Sunday shootout likely

2021 U.S. Open / Torrey Pines Round 3

US Open 2021 R3
Round 1, Round 2, Round 4

US Open 2021 R3 - Sunday shootout likely
Mackenzie Hughes (Chris Keane/USGA)

Estimated reading time: 13 minutes


SAN DIEGO, CA. Get your popcorn and your favorite beverage ready because Sunday’s final round for the 121st U.S. Open looks to be a donnybrook with plenty of fireworks leading to a grand climax.


US Open 2021 R3

If the final round is anything like the one witnessed on Saturday, we could see the same kind of theatrics produced the last time this championship visited the South Course in 2008.

Tiger Woods won’t be the central figure this time around, but the storylines are plenty intriguing.

Three players with varying professional success share the 54-hole lead at 5-under-par 208 and no less than 13 players are within four shots of the lead.


US Open 2021 R3

There’s Mackenzie Hughes, a 30-year-old Canadian who missed the cut in his three previous U.S. Open starts. Hughes, who has one PGA Tour win (the 2016 RSM Classic), converted a 63-foot eagle putt on the par-5 13th and closed with an up-and-down birdie from a greenside bunker on the par-5 18th for a 3-under-par 68.

There’s Russell Henley, the 32-year-old Georgia native who barely broke 80 in his only tour around the South Course prior to this week. The 18- and 36-hole leader holed out a 65-foot bunker shot on No. 11, statistically the hardest hole on the course, for a birdie en route to an even-par 71.


US Open 2021 R3

And there’s the 2010 winner of The Open Championship at St. Andrews, Louis Oosthuizen, who always seems to be around the leaderboard in major championships. The 38-year-old South African has been a runner-up in all four majors: the 2015 U.S. Open, 2012 Masters the 2015 Open Championship at St. Andrews (in a playoff) and the 2017 and 2021 PGA Championships. On Saturday, he rolled in a 51-foot eagle putt on the closing hole for a 1-under 70 and a spot in Sunday’s final pairing with Hughes at 12:55 p.m. PDT.

But that trio can’t get too comfortable, especially with two stalwarts lurking two strokes back. Defending champion Bryson DeChambeau, who carded a bogey-free 68 on Saturday, and 2011 winner Rory McIlroy (67) are no strangers to Sunday pressure in a major. McIlroy also owns a pair of PGA titles and a British Open title, while DeChambeau rallied from two shots back last September to win by six.


US Open 2021 R3

Three shots back are Jon Rahm, whose first PGA Tour win in 2017 came at Torrey Pines, 22-year-old Matthew Wolff, the runner-up last September at Winged Foot, and Scottie Scheffler, the 2013 U.S. Junior Amateur champion who is still seeking his first win on the PGA Tour.

Because it’s a U.S. Open, never count out the likes of 2016 U.S. Open champion Dustin Johnson, 2020 PGA champion Collin Morikawa and local favorite Xander Schauffele, all of whom are just four behind.

“I feel like I’m starting to understand major championship golf and how to play it and how to go about managing my game, my attitude and just my patience level,” said DeChambeau. “If I can continue to do that tomorrow, I think I’ll have a good chance.”

US Open 2021 R3 - Sunday shootout likely
Bryson DeChambeau (Kohjiro Kinno/USGA)

US Open 2021 R3

While nobody is surprised to see Oosthuizen in this position, Hughes came into the week having missed his last five cuts on the PGA Tour and was without a top 10 in a stroke-play event since a tie for seventh in the Vivent Houston Open last November.

“I don’t think I’m ever surprised when I play well,” said the former Kent State standout who is bidding to become the first Canadian to win the U.S. Open. “I wouldn’t say I necessarily expected to be in the last group this week, but I know that my game is good enough to win on the PGA Tour. I’ve done it before. This is a bigger stage, but again — it’s an 18-hole golf course and 72 holes, so I just need to do a lot of the same things I did to win that tournament.”


US Open 2021 R3

Oosthuizen, who started Round 3 behind Henley and 48-year-old Richard Bland, got off to an indifferent start on Saturday, making the turn at 1-over 36. Another bogey at No. 10 pushed him three strokes out of the lead and seemingly out of the conversation. Then he rolled in a 30-foot birdie putt on the par-3 16th and the monster eagle putt at 18.

