NEW YORK: Americans Patrick Reed and Bryson DeChambeau, two of golf's more unusual characters, tee off in Saturday’s final US Open third-round pairing chasing major glory on a punishing Winged Foot layout.
Tenth-ranked Reed, the 2018 Masters winner, led 62 players who made the cut on four-under par 136 after 36 holes at the famed Mamaroneck, New York course.
“I feel ready to go out and put myself in position to have a chance late on Sunday,” Reed said. “The biggest thing is I feel like the game is where it needs to be. I feel good.”
Ninth-ranked DeChambeau, whose irons and wedges are all the same length as part of his scientific approach, stood one stroke adrift after rounds of 69 and 68 – the only player to crack par each day, a feat he credits, in part, to being patient.
“A lot of deep, long breaths,” said DeChambeau. “It’s sitting back, realizing the state you’re in and being able to take an eight-second breath in and then eight-second breath out. That’s just as simple as it gets for me.”
Aside from Reed, the only other major winner among 11 players at or under par for 36 holes is Justin Thomas, the 2017 PGA Championship winner, who shares third on 138 with US compatriot Harris English and Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello.
Reed has been at the center of rules controversy since his college days, including an infraction for improving his lie in sand at last year’s Hero World Challenge in the Bahamas. Reed has denied wrongdoing and has the same attacking approach to courses as he does accusations.
Reed, enjoying the first solo 36-hole lead since his green jacket win at Augusta National, is 4-0 in converting such positions into victories.
Reed found only 10 fairways in two rounds, the fewest by any US Open leader since 1983. But he has rescued pars and managed birdies by finding mostly light rough and well-placed bunkers offering chances to reach the green.
“I put myself in the right spots to either get it on the green or close to the green or have a good opportunity to get up-and-down for par,” Reed said.
“Even if you miss fairways, you’ve got to miss it in the right spots. I feel like I’ve done that pretty well and am still able to kind of attack the golf course.”
DeChambeau, who closed Friday with an eagle, has driven well and answered bogeys three times in round two with birdies on the next hole.
“You need momentum to keep playing well in a US Open, and that’s what I was able to do,” he said.
“I feel great. Confidence is at an all-time high. Driving it well, iron play is fantastic, wedging is getting better each and every day and I’m putting it like I know I can. So very happy.”
Wind and faster greens mixed with dense rough to create another tough combination for Saturday’s early starters.
Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, the world number four from Northern Ireland, opened with a par to stay seven off Reed’s lead. Former Masters winner Adam Scott was three-over through eight holes. – AFP