Wednesday, March 29, 2023

US Open waxing host entertains a promising upstart

Brookline, Mass. — The US Open usually waits until the final day of its 72-hole crucible to play with the world’s best golfers. But perhaps in homage to this year’s host’s venerable history, the dire conditions — strong winds, thick rough and brisk greens — began to crush the will and sink the players’ souls 24 hours earlier at the country club outside Boston.

With a low score a rarity, the top of Saturday’s third-round leaderboard was changed repeatedly. In the end, some of this year’s hottest golfers remain in contention, joining some lesser-known names in what figures to be an entertaining final-round slugfest against a golf course called co-leaders, Will Zalatoris. A complete beast”.

Zalatoris’ scheduled round of 67, which was Saturday’s lowest, left him four-under par for the championship, leveling with England’s Matthew Fitzpatrick, who scored a two-under par 68. Defending US Open champion Jon Rahm took the lead late in the round falling one stroke behind Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick.

Rahm started faltering in his first 13 holes and made three birdies from the 14th to the 17th hole. This moved him to five-under par for the championship.

But Rahm’s drive from the 18th tee collapsed into a bunker on the left side of the fairway. Rahm’s first attempt to clear the bunker’s high lip failed, and his ball rolled back into the sand. His next shot fell into the easily accessible 18th hole front bunker. A combination of mistakes brought a messy end to Rahm’s round: a double bogey that dropped him into third.

Later, Rahm said that he miscalculated how deep his golf ball was in the sand, as it was getting dark.

“I had a 9-iron on hand, it’s a lot to get that lip on,” he said. “Maybe I was trying to be too cute – looking for another birdie.

“But it doesn’t really matter much,” Rahm said. I am satisfied with where I am and the way I played.

Three golfers were tied for fourth on two-under par, including Keegan Bradley, a Vermont native, who was thoroughly cheered on by the New England crowd as they walked down the 18th fairway on Saturday. Canada’s Adam Hadwin, ranked 105th in the men’s world golf rankings, scored 70 to level Bradley. Defending Masters Champion Scotty Scheffler joined the group after a chaotic, inconsistent round.

Zalatoris was one of the few who rarely struggled on Saturday, with four birdies and only one bogey. Even as he cut his last tee shot of the day 35 yards to the right of the 18th fairway, he landed in an aisle between a grandstand and another temporary structure.

However, at 224 yards from the hole, he had enough opening to lace a precision long iron into the famous, huge bunker guarding the 18th green. From there, Zalatoris splashed a spinning, grueling shot out of the sand and then sank a six-foot saving put.

Although Zalatoris is just 25 years old, he is playing in his ninth major golf championship and has already fought for the legacy-defining title several times. Last month, he lost the PGA Championship playoff against Justin Thomas, and he finished second in the 2021 Masters Tournament. He also finished sixth at this year’s Masters and the 2020 US Open.

Narrow defeats in the big companies haven’t demoralized Zalatoris.

“I know I’m going to get one,” he said after this year’s PGA Championship. “it’s just a matter of time.”

But Zalatoris knows that the country club’s fight against the devil will not be won by decades-old challenges, only survives.

“It takes so much discipline and patience on the golf course,” he said on Saturday evening. “That was the toughest golf course I’ve ever played. It’s so easy to compound mistakes here. Sure, you can do it in major championships in general, but this one in particular.”

Zalatoris paused for a while, nodded, then repeated: “Especially this one.”

Matching Zalatoris with a strong back nine was Fitzpatrick, who won the 2013 US Amateur at Country Club. Fitzpatrick, who was second to enter the fourth round of the PGA Championship last month, scored his first hole on Saturday but shot three-under for the rest of his round.

Fitzpatrick, who is ranked 27th and 18th worldwide, also found himself in the huge bunker in front of the 18th green late in the third round. He had another hard lie and had to settle for bogey.

With almost two hours left in the third round, it appeared that Scheffler, who is ranked No. 1, was going to take the leading edge in the final round. Thanks to an eagle from 102 yards on the par-5 eighth hole, Schaeffler was three-under par and six-under par through hole 10 for the tournament.

But Scheffler’s tee shot short, downhill par-3 on the 11th hole, flew into a danger over the green. A sticky chip and a second dice pitch, traversed 25 feet below the hole, lead to a double bogey. Two flubbed chips on the next hole cost Scheffler the equivalent of another stroke. Arguably, it became the first of three consecutive bogeys that saw Scheffler fall from his perch at the top of the leaderboard.

Only two golfers managed to qualify for this weekend’s final two rounds at the ground playing last week’s inaugural LIV golf event. Dustin Johnson scored 71 in one over on Saturday and that is the equivalent of two overs for the tournament. Richard Bland made 72 on Saturday and has four overs for the championship.

The other 11 LIV Series golfers who went home after the opening two rounds were a combined 83-over par, the futility highlighted by Phil Mickelson’s 11-over-par finish, though Louis Osthuizen’s six-over equal was also lousy.

While Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed have yet to play a LIV golf event, they have committed to the series. Both have been falling steadily in the world rankings and their performance this week will not reverse that trend. DeChambeau scored 76 on Saturday and it is now eight overs for the competition. Reid scored 75 runs and has six overs for the tournament.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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