In one of the most shambolic rounds in the history of golf on Saturday, the US Open became a farce. Much can be said about what happened at Shinnecock Hills in the third round, but the fact that Dustin Johnson, who led coming into the day and was ahead by four strokes at one point shot a 77 and still holds a share of the lead says just about everything you need to know. The American, who has played on his fair share of tough courses, like Pebble Beach in the Open a few years ago, really didn’t even play that badly.
Instead, his +7 score comes down to one thing: the course being poorly maintained. Some will look at players that went out early in the round that did well (Tony Finau and Daniel Berger at -4 after shooting a pair of 66s) and declare that the course wasn’t set up badly. But that was very early on. As the day progressed and the moisture came out of the greens, it became impossible. So much so that the leader coming into the day, I repeat, shot a 77 and still holds a share of the lead at +3 along with Finau and Berger, as well as last year’s winner Brooks Koepka. The last one mentioned won his US Open in totally different circumstances, blazing Erin Hills last year, leading many to token ‘blame’ him for this.
Many players putted the ball off the greens because they were just too fast. Johnson, one of the strongest players in the game, hit the ball into the rough and instantly decided to play sideways. He still almost didn’t make it the required 10-15 yards… Phil Mickelson, one of the game’s greatest and most famous players, decided to hit a moving ball and incur a two stroke penalty just to stop it from going down a hill and off the green. This is just an example of what happened, and it has many players very angry.
Folks will opine that everyone has to play the course, and that it is the same. Yes but no. If everyone could play the earliest tee time it would be. Finau and Berger got huge advantages from going out early, and though they will play very late in the day on Sunday, they will have a chance to win due to that advantage. With winds up and the greens dry and fast, no one had a shot. Golf should be hard, even for the best, but Saturday was outrageous and will have done little to grow the sport, especially after favorites like Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth failed to even make the cut!