US Open: Stage set for thrilling Sunday shoot-out

Gary Woodland

ROUND 3 - LEADERBOARD

-11 Gary Woodland; -10 Justin Rose; -7 Brooks Koepka, Chez Reavie, Louis Oosthuizen; -6 Rory McIlroy; -5 Matt Kuchar, Chesson Hadley; -4 Danny Willett, Graeme McDowell, Jon Rahm, Henrik Stenson, Matt Wallace SELECTED OTHERS -3 Adam Scott; -2 Francesco Molinari, Dustin Johnson; E Tiger Woods; +1 Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Sergio Garcia; +3 Phil Mickelson

Gary Woodland leads by one shot from Justin Rose, with an all-star chasing pack gathering behind them, going into the final round of the 2019 US Open at Pebble Beach.

Seeking to win his first major, Woodland, 35, led by two at the start of the third day and, at one stage, had increased his advantage to four. However, a back nine rally by 2013 US Open champion Rose - capped by a birdie on the last - helped him to ramp up the pressure on his playing partner and, arguably, seize the momentum going into the final round.

However, that's not to suggest it's a two-horse race. Far from it.

Back-to-back champion Brooks Koepka is just four shots off the lead in a three-way tie for third with Chez Reavie and former Open champ Louis Oosthuizen, with Rory McIlroy a further shot adrift on six-under. 

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There are, in fact, 13 players within seven shots of the lead - seven of them major champions.

However, if that's supposed to spook Woodland, it's not working.

Gary Woodland 2

"I played probably a little better than my score reflected today," he said. "I hit some good putts that didn’t go in but I’m happy with where I’m at. I’m playing good and looking forward to tomorrow.

"I’m excited about where my game is. I’m very comfortable on this golf course. I’m comfortable with all aspects of the game right now, so tomorrow should be a fun day."

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Justin Rose, meanwhile, reckons he has still to find his stride at Pebble Beach this week, despite being ten-under-par and just one shot off the lead with a round to go.

"I haven’t had my A-game all week," said the Englishman. "I think the pins were pretty generous today. Tomorrow, they might be tougher, so you’ll need to be at your best.

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As for Brooks Koepka, he enters Sunday knowing that a win would see him become the first player since Scotland's Willie Anderson in 1905 to win the US Open three years on the spin. 

He would also become only the fourth player to win at least five majors before turning 30, joining Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Bobby Jones. 

Rory Mc Ilroy

For Rory McIlroy, Saturday must class as an opportunity missed. 

The Northern Irishman started the day four back and ended it a shot further adrift as he looks to win his first major championship in almost five years.

Still, he's confident that he can still be the man holding the trophy come Sunday evening.

"I played well, I did what I wanted to," said the 30-year-old. "I hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens, gave myself chances. For the quality of golf that I played, I don’t feel I got as much out of it as I could have but it’s another under-par round and I’m still right there.

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Phil Mickelson Pebble

Masters champion Tiger Woods is all but out of it after an erratic 71 left him at even-par for the tournament, whilst Phil Mickelson’s hopes of completing the career grand slam may have ended once and for all on the 18th.

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Mickelson, who needs a US Open victory to become just the sixth golfer to win all four of the game’s biggest events, carded a costly triple-bogey eight to fall back to three-over and into a tie for 48th.

“I'll come out tomorrow and play as well as I can,” said the left-hander, who turns 49 on Sunday. “But today was the day I needed to go low. I played well enough to do it. I had many opportunities. I just didn't putt well.”

Stat of the Day

Brooks Koepka’s 68 on Saturday was his eighth bogey-free round in major championships since the beginning of 2015 – the most of any player in that span.

He said it…

“Come play it for yourself.”

Rory McIlroy's message to people who think that the course has been set up too easy this week.

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