Woodland holds nerve to stay ahead

PEBBLE BEACH (USA), June 16 

An ice cool Gary Woodland held his nerve under mounting pressure to secure a one-shot lead heading into the final round of the US Open after seeing off challenges from Justin Rose and Brooks Koepka on Saturday.

Woodland, who could not manage a top-10 finish in his first 27 Majors, looked as if he played for the biggest prizes in the game every week as he carded a third round 2-under 69 that featured three birdies and a lone bogey.

If Woodland faced intense pressure on Saturday, it is nothing to what awaits him on Sunday with former winners Rose and Koepka breathing down his neck and Major champions Louis Oosthuizen and Rory McIlroy lining up to take a run.

“We just got to play golf shots and hopefully come up with one less than anyone else,” said Woodland. “Sleep is not an issue, I’ll be rested for tomorrow. I’m playing pretty good, I’m comfortable with my game.” 

Rose, US Open champion in 2013, started the day two shots back and ended it with a birdie for a 3-under 68 that trimmed Woodland’s advantage to a single stroke.

Both Woodland and Rose will be looking over their shoulders for Koepka, who had a tidy bogey-free 68 that left him four off the pace with his hopes of becoming the first player in over a century to sweep three straight US Opens very much alive.

Also lurking four back are South African Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion who carding a 1-under 70, and Chez Reavie, who fired a 68 to move into contention. Not to be overlooked is McIlroy, who returned a scrappy 70 to leave him five back but not out of range of a second US Open title.

Two of the Pebble Beach headliners, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, will be reduced to opening acts on Sunday, going off early after disappointing third rounds saw them drop out of contention. Woods, nine back to start the day, began his round in the same frustrating fashion that he ended the second round — with a bogey. A 71 left him 10 behind the leader. 

Mickelson signed off with a triple-bogey that left him at 3-over. — Reuters

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