June16 USOpenhome


Saturday is always said to be moving day in a major championship, but nothing much changed at Oakmont in the 3rd round. It was hot again (85 degrees), there were huge crowds, there were nearly twice as many bogeys (337) as birdies (125) and the USGA grinned in their blue blazers at the thought of their course beating up the best players in the world.

Just like the first two days there were only two rounds under par – Tiger Woods 69 and Steve Stricker 68. What makes tomorrow so exciting though is this place is all about damage limitation. It doesn’t matter that the deeply religious Aaron Baddeley has a two-shot lead over the field. That can easily go in one hole. It doesn’t matter that Tiger is lurking just off the lead in the final group (just where he likes to be) because even he can have a train crash on this course. It doesn’t take much. There are 16 players within six shots of the lead, and every one of them will be fancying their chances in the final round.

Two of those players are Englishmen, and Paul Casey and Justin Rose have a terrific chance of making history. What’s more, it will suit them that they are not paired with the world number one. Although every player in the world will tell you they love playing with Tiger Woods, statistics don’t bear them out. That may not be such good news for Baddeley, who was born in America (and so has a dual passport) but plays for Australia.

“I love playing with Tiger,” he told a packed press conference, after his third round. “He is very courteous and when you hit a good shot he tells you so.” Mmmm. We will see.

Woods moved through the field in that stealthy way he tends to on Saturdays. He hit every single green except the final one in regulation, missed a handful of birdie putts and finished with a 1-under-par 69. He made birdies on the 3rd and 4th holes, and then made pars on every hole until the last which he bogeyed. You could tell by the way he tapped in at the last with splayed legs a la Arnie Palmer that he was pleased with his day, but annoyed with his bogey. Asked why he did this, he was succinct. “I was pissed,” he said (meaning terribly frustrated rather than merry on Jack Daniels).

And so, with one round to play the leaderboard reads:
212 (+2) Aaron Baddeley 72, 70, 70
214 (+4) Tiger Woods 71, 74, 69
215 (+5) Paul Casey 77, 66, 72
215 (+5) Stephen Ames 73, 69, 73
215 (+5) Justin Rose 71, 71, 73
215 (+5) Bubba Watson 70, 71, 74
216 (+6) Steve stricker 75, 73, 68
216 (+6) Jim Furyk 71, 75, 70
216 (+6) Angel Cabrera 69, 71, 76
217 (+7) Stuart Appleby 74, 72, 71
217 (+7) David Toms 72, 72, 73
217 (+7) Niclas Fasth 71, 71, 75

Other European scores:
Nick Dougherty 68, 77, 74 219 (+9)
Carl Petterson 72, 72, 75 219 (+9)
Graeme McDowell 73, 72, 75 220 (+10)
Ian Poulter 72, 77, 72 221 (+11)
Peter Hanson 71, 74, 78 223 (+13)
Pablo Martin 71, 76, 77 224 (+14)
Jose Maria Olazabal 70, 78, 78 226 (+16)
Lee Westwood 72, 75, 79 226 (+16)
Kenneth Ferrie 74, 76, 77 227 (+17)
Anders Hansen 71, 79, 79 229 (+19)

Final day tee times (local time - add five hours for UK time)
3.00 Tiger Woods and Aaron Baddeley
2.50 Paul Casey and Stephen Ames
2.40 Justin Rose and Bubba Watson
2.30 Jim Furyk and Steve Stricker
2.20 Stuart Appleby and Angel Cabrera
2.10 Niclas Fasth and David Toms