Woodland maintaining his lead in U.S. Open



The Associated Press

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. - Gary Woodland was still holding on to a 2-stroke lead as he made the turn in the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday, but one Brooks Koepka was trying to make a move on him.

Woodland shot a 1-under through nine holes on Saturday to increase his score to 10-under. Justin Rose, who was two shots behind Woodland after two rounds, also was at 1-under for the second round to up his score to 8-under.

However, Koepka had pulled within three shots of the lead with a 3-under third round through 13 holes. He was five shots behind after two rounds in his bid for a record-tying third straight U.S. Open title.

Woodland was at 9-under 133, the lowest 36-hole score for a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He had a 1-shot lead last summer at Bellerive in the PGA Championship before Koepka came on to win.

Matt Kuchar and Chesson Hadley were both four strokes back after 12 holes. Chez Reavie and Rory McIlroy were five strokes back after 11 and Louis Oosthuzien was five back after 10 holes.

Woodland stretched his lead to four shots at one point with a great par save on No. 5 and a birdie on the par-5 sixth. But he had his first bogey in 35 holes with a long 3-putt from the fringe on No. 8, dropping him to 10 under. Rose made birdie, a 2-shot swing that allowed him to close within two shots again.

There were three multiple major champions who needed a good round to get back in the mix on Saturday, but instead went in the other direction. Tiger Woods had to birdie two of the last three holes for a 71. Phil Mickelson put one in the ocean for triple bogey on the 18th for a 75. Jordan Spieth made nothing but pars until a double bogey at No. 11. His birdie at the 18th gave him a 73.

Woods was at even par after three rounds, while Spieth was 1-over and Mickelson 3-over.

In the second round, Rose set the target early and at one point Friday morning had a four-shot lead until a poor wedge to a front pin on No. 3, followed by an iron off the tee at the short, uphill fourth that peeled right over the edge and into ice plant, forcing him to take a penalty drop and leading to a bogey.

But he had few complaints with a super short game that has carried him for two rounds. Rose got up-and-down from the thick collar short of the green at No. 8, and with a lag putt from the bottom of the green at No. 9.

"At this point, there's not a lot to worry about," Rose said. "If you're one ahead, one behind, it's a lot of golf to be played. But it's the perfect spot after two days."

For the second straight day, Pebble Beach was there for the taking, but only for good, smart shots.

McIlroy also made a run at the lead until a bogey from the bunker on the 13th, and a mess on the par-5 14th. With the ball slightly above his feet for his wedge, and knowing that anything left of the pin would go down a slope with gnarly rough, he left it out to the right and watched it roll off the green and into the fairway. Then, he dumped a shot into the bunker and walked off with double bogey.

He answered with a pair of birdies.

"Those were huge to get me back into the tournament," McIlroy said.

Oosthuizen, the first player to reach the early target set by Rose at 7 under, gave a shot back with a bogey on No. 8, and then another one at No. 10 that started his roller coaster along the inward nine.

A birdie was followed by two bogeys, followed by two birdies and another bogey.

"Seven birdies and six bogeys - I'm not a big fan of bogeys," Oosthuizen said. "But miss these greens, it's so difficult around the greens in the rough. And you can't control the ball. You basically are guessing what it's going to do. And all those loose iron shots, I had tough chips, and end up bogeying probably all of them."

Mickelson revved up the crowd with three birdies in the opening six holes, and six birdies for the round. He still couldn't stop the mistakes, however, and Lefty had to settle for a 69. He was eight shots behind, needing to get a little closer in range to seriously think about a shot at the career Grand Slam.

Even with two soft days, and slightly firmer conditions, no one expects it to be easier the rest of the way.

Graeme McDowell, who won the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2010 at even-par 284, ran off four straight birdies early in his round, threw in a few mistakes and was wincing over every birdie chance that burned the edge of the cup. He had to settle for a 70 and was six behind, but still hopeful.

"Anything can happen on this golf course over the weekend," he said. "You don't have to do anything fancy tomorrow."