US Open: Justin Rose trails Gary Woodland by one, Rory McIlroy in contention

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Justin Rose made five birdies in a round of 68 on Saturday
Third-round leaderboard
-11 G Woodland (US); -10 J Rose (Eng); -7 B Koepka (US), C Reavie (US); L Oosthuizen (SA); -6 R McIlroy (NI); -5 M Kuchar (US), C Hadley
Selected others: -4 D Willett (Eng), G McDowell (NI), J Rahm (Spa), M Wallace (Eng); -2 D Johnson (US); -1 M Fitzpatrick (Eng); Level T Woods (US), T Hatton (Eng).

England’s Justin Rose sits one shot off the lead held by American Gary Woodland heading into the final day of the 119th US Open at Pebble Beach.

The 2013 champion rolled in a birdie at the 18th to move to 10 under par after an enthralling day in California.

World number one Brooks Koepka, chasing a third successive US Open victory, is three further back with Chez Reavie and Louis Oosthuizen at seven under par.

Rory McIlroy birdied the last to card a one-under 70 and reach six under.

Fellow Northern Irishman Graeme McDowell, US Open winner at this venue in 2010, holed an eagle putt at the last to improve his score to four under.

England’s Danny Willett is four under after shooting a 67, the round of the day, but Masters champion Tiger Woods was left frustrated by a level par offering that included five birdies and as many bogeys.

World number two Dustin Johnson looked set to make his move after successive birdies on the third and fourth holes, only for the 2016 champion to immediately drop a shot and a bogey at 16 left him at two under for the tournament, alongside reigning Open champion Francesco Molinari.

Rose reels in Woodland as Koepka lurks

On another cool, overcast day by the Pacific Ocean things were beginning to hot up in the field as Woodland extended his overnight lead from two to four strokes before Rose reeled in the world number 25.

Koepka missed numerous birdie opportunities to close the gap himself but still managed to card his best round of the week with a bogey-free 68 and said afterwards he will “enjoy the pressure” of trying to win a fifth major on Sunday.

In a dramatic few minutes, Woodland saved par with a chip-in from the fringes at the par-three 12th, Rose drained a birdie putt on the same hole and Koepka scrambled for a par of his own with a mammoth putt at the 15th.

Woodland holed another huge par-saver from more than 40 feet at the 14th but Rose stepped up to close the gap to two with a birdie, while Koepka was left having to navigate the tree in the middle of the 18th fairway – he eventually made par to sign for a bogey-free three-under 68.

Woodland, whose had only his second bogey in three rounds at the eighth on Saturday, missed a birdie putt at the last and then saw Rose sink his own effort to move within one stroke of the lead.

“The harder the shot the better I played. I stepped up on certain occasions,” said the 38-year-old, who hit his ball into numerous fairway and greenside bunkers in a battling round.

“I haven’t had my A game all week, might not have it tomorrow, and Sunday might be that kind of day where you have to be as mentally strong as you can.”

Woodland is looking to win the first major of his career having never finished inside the top 20 at a US Open and seeing his best finish at a major come at last year’s US PGA Championship, where he tied for sixth after holding the halfway lead.

The 35-year-old from Kansas, who has won three PGA Tour titles since turning professional in 2007, says he is “excited with where my game is at”.

“You are at a major and leading after three days,” he said. “I’m very comfortable with my game and here at Pebble Beach.”

The chasing pack

Kopeka will need to fire up his putter on Sunday if he is to become only the second player to win three successive US Opens and the first since Scotland’s Willie Anderson between 1903 and 1905.

“I just enjoy the pressure of having to hit a good golf shot or make a putt when you need to,” said the American, who is seeking a fifth major title in his last nine starts.

“Just stay patient. If you are within three shots on the back nine, anything can happen, so hang in there and keep fighting.”

He will head out alongside compatriot Reavie, who is chasing a first major, while South Africa’s 2010 Open champion Oosthuizen is paired with McIlroy.

McIlroy carded three birdies and two bogeys in his round of 70 to leave himself with an outside chance of claiming a first major since 2014.

“Even though I’m still a few off the lead, it’s a wonderful opportunity for me to go out there and I guess try to add to my major tally,” he said.

“I’ve been very pleased with how I’ve played all week. I felt, for the most part I did the right things and I need to do 18 more holes of that, but just get a little bit more out of the round.

“I’m expecting the conditions to be similar, but I could see the course just getting a little firmer and a little faster and just being a touch trickier.”

Willett shines on moving day

Danny Willett has not finished in the top 20 at a major since winning the Masters in 2016

The 2016 Masters champion made successive bogeys through the turn after starting the day with four birdies in seven holes, but clawed those shots back at 14 and 18.

“We played a lot of good golf shots in there and one or two loose ones,” said Willett, following his first sub-par round in 16 attempts at the US Open.

“The course is in great condition and does not showcase that you have to be long or short, you just have to play good golf.

“The last few years it’s been a bombers’ paradise so this course evens out the field in that way. It does not favour any one type of player, so at the end of the week you are going to get the best player winning, as it should be.”

Fellow Englishman Matt Wallace is at four under. He finished with an eagle to rescue his round after a double bogey on the ninth threatened to derail his tournament. However, three successive bogeys through the turn saw Matt Fitzpatrick drop to one under for the tournament, one ahead of Tyrrell Hatton.

I feel every shot I hit – Woods

Woods missed his chance to make an assault on the leaders as the Masters champion got off to what he called an “awful” start with two bogeys in his opening three holes.

It turned into a colourful card for the 15-time major champion as he made five bogeys and five birdies to remain level for the tournament heading into the final day at the site of his record-breaking 15-shot victory at the 2000 US Open.

The 43-year-old, who had back surgery two years ago, wore kinesiology tape on his neck to provide pain relief and muscular support on a chilly day in California.

“When it’s cold like this everything is achy,” he said. “It’s just part of the deal. It’s been like that for years. The forces have to go somewhere.

“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.”

Six-time runner-up Phil Mickelson will celebrate his 49th birthday on Sunday but any hopes he had of completing the career Grand Slam this year by winning the US Open – the only major trophy missing from his CV – are over.

The six-time US Open runner-up hit his drive into the Pacific Ocean at the par-five 18th as he finished with a triple-bogey eight that took him to 75 for the day and three over for the championship.

“I’ll come out and play as well as I can,” he said. “But this was the day I needed to go low. I played well enough to do it. I had many opportunities.”



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