“Look, it will help a bit, but I need to play well,” said Oosthuizen, responding to his wealth of major-championship experience. “There’s a lot of great players who have a chance of winning this, and I just need to go out and play as good as I can tomorrow.”

Four years ago, Henley entered the final round of the U.S. Open at Erin Hills in a share of seventh, only to falter on Sunday with a 79. Now in his eighth U.S. Open, Henley, who shared low-amateur honors in 2010 at Pebble Beach, hopes that experience will pay dividends.


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US Open 2021 R3

He showed some mental fortitude down the stretch on Saturday with a brilliant up-and-down save for par from a greenside bunker on his final hole.

“Tied for the lead going into the last day of a major, you never know,” said Henley, whose last win was the 2017 Honda Classic. “I’m 32, I don’t know how many more good years I have left, but hopefully a lot. I’m just excited. You always wonder what it would feel like to be in contention.”

Major championship pressure is unlike any other. And the internal nerves will clearly be present. The stakes are high — the ultimate reward clear. One man’s name placed on a trophy that honors the champion of American golf.


Odds and ends from Saturday’s 3rd round

  • With an odd number of golfers making the cut (71), four-time U.S. Open competitor Jason Gore, the USGA’s senior director of player relations, played as a non-competitive marker with Akshay Bhatia. Outgoing USGA CEO Mike Davis served as Gore’s caddie. Gore, who grew up in Valencia, Calif., qualified for the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines, but missed the cut.
  • Richard Bland, the feel-good story of the first two days, struggled to a 77 on Saturday. Last month, the Englishman won his first European Tour event in his 478th start. Bland failed to make a single birdie during his 3rd round.
  • Six of the eight left-handers to start the championship made the cut. That list: BhatiaBrian Harman, Rick Lamb, Robert MacIntyre, Phil Mickelson and Bubba Watson. No southpaw has ever won the U.S. Open, the only major with that distinction.
US Open 2021 R3 - Sunday shootout likely
Akshay Bhatia (Robert Beck/USGA)

US Open 2021 R3

  • Sixteen countries were represented among the 71 players to make the cut, with the USA leading the way with 36. England and South Africa each had six, followed by Australia (4), Italy (3), Spain (3), Canada (2), Japan (2), the Republic of Korea (2), Argentina (1), Chile (1), Germany (1), the Republic of Ireland (1), Northern Ireland (1), Scotland (1) and Venezuela (1). 
  • The last non-American player to win the U.S. Open was Martin Kaymer in 2014 at Pinehurst.
  • Paired together for the third round, 2015 champion Jordan Spieth (68) and Paul Casey (67) combined for a best-ball, 10-under 61. The two combined for 13 birdies.


US Open 2021 R3

  • Bryson DeChambeau’s 68 on Saturday was just the third bogey-free round of the championship, joining Rafa Cabrera Bello (Round 1) and Chez Reavie (Round 2).
  • For Saturday’s third-round setup, the par-4 sixth hole (534) played one yard longer than the par-5 18th (533). When the PGA Tour’s Farmers Insurance Open is contested in late January, the sixth is played as a par 5.
  • Holes 10-12 have been three of the four toughest all week, and the par-5 13th is playing slightly over par (5.07). Mackenzie Hughes is 6 under on that stretch.
  • Expect to see the front right pin placement on the 18th green Sunday — that was where the pin was located when Woods holed a remarkable 12-foot birdie putt to tie Rocco Mediate in the ’08 U.S. Open and win the next day via a playoff.

