20 Jun 2021 | Professional golf |

Scott rises as US Open tightens

by PGA of Australia

Adam Scott lashes a drive at Torrey Pines today. Picture: USGA
Adam Scott lashes a drive at Torrey Pines today. Picture: USGA

By Tony Webeck

It was a subtle shift as opposed to a major move, but Adam Scott’s Saturday 71 has put him in position to push into the top 20 in the final round of the US Open at Torrey Pines in California.

On a day in which the front-runners failed to separate themselves from the field, Scott had five birdies and five bogeys in an even-par round that moved him up 10 spots on the leaderboard to be tied for 31st at three over with one round to play.

Joint 36-hole leader Russell Henley also shot 71 on Saturday to maintain a share of top spot, level with Canadian Mackenzie Hughes (68) and South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen (70) at five under, two clear of Rory McIlroy (67) and Bryson DeChambeau (68).

Playing in his first US Open, South Australian Wade Ormsby also progressed up the leaderboard, rising four spots thanks to a round of 73 to be tied for 54th.

Victorian Marc Leishman is also tied for 54th after dropping 24 spots with a round of 75, while New South Welshman Matt Jones, playing alongside McIlroy, fell to a share of 67th after posting a flat 79 in his third round, a run of three bogeys from the 12th hole and a double bogey at the par-4 17th doing the lion’s share of the damage to his scorecard.

Playing in his 80th consecutive major championship and with 19 top-10 finishes during his career, Scott wrestled with the give-and-take of a US Open set-up at Torrey Pines, dropping shots at four, six, 10, 14 and 17, but picking them back up at seven, 12, 13, 15 and 18 to sit four shots outside the top 10.

A superb approach shot from 148 yards set up birdie from 14 feet at the par-4 seventh, but better was to come at the 12th, running his second shot from deep rough 209 yards out through the front portion of the green up to seven feet, making the putt to get back to four over for the championship.

A perfect tee shot of 338 yards put Scott in position to attach the green with his second at the par-5 13th, the 40-year-old unlucky to see his second fly directly over the pin and roll into the back bunker.

He played an exquisite bunker shot down to four feet and made the putt for his second consecutive birdie.

Another superb approach from 219 yards set up a birdie putt from 14 feet at the par-4 15th that curled in on the left edge and after laying up with his second hit a wedge in tight at the par-5 18th for his fifth birdie of the day.

Ormsby made a bright start to his third round with birdies at two of his opening three holes, but it was a smattering of bogeys from that point on.

He was unable to get up and down from left of the seventh green and after missing the green short and right at the par-3 11th – the hardest hole on the course on Saturday – was left with a par putt of some 35 feet that broke so savagely that he started his stroke with his back to the hole.

Ormsby dropped a shot at the next hole when his par putt broke across the face of the cup at the par-4 12th and missed a 10-footer for par at the 17th to finish two over for the day and six over in total.

Following on from his 67 on Friday, Hughes climbed into a share of the lead with a round of 68 and knows that playing in the final group of a US Open will bring with it a different level of energy, if not a change to his dinner plans Saturday night.

“I’ve had pizza the last two nights, so I’m probably going to have pizza again tonight,” Hughes said.

“There’s probably a strong chance I’ll eat pizza. I’m not that superstitious, but I’m a little superstitious.

“You get goosebumps thinking about it, so I know I’m going to be nervous tomorrow.”

McIlroy’s 67 was matched only by Englishman Paul Casey on Saturday and puts him in prime position to pressure the leaders in search of a fifth major championship victory and second US Open crown, his first coming a decade ago at Congressional Country Club.

“I’m trying to think of the last time where I really felt like I had a chance,” McIlroy said of being two back and in the penultimate group at a major.

“Carnoustie in ‘18 felt like I maybe had half a chance, going into the final day at Pebble in 2019.

“But apart from that, there’s been some good finishes but never felt like I was in the thick of things.

“I’m just excited for the opportunity to have a chance and be in one of the final groups."

LEADERBOARD

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