PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Gary Woodland hit a shank and a chunk and both times made par, and he made a birdie from a deep divot in the fairway. Such moments, even on a Saturday, can go a long way toward winning a U.S. Open.
Even better for Woodland was a 2-under 69 -- and just two bogeys over 54 holes at Pebble Beach -- for a one-shot lead over Justin Rose.
"I worked for this my whole life," Woodland said. "I know what it takes to win. And my game is in a great spot. I'm at a beautiful golf course. I came here to win, and that's what we're going out to do tomorrow."
He's not alone in that thinking.
Rose was right where he wanted to be after working more short-game magic from bunkers and thick grass and awkward spots around greens that were getting a little firmer and faster, even under another day of thick marine layer that has blanketed the Monterey Peninsula all week. He has 34 one-putt greens through 54 holes, the last one an up-and-down from the bunker for birdie on the par-5 18th for a 68 that put him in the final group.
"One back gives me the freedom to feel like I've got everything to gain, nothing to lose," said Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion at Merion. "I'm not chasing, really. I'm so close to Gary that I have to go out and play my game tomorrow."
Brooks Koepka thinks he can win because no one has been winning majors like him in the past two years. He played bogey-free for a 68, settling for par when he made a bold attempt to slash a fairway metal around a cypress on the 18th hole.
Four shots behind is close enough for Koepka to have a shot at a record that has stood for 114 years as he tries to join Willie Anderson with a third consecutive U.S. Open title.
"I feel as confident as ever right now," said Koepka, words that carry a little more weight from a guy who has won four of his past eight majors.
Standing in the way of all of them is Pebble Beach, a strong enough test that has been missing strong wind, its best defense.
The final hour of the third round gave a glimpse of possibilities, how fortunes can change quickly.
Woodland twice looked as though he were about to lose two shots or more of his lead until chipping in from 35 feet on the par-3 12th hole, and holing a par putt from just over 40 feet on the par-5 14th.
"I'm excited to be where I'm at right now," Woodland said.
He was at 11-under 202 and with hardly any margin for error against Rose.
Koepka had some theatrics of his own, misjudging a lie in the rough so deep he could barely see the golf ball left of the 15th green. It sailed long into the first cut, some 35 feet away, and he holed the putt for par to keep a clean card.
He was part of a group four shots back that included Louis Oosthuizen, who birdied three of his last four holes to salvage a 70; and Chez Reavie, who made his share of long par putts for a 68.
Koepka won at Erin Hills in 2017 with his power and at Shinnecock Hills last year with his clutch putting. He might need a little of both to make up a four-shot deficit at Pebble Beach, though he brings the most recent experience handling the pressure of a final round in a major. He is going for his fifth major title in his last nine tries, a stretch not seen since Tiger Woods at his peak.
"I just enjoy the pressure," Koepka said. "I enjoy having to hit a good golf shot, making a putt when the pressure is on. If you're within three on the back nine, anything can happen. Hang around all day and see what happens."
Curtis Strange, the last player with a shot at three consecutive U.S. Opens, also shot 68 in the third round in 1990 and got within two shots, only to fade with a 75 on the final day.
Rory McIlroy didn't get enough out of how well he hit the ball and had to settle for a 70, leaving him five shots behind.
As for Woods, he joined a list of big names that went the wrong direction. Woods had a 71 and was 11 shots behind. Dustin Johnson also had a 71 and was nine back. Phil Mickelson saw his career Grand Slam hopes vanish at sea when he hit driver in the Pacific Ocean on the 18th hole and made triple bogey for a 75.
Woodland, who led by two to start the third round, stretched it to as many as four shots when Rose shanked a bunker shot from in front of the par-3 fifth green, and Woodland followed with a 10-foot birdie putt on the par-5 sixth.
That ended with a two-shot swing on the tough eighth hole, where Rose birdied from 10 feet and Woodland took three putts from the back of the green, ending his amazing streak of 34 consecutive holes without a bogey.
And then came his biggest two shots, both for par.
Woodland thought his tee shot on the 12th was pure, even twirling his club as it descended. It came up short and in a nasty in the wispy, shin-high grass. Gripping the club at the shaft, he shanked it to the right into light rough. With Rose inside 10 feet for birdie, it looked like a two-shot swing at the very least.