US Open 2021 R3

Pos.
Player
To Par
R1
R2
R3
Total
T1
Mackenzie Hughes
-5
73
67
68
208
T1
Louis Oosthuizen
-5
67
71
70
208
T1
Russell Henley
-5
67
70
71
208
T4
Rory McIlroy
-3
70
73
67
210
T4
Bryson DeChambeau
-3
73
69
68
210
T6
Jon Rahm
-2
69
70
72
211
T6
Scottie Scheffler
-2
72
69
70
211
T6
Matthew Wolff
-2
70
68
73
211
T9
Christiaan Bezuidenhout
-1
72
70
70
212
T9
Dustin Johnson
-1
71
73
68
212
T9
Collin Morikawa
-1
75
67
70
212
T9
Xander Schauffele
-1
69
71
72
212
T9
Kevin Streelman
-1
71
69
72
212
T14
Paul Casey
E
71
75
67
213
T14
Harris English
E
72
70
71
213
T14
Sungjae Im
E
72
72
69
213
T14
Brooks Koepka
E
69
73
71
213
T14
Francesco Molinari
E
68
76
69
213
T14
Ian Poulter
E
74
71
68
213
T14
Justin Thomas
E
73
69
71
213
T21
Chris Baker
+1
74
71
69
214
T21
Richard Bland
+1
70
67
77
214
T21
Lanto Griffin
+1
76
69
69
214
T21
Brian Harman
+1
72
71
71
214
T21
Martin Kaymer
+1
77
68
69
214
T21
Guido Migliozzi
+1
71
70
73
214
T21
Jordan Spieth
+1
77
69
68
214
T21
Lee Westwood
+1
71
72
71
214
T29
Daniel Berger
+2
71
72
72
215
T29
Joaquin Niemann
+2
75
69
71
215
T31
Patrick Cantlay
+3
70
75
71
216
T31
Branden Grace
+3
72
70
74
216
T31
Rikuya Hoshino
+3
69
74
73
216
T31
Si Woo Kim
+3
71
75
70
216
T31
Robert MacIntyre
+3
71
73
72
216
T31
J.T. Poston
+3
72
73
71
216
T31
Chez Reavie
+3
76
68
72
216
T31
Charl Schwartzel
+3
71
74
71
216
T31
Adam Scott
+3
70
75
71
216
T31
Bubba Watson
+3
72
67
77
216
T41
Matt Fitzpatrick
+4
70
75
72
217
T41
Dylan Frittelli
+4
73
72
72
217
T41
Adam Hadwin
+4
70
72
75
217
T41
Dylan Wu
+4
70
73
74
217
T45
Rafa Cabrera Bello
+5
68
76
74
218
T45
Sergio Garcia
+5
71
74
73
218
T45
Charley Hoffman
+5
72
71
75
218
T45
Kevin Kisner
+5
73
73
72
218
T45
Shane Lowry
+5
72
74
72
218
T45
Edoardo Molinari
+5
70
76
72
218
T45
Patrick Rodgers
+5
70
71
77
218
T45
Jhonattan Vegas
+5
75
69
74
218
T45
Gary Woodland
+5
74
71
73
218
T54
Akshay Bhatia
+6
73
73
73
219
T54
Stewart Cink
+6
73
72
74
219
T54
Tommy Fleetwood
+6
72
73
74
219
T54
Tom Hoge
+6
72
71
76
219
T54
Marc Leishman
+6
74
70
75
219
T54
Hideki Matsuyama
+6
69
76
74
219
T54
Troy Merritt
+6
75
71
73
219
T54
Wade Ormsby
+6
72
74
73
219
T54
Patrick Reed
+6
72
73
74
219
T63
Rick Lamb
+7
71
75
74
220
T63
Phil Mickelson
+7
75
69
76
220
T63
Taylor Montgomery
+7
70
76
74
220
T63
Greyson Sigg
+7
71
74
75
220
T67
Matt Jones
+9
72
71
79
222
T67
Kyle Westmoreland
+9
71
73
78
222
69
Jimmy Walker
10
74
72
77
223
70
Fabián Gómez
11
70
76
78
224
71
Wilco Nienaber
13
72
74
80
226
CUT
Marcus Armitage
+5
71
76
147
CUT
Sam Burns
+5
73
74
147
CUT
Wyndham Clark
