Gary Woodland carded a day-three 69 at Pebble Beach Golf Links and will enter Sunday’s finale of the U.S. Open Championship with a one-shot lead over Justin Rose.
The unheralded Kansan, aside from one mishap on the par-4 8th hole (bogey), was extremely impressive under the spotlight at the iconic American golf course, adding three birdies and 14 pars – two of which were highlight-reel par saves, to reach 11-under par.
“I feel very comfortable on this golf course,” said Woodland, who is ranked No. 25 in the world. “I’ve played well on Pebble during the AT&T the last couple of times I’ve been here.
“I have a lot more shots. I’ve been a cutter of the golf ball a long time. [Instructor/Coach] Pete Cowen has got me comfortable working the ball both ways if I need to. And that just frees me up a little bit.”
Despite playing alongside world No. 4 Justin Rose, and being chased by two-time defending champion, and world No. 1, Brooks Koepka, the 35-year old Woodland remained cool as, well, Koepka himself, calmly strutting from tee to green, while making it all look easy, including a couple of round-saving highlight-reel pars on Nos. 12 and 14.
First, he chipped in for par from 33 feet on the par-3 12th, and then two holes later dropped a 42-foot putt par-saver on No. 14. Rose could only shake his head.
“I have a short game now I can rely on,” said Woodland, who ranks 5th in putting, and 8th in sand saves this week. “I don’t have to focus on the ball-striking.
“This is a golf course I don’t have to pound a lot of drivers, I can play a little more conservatively, stick to my game plan. And like I said, it’s nice to be where I’m at right now. But looking forward to going out and doing it one more day.”
One back, meanwhile, was the Englishman Rose, who didn’t have to make many long bombers but did convert a whole bunch of clutch testers, including four birdie putts ranging from nine to 13 feet, en route to a 68 to reach 10-under par.
With a chance to make history, the 38-year old Englishman was thrilled to be paired with Woodland again.
“I’m in a great position going into [Sunday],” said Rose, who won the 2013 U.S. national golf championship at Merion. “Had a great day with Gary. He’s awesome to play with. For both of us, we are good friends.
“From that point of view, it’s going to be a fun day. One back gives me the freedom to feel like I’ve got everything to gain, nothing to lose. I’m close enough that I have to build my plan, build my round of golf, be disciplined.”
Lurking just four shots behind, though, will be Koepka, the man all eyes will be focused on – at least in the early going. The four-time major winner posted a Saturday round of 68 and sits 7-under par as he seeks to join the immortal Willie Anderson (1903-05) as the only golfers to claim three-consecutive U.S. Open banners.
“Just keep doing what I’m doing,” said Koepka in his now familiar matter-of-fact way. “Obviously, whatever I’m doing is working.
“Make a couple of birdies [on Sunday], put some pressure on guys.”
South African Louis Oosthuizen made birdies on Nos. 15, 16, and 17 to sign for a 1-under 70, and join the chasing pack at 7-under par 206, alongside Koepka and Chez Reavie (568).
Last week’s Canadian Open winner, Rory McIlroy, made birdie on the final hole to get in the red for the day at 1-under par, while giving himself an outside shot at Sunday glory. The Northern Ireland superstar sits alone in sixth-place on 6-under par.
Matt Kuchar (70) and Chesson Hadley (70) were one further back at 5-under par, one clear of a five-player logjam at 4-under, which included three major winners in Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell (70), Swede Henrik Stenson (70), and Englishman Danny Willett (67).
A third Englishman, Matt Wallace (71), along with Spaniard Jon Rahm (70), were among the others in the T9 group.
2019 U.S. Open Championship
Video: Top-10 Shots on Day 3
The USGA has compiled the best shots from the third round of the 2019 U.S. Open Championship at Pebble Beach Golf Links, where Gary Woodland leads Justin Rose by one shot.
More U.S. Open videos, including highlights and interviews.
Leaderboard: Top 10
Pos-Player-To Par (Rd2)
1. Gary Woodland -11 (-2)
2. Justin Rose -10 (-3)
3. Brooks Koepka -7 (-3)
3. Louis Oosthuizen -7 (-1)
3. Chez Reavie -7 (-3)
6. Rory McIlroy -6 (-1)
7. Matt Kuchar -5 (-1)
7. Chesson Hadley -5 (-1)
9. Danny Willett -4 (-4)
9. Jon Rahm -4 (-1)
9. Graeme McDowell -4 (-1)
9. Henrik Stenson -4 (-1)
9. Matt Wallace -4 (E)
14th (-3): Adam Scott, Xander Schauffele
17th (-2): Dustin Johnson, Francesco Molinari
23rd (-1): Patrick Cantlay, Hideki Matsuyama, Jim Furyk
27th (-E): Tyrrell Hatton, Jason Day, Marc Leishman, Tiger Woods
33rd (+1): Rickie Fowler, Jordan Spieth, Jason Dufner, Sergio Garcia
41st (+2): Martin Kaymer, Webb Simpson, Paul Casey
48th (+3): Phil Mickelson, Bryson DeChambeau, Patrick Reed
60th (+4): Tommy Fleetwood
64th (+5): Rafael Carera Bello, Brandt Snedeker, Zach Johnson
Tracking World Top-10
01. Brooks Koepka (-7, T3)
02. Dustin Johnson (-2, T17)
03. Rory McIlroy (-6, 6)
04. Justin Rose (-10, 2)
05. Tiger Woods (E, T27)
06. Francesco Molinari (-2, T17)
07. Justin Thomas (+4, MC)
08. Patrick Cantlay (-1, T23)
09. Bryson DeChambeau (+3, T48)
10. Xander Schauffele (-3, T14)
Odds To Win
A look at the top-5 betting favorites heading into the final round of the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. Just Rose is a slight favorite, simply based on his resume. Koepka, meanwhile, seems like an enticing pick at 45-1.
1. Justin Rose 18-1
2. Gary Woodland 20-1
3. Brooks Koepka 45-1
4. Rory McIlroy 100-1
5. Louis Oosthuizen 120-1
Comfort + Confidence
“I’m getting more and more comfortable from the situation just because I’ve been in the situation a lot. I’ve had a lot of close calls even this year in tournaments. Obviously, I put myself in position in the PGA last year. It’s one of those where the game is becoming more complete, and with that comes a lot of confidence and adds up to playing well.”
– Gary Woodland
Kudos to Putter
“Putting definitely has been – to coin an American phrase, the MVP for sure. I felt like the putter, with my preparation for the greens this week has been good. And I’m reading the greens really well. I’m seeing the lines. The putter is behaving.”
– Justin Rose
Confident as Ever
“I feel good. I feel like if I can just make a few putts, I feel like I could be right there, right next to Gary [Woodland]. And it’s been very close. I’m pleased how I’m playing. I’m pleased how I’m striking the ball. And I feel as confident as ever right now.”
– Brooks Koepka
Red is the New Black
“It’s nice to see red numbers in a U.S. Open, and I think it’s a little bit more exciting.”
– Louis Oosthuizen
“It’s definitely not a golf course or a golf tournament where you can go chasing. Even though I’m still a few off the lead, it’s a wonderful opportunity for me to go out there and try to add to my major tally.”
– Rory McIlroy
Sunday’s Final Pairings
4:57 pm: M. Kuchar (-5), C. Hadley (-5)
5:08 pm: L. Oosthuizen (-7), R. McIlroy (-6)
5:19 pm: B. Koepka (-7), C. Reavie (-7)
5:30 pm: J. Rose (-10), G. Woodland (-11)
All times EST