Justin Rose trails Gary Woodland by a single shot heading into the final round of the US Open after watching the American defy the odds to remain in pole position at Pebble Beach.
Woodland chipped in for an unlikely par on the 12th and holed from 40 feet for another on the 14th, but Rose maintained his focus to birdie both holes as he seeks a second US Open title following his 2013 triumph at Merion.
Rose also birdied the 18th from a greenside bunker for the third day running to complete a 68 and finish 10 under par, with Woodland 11 under after carding three birdies and a solitary bogey in his 69.
“What I was pleased about was the tougher the shot, the better I seemed to play, and I’ll gain a bit of confidence from that tomorrow,” Rose said.
“I’ll do everything I can overnight and just keep what’s working well and try to hit one or two more fairways and greens. You can’t force it, you’ve got to let it happen and hopefully rely on some experience.”
World number one Brooks Koepka, who is aiming to become just the second player to win three consecutive US Open titles, is four shots off the lead alongside former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and American Chez Reavie, with Rory McIlroy another stroke back.
“Going into tomorrow, just stay patient. If you are within three shots on the back nine, anything can happen, so hang in there and keep fighting.”
McIlroy had wanted to plot a “boring” course to a second US Open title and got largely what he wished for, carding three birdies and two bogeys in a round of 70.
“Even though I’m still a few off the lead, it’s a wonderful opportunity for me to go out there and I guess try to add to my major tally,” said the Northern Irishman, whose last major victory was the 2014 US PGA Championship.
“I’ve been very pleased with how I’ve played all week. I felt, for the most part, today I did the right things and I need to do 18 more holes of that, but just get a little bit more out of the round tomorrow than I did today.
“I’m expecting the conditions to be similar, but I could see the course just getting a little firmer and a little faster and just being a touch trickier.”
The European quintet of Danny Willett, 2010 champion Graeme McDowell, Jon Rahm, Matt Wallace and Henrik Stenson are seven shots off the lead on four under.
Willett had set the early clubhouse target on four under, the former Masters champion carding six birdies and two bogeys in a round of 67, the lowest round of the day and his first sub-par round in 16 attempts at the US Open.
“The last few years the US Open has been a bombers’ paradise so this course evens out the field in that way,” Willett said.
“It does not favour any one type of player, so at the end of the week you are going to get the best player winning, as it should be.”
McDowell, who eagled the 18th from 35 feet in his round of 70, said: “It was really cool to make three there.
“I think Tiger (Woods) did something similar in 2010, from memory, hitting that three-wood from behind the tree. Mine wasn’t as fancy as that. It was a nice little cutty three-wood from 245 slightly to the right and came off nicely.
“Obviously I’m somewhat in the mix tomorrow, but I’ll need something pretty special.”
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Tiger Woods made no attempt to hide his frustration after two late bogeys left him seven shots behind clubhouse leader Justin Rose in the US Open.
Woods was on course for a first bogey-free round in any US Open since his closing 67 sealed a record 15-shot win at Pebble Beach in 2000 when he carded one birdie and 15 pars in his first 16 holes on Friday.
However, the 43-year-old then dropped shots on the eighth and ninth to card a highly disappointing 72 and leave himself with an uphill task over the weekend to claim a 16th major title.
Asked afterwards if he was “steaming”, Woods told reporters: “Yeah, I am. Not a very good finish. Yeah, I’m a little hot right now. I just signed my card about a minute ago. So need a little time to cool down a little bit.
“I had a couple of opportunities there but overall I kept leaving myself above the hole. And unlike yesterday, when I missed it I missed in the correct spots below the hole, today I never had that many looks from below the hole. And the one I did have I made at 11.”
Despite the poor finish Woods has not given up hope of adding a fourth US Open victory to the Masters title he won at Augusta National in April.
“Right now I’m still in the ball game,” he added. “There’s so many guys with a chance to win. We’ve got a long way to go, and, you know, we’ll see how it shapes up for tomorrow.
“The golf course can be a little bit faster, a little bit more springy than it was today, and scores will continue to back up a little bit.
“They’ve got it (the course) right where they want it. It’s just a matter of how much will it dry out from morning to afternoon. The fairways were a bit slow and soft. I don’t think they put mowers on them this morning.
“And the short areas, the run-ups, man, they’re firm. So if they get the greens anywhere like that, it will be a hell of a test.”
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A vintage display of putting prowess kept Tiger Woods in the hunt for a 16th major title, but it was playing partner Justin Rose who surged into the lead after the first round of the 119th US Open.
Rose, who won the title at Merion in 2013, birdied his last three holes to card an opening six-under-par 65, equalling the lowest round ever in a US Open at Pebble Beach set by Woods on his way to a record 15-shot victory in 2000.
Woods was nowhere near that kind of form but the Masters champion scrambled superbly and single-putted 11 greens to card a 70, the same score he posted in the first round at Augusta National in April.
Rose enjoyed a one-shot lead over former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen and the American trio of Rickie Fowler, Xander Schauffele and Aaron Wise, with Rory McIlroy, Henrik Stenson and Francesco Molinari part of an eight-strong group on three under.
“The only reason I knew my putt on the last was to match Tiger’s score is that Rickie had that putt earlier and I was watching some of the (television) coverage,” Rose said. “I thought this would be kind of cool doing this in front of the great man himself.”
Tweet of the day
The Guardian’s Ewan Murray reacts to a wild tee shot from Tiger Woods on the fifth, which would lead to a double bogey
Quote of the day
Jordan Spieth is furious with caddie Michael Greller after driving through the fairway on the eighth and then hitting his approach over the green
Shot of the day
Rory Sabbatini was one over par for the day before producing a perfect tee shot on the 202-yard 12th, his ball bouncing twice before plunging into the hole.
Round of the day
Justin Rose insisted the only thing he did well was scramble, but the 2013 champion carded an eagle, five birdies and a solitary bogey to equal the lowest round in a US Open at Pebble Beach.
Statistic of the day
Tiger Woods ranked 121st in strokes gained approaching the green but fourth in strokes gained putting.
Rose was one of eight players to make an eagle on the 518-yard par-five sixth hole, which also offered up 67 birdies for a scoring average of 4.628.
The 493-yard 10th hole played as the toughest with 64 bogeys and eight double bogeys, although England’s Callum Tarren did record the only eagle when he holed his approach from a fairway bunker.
On the up
Chances of the USGA deciding to turn off the sprinklers after 39 players took advantage of unusually soft greens to break par in the opening round.
On the slide
Possibly Michael Greller’s job prospects after Jordan Spieth audibly blamed his caddie for hitting his drive on the eighth over a cliff and then hitting his approach over the green.
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