Playing 18 holes on the final day of the U.S. Open is challenging. Now, add three to five holes for the players atop the leaderboard and navigating the unforgiving Oakmont Country Club course could get downright exhausting, and even terrifying for some.
That is the task facing many of the golfers in the final day of the season’s second major as the tournament continues to catch up after Thursday’s stormy start.
Play was suspended just before 9 p.m. with 28 golfers still on the course including the top 5 on the leaderboard. They will resume play at 7 a.m. to complete their third round before starting the final round.
“I would imagine it’s going to be quite difficult,” Dustin Johnson said.
Shane Lowry is the leader at 5-under after 14 holes, two strokes better than Andrew Landry, who has completed 13. Johnson, who led after two rounds with a 4-under, is 2-over for the round through 13, tied with Lee Westwood (through 15) and Sergio Garcia (through 14) at 2-under for the tournament.
Johnson had one bogey through the first three rounds. He had two bogeys and a double during an eight-hole stretch on Saturday.
“I had a lot of good putts that just didn’t go in the hole,” he said. “That’s this golf course, it’s tough to make putts.
“I’m still feeling good where I’m at.”
At one point during the third round, Johnson, Lowry, Landry and Garcia sat tied atop the leaderboard at 3-under after Johnson bogeyed No. 6.
For Lowry, the lead could have been bigger but the Irishman called a one-stroke penalty on himself during his second round early Saturday. Lowry’s ball moved after he addressed it on the 16th hole, his seventh hole of the round.
“It’s very frustrating in a tournament like that,” he said.
Lowry, 29, is playing in his 14th major, having missed the cut six times, including twice in his three previous U.S. Opens. His highest finish in a major: Ninth in the 2014 British Open and 2015 U.S. Open.
“My game is good I feel very comfortable out there,” he said. “This is right where you want to be.”
Lowry and Johnson took different approaches to play being suspended.
Lowry was happy he didn’t have finish his final four holes after playing 18 holes in the morning. “I was getting tired toward the end,” he said. “If I had to play another four holes it would have been quite difficult.”
Johnson played 36 holes on Friday and would have rather gotten in his round Saturday. “It’s a short night and who knows what time we’ll tee off in the afternoon,” he said.’
The second round was not completed until about 2:30 p.m., at which time three of the world’s greatest golfers were packing their bags after failing to make the cut, which was set at 6-under.
Phil Mickelson, who admits that winning a U.S. Open _ the only major that has eluded him _ would cap his career, missed the cut by one stroke. But he was closer than playing partners Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler, the world’s third- and fifth-ranked golfers, who both shot 40 in their back nine to miss the cut with McIlroy 8-over and Fowler an ugly 11-over.
The last time Mickelson missed a cut at the U.S. Open was in 2007 at Oakmont. He had to come back to finish the final three holes of the second round Saturday. Fowler and McIlroy played their entire second round Saturday morning.
Fowler, who started at No. 10, blew up on his back nine. He bogeyed No. 1 before four-putting the par-3 No. 6 for a double bogey and bogeying Nos. 7 and 8.
“The biggest thing for me, I got to get the ball in play off the tee,” said Fowler, who still is in search of his first major title. “That was the biggest thing for me this week. Give myself a chance.”
McIlroy just needed a par on No. 9 to make the cut. But he finished with double bogey. He appeared to have recovered from a 7-over on the opening round, shooting a 31 on his front nine. But he then had two doubles and a bogey on his final seven holes.