Sweden’s Marcus Kinhult showed what was possible on the final day of the US Open as Tiger Woods tried to battle back from a nightmare start at Pebble Beach.
Kinhult, who won his first European Tour title at the British Masters last month, carded six birdies and a solitary bogey in a closing round of 66 to finish level par in his first major on US soil.
The 22-year-old’s score will have been a welcome sight for those trying to catch leader Gary Woodland, the American holding a one-shot lead over 2013 champion Justin Rose at the top of the leaderboard.
Defending champion Brooks Koepka, who is seeking a third consecutive US Open title and fifth major in his last nine appearances, was four off the lead alongside Louis Oosthuizen and Chez Reavie, with Rory McIlroy a shot further back.
Woods began the day a distant 11 shots off the pace and quickly slipped further down the leaderboard with four bogeys in his first six holes, the 43-year-old failing to take advantage of the easiest stretch of holes on the course.
Those chasing will have to overcome the odds.— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) 16 June 2019
All 5 previous #USOpen champions at Pebble Beach – and 9 of the last 11 winners in total – were in either first or second place through 54 holes: https://t.co/Y1TVqjhOf2 pic.twitter.com/HNHm50e3Gw
Birdies on the seventh and eighth at least repaired some of the damage but Woods did not look fully fit and was again seen with kinesiology tape on his neck, a product popular with athletes which is intended to provide pain relief and muscular support.
“When it’s cold like this everything is achy,” Woods, who underwent spinal fusion surgery in April 2017 had said after a third round of 71. “It’s just part of the deal.
“It’s been like that for years. The forces have to go somewhere. And if they’re not in the lower back, they’re in the neck, and if not, they’re in the mid-back, and if not, they go to the knee. You name it.
“My back impacts every shot I play. Let me put it this way, I feel every shot I hit. I think that’s always going to be the case from here going forward.”