To be sure, there are no Francis Ouimet-level upsets looming this weekend in the U.S. Open at The Country Club. The closest we might get is if 22-year-old amateur and rising Texas senior Travis Vick were to post another impressive round on Saturday and truly get into the mix. And maybe he already qualifies, standing at one under and only four shots off the leaders’ pace.
Still, there is the tremendous story brewing in 34-year-old Joel Dahmen, who has outwardly scoffed at his own chances to win any major, but now finds himself tied at the top at five under with a 25-year-old in Colin Morikawa who already has two of the biggest trophies in his possession. The Bucket Hat buildup is beginning to remind us of everyman Jason Gore’s popular run in the 2005 U.S. Open at Pinehurst. Can Dahmen possibly keep talking himself out of nerves when the first balls are struck on the weekend?
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More likely, we’re going to see one of the top players in the world rise in the third round, and there are plenty of juicy possibilities for that. And know this stat from the broadcast on Friday: Of the past 28 U.S. Open champs, 26 have been two shots or closer to the lead after 36 holes. There are 12 players presently in that spot, and they include Morikawa, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlory, both at four under, and World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler (three under).
Morikawa is playing a draw for maybe the first time in his life this week, and the question would be: Can he keep his current makeshift swing together long enough to win? McIlroy carries the weight of not having won a major since 2014—a fact truly hard to fathom considering he’s only 33 years old. Rahm is attempting to become only the eighth players to win back-to- back U.S. Opens. And Scheffler is the hottest player in golf and coming off his Masters triumph.
Too, there’s another intriguing story out there. Beau Hossler was a wunderkind who contended into the weekend at the 2012 U.S. Open as a high school kid. Think he’s heard enough of that over the last decade? At 27, his PGA Tour career hasn’t fully blossomed—he doesn’t yet have a win—but he’s only one shot back after a 67 on Friday and is professing to love the layout.
It all sets up for what should be a fabulous Saturday in Beantown.
12:43 p.m.: Just as we say it’ll be a “full driver for most” on No. 5, DeChambeau takes out less than driver on the driveable par 4. Most, not all! Nonetheless, with a strong breeze in and off the left, he sends his fairway wood well right into the tall greenside fescue. Surely won’t be easy on the recovering wrist from there.
12:34 p.m.: With a stronger wind coming out of a different direction than in the first two rounds, the driveable par-4 fifth is playing much longer today. On Thursday and Friday with a helping breeze, guys were knocking it on with 3-woods, but today it’ll be a full driver for most with the wind coming in and off the left. As the wind picks up this afternoon, we may see more players opt to lay up. Still though, it’s playing well under par so far today.
12:10 p.m.: For all you channel-switching complainers, complain no more as third-round coverage moves to NBC for the rest of the day. For those who weren’t watching early coverage on Peacock, NBC’s Arron Oberholser gave keen inside-the-ropes analysis on the key holes. Long story short? With an increasingly firm course, tricky pins and a stronger, gustier wind (some gusts over 20 mph) out of the northwest, low scores will be hard to come by this afternoon. Currently, the best score of the day is one under.
11:56 a.m.: Bryson DeChambeau just teed off, and though he’s no doubt happy to be playing on the weekend, the fact he’s going out this early, seven strokes off the lead, says a lot about where his game is. He’s coming off surgery, of course, and the expectations for the week were tempered, but it’s striking how different things are since he won the COVID-delayed U.S. Open at Winged Foot. He hit only 11 of 28 fairways in the first two rounds and missed the first one today. And was we write this, Bryson just chipped in from the deep rough behind the green at 1!
11:35 a.m.: On the U.S. Open website, there’s the nifty tool where you can compare the statistics of two players. So we plugged in the co-leaders, Morikawa and Dahmen. In strokes gained, Dahmen has been stronger off the tee (2.22 to 1.46) and approach (an impressive 4.81 to 2.46). Morikawa has been stronger in the short game. In around the green, he’s gained 2.48 strokes on the field, while Dahmen is at 0.87. In putting: It’s Morikawa at 3.35 and Dahmen at 1.86. The stats would suggest that Dahmen has to continue to keep the ball in play off the tee, and Morikawa needs to stay hot with the putter.
10:47 a.m: We just posted the official prize money for the tournament. The total purse is up 40 percent from just last year at Torrey Pines and the winner will get $3.15 million. Hey, it ain’t $4 million for beating 47 other guys like on LIV, but we’re guessing there will be a tad more pride attached.
10:20 a.m.: Here are the hole locations for the day.
10:22 a.m.: There’s been some whining this week about having to switch around to various outlets to follow the touranment. The reponse from this corner: Would you rather only have only four hours to watch on one channel? Probably not. Anyway, it’s a bit simpler on the weekend, with the very early coverage on Peacock, followed by NBC.
10:10 a.m.: The third round is underway with the early groups, and amateur Stewart Hagestad has birdied the first hole and has a nice birdie try at the par-3 second. The sun is out, but it’s expected to be an unseasonably cool day, with a forecast high of 67. There’s a decent wind that figures to dry out the greens and make them pretty crispy by the time the final group of Collin Morikawa and Joel Dahmen goes off at 3:45 p.m.