USGA apologizes for unfair course in 3rd round of US Open

USGA apologizes for unfair course in 3rd round of US Open

After a sun-cooked, wind-whipped day that strained the greens and stressed the players in the third-round of the 118th U.S. Open, everyone was talking about the course conditions. Masters champ Patrick Reed's hopes for a second consecutive major remain very much possible, as he sits only three strokes behind Berger, Finau, Dustin Johnson and defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka.

The U.S. Open is traditionally the toughest test in golf, but this iteration has drawn ire from almost everyone who has played it (or sat in hours of traffic trying to reach it).

When he entered the 17th hole he held a one-stroke lead over Daniel Berger and Tony Finau, who shot four-under and had been in the clubhouse for, well, a long time.

Of the past champions within five shots of the lead, five of them are U.S. Open winners, with four winning in the last six years. But after a three-putt on the 18th, Johnson had dropped back to three-over and tied with Berger, Finau and Koepka.

"I was saying to the guys out there, from yesterday afternoon, I played late, and it was calm and obviously from the rain previous in the day, we were struggling to get putts to the hole yesterday afternoon". Rose won the '13 U.S. Open at Merion with Hogan-esque ball-striking. "We've all been asking for a real U.S. Open again".

"You don't get mulligans in business at this level", tweeted British golfer Ian Poulter Saturday night. Henrik Stenson (74) made the turn at 1 under and shot 40 on the back nine.

Mickelson downplayed the controversy and offered a limp apology to reporters."If someone is offended I apologise, but toughen up, " he said.

"You were seeing shots that were well played and not rewarded", Davis said.

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Known as one of the best iron players in the game, Justin Rose was wayward with his approach shots Saturday, hitting only six of 18 greens.

The U.S. Open is built on difficulty. "I expected it to be a hard week, and I guess it's lived up to those expectations and beyond".

Mickelson's incident occurred on the 13 green, where he faced a downhill putt of eight metres for bogey.

With the two-stroke penalty Mickelson took a sextuple bogey 10. The greens are still holding up except for a few spots. Johnson was in a four-way tie for the lead at 3-over 213, the highest 54-hole score to lead the US Open since the fabled "Massacre at Winged Foot" in 1974.

Johnson didn't have anything that wild, rather more of a slow bleed that began with a shot off a sandy path and three putts on the par-3 second hole for his first double bogey of the championship.

Playing partner Andrew Johnston called it a "moment of madness" but Mickelson, a five-time major champion celebrating his 48th birthday on Saturday, insisted it wasn't just a display of petulance. "I know it's a two-shot penalty".

"When it goes over the edge, pars feel like birdies and bogeys feel like pars".

Kiradech Aphibarnrat had the only other round under par. He goes into the final round just three shots out of the lead.

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