And then Woodland holed it, slamming his fist, a rare show of emotion for one of golf's coolest customers.
"I was trying to avoid the big number," Woodland said. "Take your medicine and move on. Nice that it went in."
At Pebble Beach (Calif.) Golf Links
Par 71, 7,075 yards
Third of four rounds
Gary Woodland ............. 68-65-69—202
Justin Rose ................... 65-70-68—203
Brooks Koepka .............. 69-69-68—206
Chez Reavie ................... 68-70-68—206
Louis Oosthuizen .......... 66-70-70—206
Rory McIlroy ................. 68-69-70—207
At a glance
STROKE AVERAGE 5.177
After gouging out of the rough on his second and third shots, leader Gary Woodland made a 42-foot putt to save par and, for the second time in three holes, avoid a two-shot swing against second-place Justin Rose, who made birdie. Rose was the only player among the top eight to make birdie or better on the par 5.
Today’s U.S. Open tee times
All times Central (a-denotes amateur)
9:21 a.m. Michael Thorbjornsen (a)
9:32 a.m. Bernd Wiesberger, Justin Walters
9:43 a.m. Cameron Smith, Chip McDaniel
9:54 a.m. Charlie Danielson, Luke Donald
10:05 a.m. Kyle Stanley, Zach Johnson
10:16 a.m. Kevin Kisner, Andy Pope
10:27 a.m. Marcus Kinhult, Brian Stuard
10:38 a.m. Rafa Cabrera Bello, Brandt Snedeker
10:49 a.m. Clement Sordet, Daniel Berger
11 a.m. Andrew Putnam, Adri Arnaus
11:11 a.m. Tommy Fleetwood, Aaron Wise
11:22 a.m. Sepp Straka, Harris English
11:33 a.m. Phil Mickelson, Charles Howell III
11:44 a.m. Emiliano Grillo, Rory Sabbatini
11:55 a.m. Billy Hurley III, Bryson DeChambeau
12:06 p.m. Collin Morikawa, Erik Van Rooyen
12:17 p.m. Patrick Reed, Carlos Ortiz
12:28 p.m. Paul Casey, Webb Simpson
12:39 p.m. Chandler Eaton (a), Tom Hoge
12:50 p.m. Martin Kaymer, Rhys Enoch
1:01 p.m. Sergio Garcia, Jordan Spieth
1:12 p.m. Jason Dufner, Billy Horschel
1:23 p.m. Rickie Fowler, Alex Prugh
1:34 p.m. Nick Taylor, Shane Lowry
1:45 p.m. Haotong Li, Viktor Hovland (a)
1:56 p.m. Tiger Woods, Marc Leishman
2:07 p.m. Jason Day, Tyrrell Hatton
2:18 p.m. Jim Furyk, Matt Fitzpatrick
2:29 p.m. Hideki Matsuyama, Patrick Cantlay
2:40 p.m. Scott Piercy, Francesco Molinari
2:51 p.m. Dustin Johnson, Brandon Wu (a)
3:02 p.m. Nate Lashley, Abraham Ancer
3:13 p.m. Adam Scott, Xander Schauffele
3:24 p.m. Byeong Hun An, Matt Wallace
3:35 p.m. Henrik Stenson, Jon Rahm
3:46 p.m. Graeme McDowell, Danny Willett
3:57 p.m. Chesson Hadley, Matt Kuchar
4:08 p.m. Rory McIlroy, Louis Oosthuizen
4:19 p.m. Chez Reavie, Brooks Koepka
4:30 p.m. Justin Rose, Gary Woodland
Gary Woodland shot a 2-under 69 at Pebble Beach on Saturday and holds a one-stroke lead over Justin Rose entering today’s final round of the U.S. Open.
Justin Rose hits out of a bunker during the third round of the U.S. Open Championship on Saturday in Pebble Beach, Calif. Rose maintained second place at one stroke behind Gary Woodland by shooting a 3-under 68.
Sports on 06/16/2019
Print Headline: Woodland doesn't fade in 3rd round