Shinnecock Hills responded with a vengeance on Saturday in the third round of the 2018 U.S. Open. Dustin Johnson had pushed the lead all the way to 4-under par heading into the weekend, but as we head into Sunday's final round, he's in a four-way tie atop the leaderboard after going 7 over. The cut was at 8-over par, but after a day where the average score was between 75-76, 8-over par is now good enough for T-16 on the leaderboard.
This course was a fickle beast all day with many golfers criticizing the way it is playing even compared to a difficult first two rounds. If you're Phil Mickelson, you know this all too well., and while he was assessed a penalty, he was not disqualified.
Daniel Berger and Tony Finau were among the players to take advantage of more favorable conditions in the morning, each carding a 66 on the way to massive jump up the leaderboard. They were two of only three players to be under par for the day, along with Kiradech Aphibarnrat after a 68 moved him up into the top 10.
So now we're set with former champions Johnson and Brooks Koepka, along with Berger and Finau going for it all on Sunday at the U.S. Open. At the risk of distracting from the mayhem created by Mickelson and his 81 earlier in the day, I'd say this is exactly what the USGA wanted to see heading into the final round.
Here's how the leaderboard looks heading into Sunday:
T1. Dustin Johnson (+3): Early in the round, Johnson lost his touch on the greens here at Shinnecock Hills. But as the conditions worsened for scoring, D.J. was able to keep the train from going totally off the rails and enters the final round sharing the lead. There were a lot of missed putts during his 77, and he will be paired with Koepka, but they won't be in the final pairing.
T1. Brooks Koepka (+3): Don't let Koepka's three-bogey finish on the final six holes create recency bias that makes you think he's off his game head into Sunday. On a tough day, Koepka did what he could to keep things in line to remain in contention to win in the final round.
T1. Tony Finau (+3): After bogeys on No. 2 and No. 3, Finau turned around his entire U.S. Open experience with birdies on No. 4 and No. 5 and a 31 on the back nine. There was no way to know when he finished that 3-over would be so close to the lead, but it's put him in a position to make a run at his first major championship.
T1. Daniel Berger (+3): With a couple birdies early in the round, Berger made himself one of the early known names on Saturday. Avoiding the big number and grinding out pars allowed him to stay steady with and finish with a 66 on the day.
5. Justin Rose (+4): Facing a birdie putt to tie for the lead on the 18th green, Rose fell victim to one of a handful of notorious pin placements. His birdie miss took off on the other side of the cup, leaving him a long par putt and a tap-in bogey to finish the day with a 73. That two-shot swing showcased the razor-thin margin for error the leaders battled all day.
6. Henrik Stenson (+5): After nine holes it looked like Stenson was in position to take this major championship by storm, but five bogeys on the final nine changed his position heading into Sunday.
T7. Jim Furyk, Patrick Reed, Kiradech Aphibarnrat (+6): Aphibarnrat, like Finau and Berger, went low early and now has the challenge of repeating the feat with what we assume will be much tougher conditions on Sunday afternoon. Furyk and Reed have been steady enough to outlast most of the field, but need to go low for the first time this week in order to win it all.
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