This is the first time the Los Angeles Country Club has played host to the U.S. Open.
I wonder if it will be a one and done.
Unlike the RBC Canadian Open last week, this week’s U.S. Open is clearly lacking enthusiasm. There just isn’t any fan support. I think the tournament has played to an indifferent audience, swallowed up in a city where there is so much to see and do. I don’t think it’s a golf audience.
And the tee-off times were so late on Saturday, it ended in near darkness. Was that the United States Golf Association’s idea or NBC’s? Either way, it just seemed the day dragged on.
Typically, the U.S. Open is the toughest of the four majors on the PGA Tour, likely because that’s the way the USGA wants it.
The U.S Open is usually played on courses that the players have experienced before and often have greens that are slick and fast. They know that going into it, but it still can drive them crazy. Remember in the 2018 U.S. Open when Phil Mickelson (Callaway Chrome Soft X) deliberately hit a moving ball that was about to roll off the green after he putted? He incurred a two-stroke penalty and the wrath of pro and amateur golfers, not to mention the USGA and former PGA Tour players. He was the biggest critic of the tournament and of the USGA as a whole. Perhaps it’s because how badly he wanted to win the U.S. Open, the only major he hasn’t won. He didn’t make the cut this week.
With no familiarity with the course, the players are having to learn on the fly, and battling the thick rough has been a challenge. The RBC Canadian Open was played on a course for the first time, which also had deep rough, but overall it wasn’t nearly as frustrating as this course.
When Brooks Koepka (Srixon Z-Star Diamond) criticized the course after the second round because the players are facing several blind shots, he was not alone in his opinion. But Koepka has never been shy about expressing his thoughts. The two-time U.S. Open winner is even-par, tied for 20th.
Defending champion Matt Fitzpatrick (Titleist Pro V1x) was also critical, saying after Saturday’s round the course is not his “cup of tea,” because of the blind shots and fairways that don’t hold the ball. Fitzpatrick finished with a two-under par score and is tied for 15th at one-under par.
Jon Rahm (Callaway Chrome Soft X) was visibly upset after his round, in which he finished at even par and overall is two-over par, tied for 38th. When Rahm gets hot, everybody can tell.
FIGHT TO THE FINISH: So who will be the last man standing when the 2023 U.S. Open is over?
It’s anybody’s guess.
It sure looked like either Rickie Fowler (TaylorMade TP5x) and Xander Schauffele (Callaway Chrome Soft X) after they both shot a U.S. Open record eight-under par 62 in the first round. But it has been tough sledding after that.
To be precise, Fowler is two-under par in his last 36 holes. He finished the third round at even-par and 10-under par overall and is tied with Wyndham Clark (Titleist Pro V1x). Fowler bogeyed the final hole after missing a five-foot par putt. He had not missed anything within that range in the tournament up to that point.
But there is no denying Fowler, a California native, is the fan favorite.
Clark (Titleist Pro V1x) recorded a birdie on his final hole, narrowly missing an eagle with an amazing approach shot from about 150 yards. The hole before he bogeyed but showed his moxie to put it behind him. He was critical afterward saying he and McIlroy (TaylorMade TP5x) were basically playing in the dark the last two holes.
Schauffele, who is also a California native, is three-over par since his opening round. He shot three-over par on Saturday for an overall score of five-under par and is tied for sixth.
McIlroy is knocking on the door at nine-under after firing a one-under par on Saturday. He is looking to win his first major since 2014 when he finished first in the PGA Championship. He would also be a popular winner.
Tom Kim (Titleist Pro V1x) shot six-under par on his opening nine holes and appeared to be headed for a round of 62 himself, but he cooled off on the back nine, which has been far tougher than the front nine. He finished at four-under, the best round of the day, and is three-under heading into the final round.
BAD BODY ENGLISH: Harris English (Titleist Pro V1) suffered bad luck when he whiffed attempting to chip out of some thick rough on his third shot on the 18th hole. On his fourth shot, he narrowly missed draining it, but he made up for it with a six-foot putt to bogey. He finished at one-over par for the round and six-under par overall.
SCOTTIE TOO HOTTIE: World number one Scottie Scheffler (Titleist Pro V1x) recorded an eagle and birdie on his last two holes to finish the round two-under par and seven-under par overall.
In the last 24 U.S. Open tournaments, the winner has been no further behind than four shots.