Day hits his tee shot on the 11th hole in the third round of the 2015 U.S. Open golf tournament at Chambers Bay. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Moving Day at the US Open was fun, but not for everyone. There was considerable upping and downing on the leaderboard. There were balls gone wild, hillside shots that required mountain goat stances, and putts that tantalized but wouldn’t drop.
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Jason Day made an heroic climb to the top of the board and received a standing ovation from the gallery for his birdie on the 18th and Ben Martin plummeted. With a 9 on the 8th and 8 on the 18th Martin dropped into obscurity.
Even as 1965 US Open champion Gary Player ranted about the state of the game in general — it’s in “dire straits” — and the inappropriateness of Chambers Bay in particular — it’s too long and too challenging for recreational golfers — Dustin Johnson hit every fairway, Jordan Spieth showed that he could double down and fight back, and Branden Grace delivered steady play that paid off.
Given golf’s origins and history, I didn’t think a golf course could be too long or too challenging. After all, the players aren’t dodging sheep at Chambers Bay, and the US Open Championship is supposed to be the ultimate test of skill, athleticism, and mental endurance. As I see it, Chambers Bay is doing exactly what it was designed to do: identify a national champion.
Patrick Reed’s double on the 2nd seemed to establish his tempo and by the time he made the turn the zip had drained out of him. The best he could manage on the second nine was to grind it out and stop the hemorrhaging. A +6 for Moving Day sent Reed down the board.
The six amateurs who survived the cut also struggled through their third rounds. Ollie Schniederjans and Jack Maguire will both start Sunday at +4, Denny McCarthy at +5, Beau Hossler at +6; and the guy who on Friday looked like he might get into the Sunday mix, Brian Campbell, starts at a disappointing +7. At +12 Nick Hardy will continue to struggle gamely through 18 more holes and walk off 18 knowing that he’s played his first US Open through to the finish.
Weren’t there some red numbers on the board? Indeed! Louis Oosthuizen carded the low round of the day, a four-under par 66, which got him to 1-under and within 3 shots of the lead.
Given Saturday’s upping and downing, Oosthuizen, Cameron Smith, who also carded a red number (69), Shane Lowry and J.B. Holmes — all starting Sunday at one-under par — are within reach of the Championship.
Further down the board and probably beyond reach of the top at this point, Charl Schwartzel, Charlie Beljan and Ian Poulter also carded sub-par rounds of 69 and so they get honorable mention.
All told, 6 players in a field of 60 shot sub-par rounds on Saturday, an even 10%. Is Gary Player right? Is Chambers Bay too challenging? I don’t think so. I’m enjoying watching a field of champion-level players taking on a Herculean challenge.
ProGolfNow Editor Danny Norris predicted after the 1st round on Thursday in his “Five Early Impressions” that the winner would come from behind, “someone who is about three to four shots down and tees off as the fifth, sixth to last group.”