Torrey Pines South Court fought back in the afternoon and matched the actions. The two unexpected leaders after the first 36 holes, Russell Henley and Richard Bland, who started the third lap at -5, had mixed luck. Henley was solid and every time he failed he did it on the bright side. He remained calm and although he did not play very well, he managed to defend his number with a valuable court pair, which helped him to remain tied for the lead, now with two other rivals, the Canadian Mackensie Hughes and one much more fearsome, the South African Louis Oosthuizen.
The Englishman Bland, in the antipodes, had a good start, but in the second 9 holes he gradually fell apart on an ungrateful course. How cruel can golf be. And it is even more cruel when the agony with which he subdues his victims is slow and painful as was Bland’s. The more forgiving would be a couple of double bogeys in a row to quickly sacrifice the chances of a condemned man. But it was not the case. Bogey after bogey, that was torture for the English veteran. The emotional story of effort and hope ended for Bland with considerable suffering in the third round of this US Open. He signed a card with 77 strokes (+6) that left him relegated to 21st with +1. Maybe in the last round, without the pressure and without the spotlight, get back to playing his good golf and end up making a great round. That’s how mysterious this sport is.
And while the drama unfolded in the last outing, ahead, some of the most brilliant stars in world golf were weaving together scores that brought them closer to the top to make the definition of this 121st edition of the US Open absolutely unpredictable. There are no less than 20 players with a chance to lift the trophy.
To those already named that go -5, Henley, Hughes and Oosthuizen, notable surnames are added such as McIlroy (-3), DeChambeau (-3), Scheffler (-2), Rahm (-2), Wolff (-2), Johnson (-1), Morikawa (-1), Schauffele (-1), Casey (even), Poulter (even), Molinari (even), Koepka (even), Thomas (even). They all add up to no less than 16 Majors, and one more will be added at the end of the day.
Among the outstanding laps of the day we must mention that of Rory McIlroy. Because when you see a great golfer doing what he’s supposed to do, everything seems to fall into place. It’s somehow reassuring to see Rory playing Rory. Especially when it hasn’t happened for so long. The last Major McIlroy won was the PGA Championship in 2014. Seven years passed. It seems like a mistake. And that’s why McIlroy desperately wants to win this week. He has already won the US Open once, and this Saturday was the 10th anniversary of that tremendous Congressional victory, with a record score of -16. Rory was only 22 at the time and it seemed inevitable that he would take the world ahead. And in this third round at Torrey Pines, Rory was once again the young man golf was waiting to replace Tiger Woods. In this third round, as he built his big round, his pass was different, he even seemed taller. Thus, with authority he scored a score of 67 strokes (-4) that left him tied for fourth place with -3. The culminating moment may have been when he hit a very fine balloon high from the edge of the 12th green or on the next hole, par 5 of the 13th, when he broke the fairway with his drive and from 260 yards he played a wood that his caddy Harry Diamond qualified as the best shot he hit of the year. The ball flew high and went straight into the hole, so much so that it hit the flagpole. Two birdie putts and Rory was Rory again. The only mistake of the day was when he misfired his left drive on the 15th hole. He had to drop, but ended up making a valuable bogey that liked a birdie, and he celebrated it. It would be great for golf if Rory McIlroy won this Major.
Another round to highlight was Bryson DeChambeau. And not only because it was good, but also because it was announced. “The Scientist” said it before starting: “I dreamed something that made me see the light. My golf is between 9 and 9.5 points. ” So it was. His drives were missiles and his irons to the greens, accurate darts. His putts were very correct and although he left on the line and cut a couple of balls for birdie, he was able to hole another three and as many to save the pair. Thus he ended up making 68 strokes (-3) without a single bogey. Add -3 in total and tie for fourth place.
Dustin Johnson finally got a good, solid lap in a Major this year. Four birdies and a bogey for a very important 68. With that score, the already winner of the US Open (2016) and the Masters (2020), placed ninth with -1.
It was also great what was done by one of the leaders, Canadian Mackensie Hughes, who played great golf to score a 68 (-3). He had to work hard to achieve it as he made three birdies, an eagle (hole 13, par 5) and two bogeys. Anyway, the Ontario native climbed to the top of the board.
Among the three Latin Americans who managed to pass the qualifying cut, the Chilean Joaquín Niemann is the best placed in 29th place with +2. Niemann made par for the court (71) with five birdies and five bogeys. The Venezuelan Jhonattan Vegas finished the third round in 74 strokes (+3) and adds five over the pair that places him in 45th place. The return of the Argentine Fabián Gómez was not good. The Chaco fought against the field but could not bend it. He ended up scoring 78 hits (+7) in the third round for a total of +11.
Nothing beats the prospect of a final open-ended Major day. Sitting down to watch it is a great program for a Sunday afternoon. All set in Torrey Pines, San Diego, for a great show that will end up crowning the 2021 US Open champion.