Sunday, June 17, 2018

Dustin Johnson takes 77 but still one of four US Open co-leaders

Southampton, New York: From making the halfway cut right on the number, Kiradech Aphibarnrat found himself in title contention after a wild U.S. Open on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Thai star hit an impressive 2-under 68 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club, taking advantage of an early start to shoot five birdies against three bogeys and rise 51 rungs to T7 on 6-over 216 in the year’s second major.

He will enter the final round only three shots behind co-leaders Dustin Johnson (77), Daniel Berger (66), Tony Finau (66) and defending champion Brooks Koepka (72).

Kiradech was only one of three players in the field to break par on golf’s ‘Moving Day’ – the other two being Berger and Finau – as he gave himself a shot at the title and a chance to wrap-up his US PGA TOUR card for the 2018-19 season.

“It's always pressure to be in the U.S. Open. To have a chance to play on the weekend is such a great week. And to move up a lot on my position, I just tried to do everything that my job had to do, keep the ball in play and just hope it will be my day,” said Kiradech, who has two top-5s at the World Golf Championships-Mexico Championship and WGC-Dell Technologies Match Play.

The big-hitting Thai, ranked 31st in the world, found all fairways on Saturday which made life easier for him. After making bogey on three when he found a greenside bunker, he bounced back with birdies on four, five and eight, converting putts from inside of 10 feet. He traded two more birdies on 12 and 17 against dropped shots on 13 and 14 for his first under-par round in two U.S. Open appearances.

Nearly five and a half hours after signing his scorecard, and with the leaders struggling as the winds picked up and greens became devilishly tricky, Kiradech found himself lying in the top-10 of a major championship at any stage for the first time in his blossoming career.

He knows he must repeat his heroics and stay patient on Sunday to have any chance of becoming only the second Asian golfer after South Korea’s Y.E. Yang (2009 PGA Championship) to win a major championship.

“I think it's all about keeping the ball in play, under the wind and then put it in the right positions. Some putts you have to be a little bit against it, some putts you have to back off a little bit. It just has to be all about the game planning. If you hit it out of position, on this course when you make a mistake, it hurts a lot,” said Kiradech.

“This course, when the wind picks up, is a completely different golf course. Really difficult to put the ball in the fairways, and you can't hold the greens. And the pins were really tricky. You just have to be really patient and really calm on the shot,” said Kiradech, who will play alongside Masters Tournament winner Patrick Reed in the fourth to last pairing on Sunday.

Koepka dropped four bogeys against two birdies for a 72 which earned him a share of the third  round lead, giving himself a chance to retain the U.S. Open.

“I'm glad I'm in the position I'm in. I feel like, you know, obviously, going off in the morning was a little bit easier. Guys are spinning the balls on the greens. I don't think there was this much wind. I'm not really quite sure. But it definitely got difficult (in the afternoon). You got to - comes down to winning a U.S. Open, you got to have some grit, some heart. I mean, I've won one, so why not win another?,” said Koepka.

Taking a four-shot lead into the third day, Johnson, who regained his world No. 1 mantle after winning the FedEx St. Jude Classic last week, made one double bogey, six bogeys and one birdied to fall back to the field.


Par 210 (3x70)
Players from USA unless stated otherwise
213 D Berger 76 71 66, T Finau 75 72 66, B Koepka 75 66 72, D Johnson 69 67 77
214 J Rose (Eng) 71 70 73
215 H Stenson (Swe) 71 7 74
216 K Aphibarnrat (Thai) 76 70 68, P Reed 73 72 71, J Furyk 73 71 72

217 T Hatton (Eng) 75 70 72, I Poulter (Eng) 69 72 76 (T10)
218 M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 73 70 75 (T16)
219 P Casey (Eng) 73 73 73, R Knox (Sco) 73 71 75, T Fleetwood (Eng) 75 68 78 (T23)



Mickelson hits moving all on green and

ends up with a 10 and an 81

Phil Mickelson created one of the more bizarre moments in US Open history when he stunned fans by hitting a moving ball on the 13th green at Shinnecock Hills Golf Club on Saturday.
Such an offence incurs a two-shot penalty and Mickelson ended up taking a ten and signing for an 81, with theories abound over the final five holes about the reasoning for his uncharacteristic approach.

Some even speculated that it may have been a protest over the difficult course conditions but when interviewed after his round, the five-time Major winner revealed he was simply trying to take advantage of the rules.

The six-time runner-up at the year's second Major Championship was already four over for his round stood on the tee at the par four and needed four attempts to get onto the green before he stood over his first putt.

His 18-footer for par missed on the low side and with the ball seemingly heading back to where Mickelson had just chipped from, the American ran around the hole and hit it back up towards the cup before it had stopped.

“I don't mean disrespect to anybody,” he said. “I know it's a two-shot penalty. At that time, I just didn't feel like going back and forth and hitting the same shot over. I took the two-shot penalty and moved on, it's my understanding of the rules. I've had multiple times where I've wanted to do that, I just finally did.

“It was going to go down in the same spot behind the bunker, I wasn't going to have a shot, I don't know if I was able to save a shot or not.

“I know it's a two-shot penalty hitting a moving ball. I tried to hit it as close as I could on the next one and you take the two shots and move on.

“It's meant to take advantage of the rules as best as you can. In that situation, I was just going back and forth. I would gladly take the two shots over continuing that display.

“I don't mean it in any disrespect and if that's the way people took it, I apologise to them. But that's not the way it was taken. I took the two-shot penalty, moved on, and there's not much more to say.”

Mickelson – celebrating his 48th birthday on Saturday – was playing alongside Andrew Johnston with the pair seemingly enjoying the attention from the galleries despite both enduring tough days up until the controversial incident.

Beef is renowned for his laid-back attitude and admitted he could only laugh after he saw Mickelson make his dash down the green.

“It's just one of the mad moments, really,” he said. “We were both obviously really struggling.

“It wasn't a thing of saying, 'I've had enough' or this and that. It just happened.

“I said, 'that's one of the strangest things I've ever seen' and then just started laughing, to be honest. I said, 'I'm sorry, but I've got to laugh at this'.

“He just laughed with me. He just looked at me and just laughed. We just laughed at it. He had no words to say what he did. It was just one of the moments where he was just like, 'I have nothing to say about it'.

“It's nothing disrespectful to me or to the US Open or anything. It's just one of them things that just happened.”

Tournament Leaderboard

Pos image:
Player nameimage:
JOHNSON, Dustinimage:
KOEPKA, Brooksimage:
BERGER, Danielimage:
FINAU, Tonyimage:
ROSE, Justinimage:
STENSON, Henrikimage:
FURYK, Jimimage:
APHIBARNRAT, Kiradechimage:
REED, Patrickimage:




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