+5
75
72
147
CUT
Thomas Detry
+5
71
76
147
CUT
Andrew Kozan (a)
+5
71
76
147
CUT
Taylor Pendrith
+5
75
72
147
CUT
Sam Ryder
+5
77
70
147
CUT
Cameron Smith
+5
72
75
147
CUT
Brendan Steele
+5
73
74
147
CUT
Bernd Wiesberger
+5
75
72
147
CUT
Zach Zaback
+5
75
72
147
CUT
Erik van Rooyen
+5
74
73
147
CUT
Corey Conners
+6
75
73
148
CUT
Tyrrell Hatton
+6
70
78
148
CUT
Garrick Higgo
+6
76
72
148
CUT
Zach Johnson
+6
75
73
148
CUT
Matt Kuchar
+6
73
75
148
CUT
Sebastián Muñoz
+6
71
77
148
CUT
Carlos Ortiz
+6
75
73
148
CUT
Ollie Osborne (a)
+6
76
72
148
CUT
Spencer Ralston (a)
+6
75
73
148
CUT
Johannes Veerman
+6
73
75
148
CUT
Matt Wallace
+6
74
74
148
CUT
Joe Highsmith (a)
+7
76
73
149
CUT
Max Homa
+7
76
73
149
CUT
Billy Horschel
+7
74
75
149
CUT
Michael Johnson
+7
74
75
149
CUT
Jordan Smith
+7
77
72
149
CUT
Zack Sucher
+7
75
74
149
CUT
Sahith Theegala
+7
76
73
149
CUT
Brendon Todd
+7
78
71
149
CUT
Will Zalatoris
+7
75
74
149
CUT
Abraham Ancer
+8
73
77
150
CUT
Eric Cole
+8
77
73
150
CUT
Tony Finau
+8
74
76
150
CUT
Luis Gagne
+8
75
75
150
CUT
Cole Hammer (a)
+8
77
73
150
CUT
Martin Laird
+8
74
76
150
CUT
Kevin Na
+8
77
73
150
CUT
Ryan Palmer
+8
76
74
150
CUT
Victor Perez
+8
75
75
150
CUT
Robby Shelton
+8
78
72
150
CUT
Hayden Springer
+8
77
73
150
CUT
Cameron Young
+8
72
78
150
CUT
Yosuke Asaji
+9
76
75
151
CUT
Paul Barjon
+9
73
78
151
CUT
Hayden Buckley
+9
69
82
151
CUT
Cameron Champ
+9
76
75
151
CUT
Pierceson Coody (a)
+9
73
78
151
CUT
Jason Kokrak
+9
73
78
151
CUT
Peter Malnati
+9
75
76
151
CUT
Adrian Meronk
+9
72
79
151
CUT
Matthew Sharpstene (a)
+9
74
77
151
CUT
Matthew Southgate
+9
75
76
151
CUT
Brian Stuard
+9
78
73
151
CUT
Brad Kennedy
10
74
78
152
CUT
Matthias Schmid (a)
10
76
76
152
CUT
Davis Shore
10
76
76
152
CUT
Webb Simpson
10
79
73
152
CUT
J.J. Spaun
10
77
75
152
CUT
Henrik Stenson
10
76
76
152
CUT
Justin Suh
10
78
74
152
CUT
Thomas Aiken
11
80
73
153
CUT
Roy Cootes
11
76
77
153
CUT
Ryo Ishikawa
11
77
76
153
CUT
Sung Kang
11
75
78
153
CUT
Chan Kim
11
76
77
153
CUT
Joe Long (a)
11
77
76
153
CUT
Andy Pope
11
76
77
153
CUT
David Coupland (a)
12
74
80
154
CUT
Christopher Crawford
13
76
79
155
CUT
K.H. Lee
13
76
79
155
CUT
Justin Rose
13
78
77
155
CUT
Carson Schaake
13
76
79
155
CUT
Luis Fernando Barco
14
77
79
156
CUT
Bo Hoag
14
78
78
156
CUT
Dylan Meyer
14
78
78
156
CUT
Tyler Strafaci
14
78
78
156
CUT
Mario Carmona
15
77
80
157
CUT
John Huh
15
80
77
157
CUT
Alvaro Ortiz
15
82
75
157
CUT
Steve Allan
17
80
79
159
CUT
Wilson Furr
17
77
82
159
CUT
James Hervol
18
79
81
160
WD
Viktor Hovland
+9
74
74