And if you thought that was a bad start … Harris English is unable to locate his ball in thick rough off the first, and will have to go back to the tee for his second shot. That means Oosthuizen and Matsuyama are left waiting to start their rounds. English’s first effort was not miles off-track; if fans were here, someone would have seen it land.
McIlroy’s second shot on the first gets him to the edge of the green; the trouble is, said green is the size of an overflow car park, and he has to play uphill and downwind. His putt is underhit, and rolls back downhill. He ends up with a tricky six-footer just to save bogey – and misses. Double bogey for McIlroy, and a hammer blow to his hopes.
Here’s what they’re up against on the very first hole. Schauffele and English have just teed off, both finding the rough just left of the fairway as it tapers. It’s a tough start, alright.
Another up-and-comer, Chilean 21-year-old Joaquín Niemann, double-bogeyed the first but bounces back at the third, with a tee shot that is very, very close to a hole-in-one. Perhaps golf, like cycling, is unexpectedly becoming a young person’s game …
Matthew Wolff is out on the driving range, fiddling with his phone and trying not to look bothered. At the first, fellow young gun Viktor Hovland plays out of a bunker and misses the cup by inches – but tidies up for par.
McIlroy powers his opening tee shot straight down the middle of the fairway. Johnson doesn’t fare so well, sending his effort way, way off to the left.
For those of you asking why there have been no Rory McIlroy updates: he’s not started yet. Teeing off in five minutes, alongside Zach Johnson. Reed has bogeyed the second and slipped back to +3.
Matthew Wolff and Bryson DeChambeau have plenty in common. Both were born in California; both made their major breakthrough at August’s PGA Championship, finishing tied for fourth, three shots behind winner Collin Morikawa.
Both players are also fans of the “grip and rip” style, favouring power and distance over precision approach play. Of the 42 fairways they’ve faced so far, DeChambeau has found 17, Wolff just 12 – but their big-hitting game has repeatedly got them out of trouble.
Patrick Reed’s back-nine meltdown on Saturday saw him drop eight shots and fall apparently out of contention – but he’s birdied the first today to get back to +2. Is a heartwarming comeback on for the plucky Texan?
Here’s what Winged Foot’s tricky greens can do to a golfer. New Zealand’s Danny Lee had a par putt to finish eight-over yesterday. Six shots later:
After giving his bag of clubs a damn good thrashing, Lee withdrew from the tournament. That’s what golf do to ya!
More than 40 players are out on the course, and as it stands, just two are under par for their round: Erik van Rooyen and Lucas Herbert, who have both improved to +9 for the week. That suggests Winged Foot is set to bite back after a kinder Saturday. Here are the pin positions; plenty tucked away to make life difficult for Wolff and DeChambeau’s power game.
Final round tee-times
Plenty of players are already out on the course, but the contenders will start getting under way in around an hour. All times are BST, local times are fivehours behind – so the leaders go off at 1.30pm, EST.
5.13pm: Patrick Reed (+3) & Thomas Pieters (+3)
5.24pm: Joaquín Niemann (+3) & Webb Simpson (+3)
5.35pm: Lucas Glover (+3) & Alex Norén (+3)
5.46pm: Viktor Hovland (+2) & Rafa Cabrera-Bello (+2)
5.57pm: Rory McIlroy (+1) & Zach Johnson (+2)
6.08pm: Xander Schauffele (E) & Harris English (E)
6.19pm: Louis Oosthuizen (-1) & Hideki Matsuyama (E)
6.30pm: Matthew Wolff (-5) & Bryson DeChambeau (-3)
Hello, and welcome to the final day of the 120th US Open Championship. This could be a red-letter day, not just for the player who emerges victorious, but for the game of golf in general.
Matthew Wolff and Bryson DeChambeau will head out as the final pair after taking on a brutally tough course with power and ambition. Winged Foot is perhaps the ultimate purists’ challenge, where hitting fairways and making pars are key to success. The leading duo have ripped up that rule book, and a first major for either today might persuade others to change their game.
That said, the USGA won’t make it easy for the week’s power couple today, and the overnight leaders on Thursday and Friday – Justin Thomas and Patrick Reed – dramatically lost their way. There’s plenty of hope for the chasing pack, with Louis Oosthuizen and Rory McIlroy among them.
Here’s the leaderboard as it stands:
Even: English, Matsuyama, Schauffele
+2: Cabrera-Bello, Z Johnson, Hovland