Saturday was a particularly cruel U.S. Open day at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y., where Dustin Johnson entered the third round with a four-shot lead, shot a 77 - often a score that can kill one's chances at winning a tournament - and still was left in a four-way tie for the lead.
Golfers fumed over the contrast between morning and afternoon conditions. Seven over, you know, usually is a bad score, but, I mean, with the greens the way they got this afternoon, I mean, they were very, very hard.
"On this golf course, it's patience, it's commitment, it's choosing your times to be aggressive", said Rose, who was to tee off at 2:02pm alongside Sweden's Henrik Stenson and right before Koepka and Johnson (2:13pm).
The round of the day belonged to Tommy Fleetwood.
Russell Colin of Montclair, New Jersey, ventured to the East End to capture the U.S. Open with his sons Garth, 9, and Gavin, 5. That got him within one shot of Koepka, who still had 11 holes to play.
"I'm sure there's nobody happier for me than Dustin", Koepka said.
The sight raised the spectre of the 2004 US Open at Shinnecock, when weekend wind dried the course and rendering some of the greens virtually unplayable by Sunday. It also propelled Spieth to some more major glory, as he won The Open in his very next start. Reed birdied his first three holes, five of his first eight, and went out in 4-under 31. "We must slow the courses down tonight, and we will".
Reed made a 14-footer for birdie at 15 to move within two shots of the lead, responding with two big fist pumps and a sly grin as he walked off the green sipping some type of pink concoction from a clear water bottle. Tony Finau and Daniel Berger faced the same scenario.
Rose was one shot behind, with Stenson another shot behind.
It was the first time since Oakmont in 2007 that no one was under par going into the final day. The circus of going from a 16-under victor at Erin Hills to a one-over victor at Shinnecock Hills the next year makes the tournament a complete toss-up annually, which thoroughly entertains me. His bogey putt slid by, and after a few putts, Mickelson trotted after it and then stuck out his putter and hit the ball back toward the cup to keep it from running off the green. He outperformed Mediate in an 18-hole playoff which lasted for 19 holes thereafter. They also discuss the effect that a bad course can have on the players, and whether seeing these generally dominant players struggle can ultimately make for fun golf to watch.
"Of course it's disappointing, but at the same time, finished tied for second at PGA past year, won Augusta, then I think I'll finish in the top five here", Reed said immediately after his round. Rickie Fowler responded with the low round of the U.S. Open.
"I think that was like making a birdie, maybe even making an eagle", he said.
And typical of an old-styled U.S. Open, there were plenty of complaints.
At least not the ones who teed off in the afternoon. I know it's a two-shot penalty. He gave himself a glimmer of hope with four late birdies Friday followed by a pair of bogeys that snuffed it out with equal speed.
After one fan near the 8th green blurted out, "Nobody likes you, dude!" the response was tenfold, with a chorus of "Everyone loves you, Pat!" and "I love you Patrick!" drowning out the naysayer.