Westwood among those still in hunt after busy ‘moving day’ at Oakmont
In his native England, Lee Westwood probably doesn’t have a lot of time to ride the famous roller coaster of Blackpool with the 205-foot drop.
But he certainly should know something about ups and downs after his long day Saturday at the U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club.
Saturday is “moving day.” It’s when players jump out of the pack or try to take control of the tournament.
Westwood, ranked 30th in the world, did just that — several times.
He survived several big drops but each time rallied to stay in a tie for third at 2-under-par, three strokes behind Shane Lowry, who leads at 5-under. Westwood is tied with Sergio Garcia and Dustin Johnson, who also have holes to finish after play was stopped at 8:49 p.m. because of darkness.
Westwood played 33 holes over the second and third rounds Saturday and must return at 7 a.m. Sunday to play Nos. 16, 17 and 18.
Westwood teed off for the second round more than 12 hours earlier — at 8:28 a.m. — recording four birdies and six bogeys for 2-over in what he called “a professional round of 72.”
“The way I played today, I could have blown myself out of the championship,” said Westwood after the conclusion of the second round.
“So it was good to grind it out, be under par, be in the red and have a chance at the weekend.”
Westwood teed off for his third round at 4:28 p.m. and climbed back on the roller coaster, posting a birdie on the par-4 second, a bogey on the par-5 fourth and an eagle two on No. 5. For eagle, he holed out from the fairway for the second time in the tournament.
After that, he settled for two more bogeys, sandwiched around a birdie.
Then, on No. 11, he buried his feet in bunker sand and tried to hit the green 150 yards away only to find another bunker. Still, he saved par by putting the next shot 2 feet from the hole.
“I struggled on the range (in the morning) to find my swing and really couldn’t find it on the golf course until the last hole (of the second round, a birdie on the 472-yard par-4 18th),” Westwood said. “The mistakes I made weren’t killers.”
Garcia made par or birdie on 12 of 14 holes in the third round. He must play holes 15 through 18 on Sunday.
Another stroke back at 1-under was South African Branden Grace, who had to play only 18 holes Saturday. He holed a 33-foot putt for par on No. 16 and a 15-foot birdie putt on 18 to complete the third round with 66.
Grace is accustomed to the pressure. He was in a four-way tie for the 54-hole lead at last year’s U.S. Open.
“Pretty special,” Grace said of his 66. “It was a bonus finishing the way I did. The last stretch is not the easiest. I stayed patient, took the chances when they came my way.”
At 1-over was Bryson DeChambeau, who took a double-bogey 7 on the 674-yard No. 12 before making birdie on three of the last six holes.
“It’s a grind out there,” he said. “My caddy said to me, ‘You have to bring your lunch pail.’ Every single hole, there’s trouble. If you don’t hit in the fairway it’s trouble. It’s a one-shot penalty.”
Can he win Sunday, despite starting six strokes off the lead?
“The putter gets hot, watch out,” he said.
Lowry took a two-stroke lead even after penalizing himself one stroke on No. 16 in the second round.
“I hit a nice 6-iron into the right-hand side of the green and had a straightforward 2-putt from 30 feet up a hill,” he said. “I addressed the ball, and the ball moved back. I had to penalize myself. It’s very frustrating in a tournament like that.”
Lowry mitigated the damage by sinking an 8-foot putt for bogey.
Also making moves Saturday night was American Derek Fathauer, playing in his first U.S. Open since 2008. After a 1-under 69 in the second round, he birdied three of the first 10 holes of his third, including a birdie on No. 10.
Gregory Bourdy, who conducted part of his post-second round news conference in French, also lurked not far from the lead, shooting a 67 in the second round. He is seven shots behind Lowry.
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review pitt football reporter. You can contact Jerry at 412-320-7997, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .