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Dustin Johnson and three other US players share the lead at three-over after the US Open third round, with Justin Rose in assertion one shot back
The US Open could trademark its repeat and spectacular brand of chaos. Nobody does it better. On a day in which Dustin Johnson sampled this major’s evil side, Phil Mickelson triggered shockwaves throughout the regions of the golfing world.
Mickelson’s turbulent relationship with his professional nemesis took its latest and most extraordinary twist as he intentionally rehit his own putt when rolling rapidly past the hole on the 13 th green at Shinnecock Hills. This was quite the 48 th birthday.
The offence, which led to calls for disqualification, was widely interpreted as a Mickelson protest at the United States Golf Association’s setup of the course. The man himself denied such a theory, even if Zach Johnson stepped forward to lacerate tournament organisers. As the leaders grasped urgently for air, it appeared Johnson had a point. “They’ve lost the course,” said the two-times major champion. In what represented an ominous throwback to the 2004 US Open here, perfectly good approach shots failed to stick on greens and putts reacted as if on glass.
The Mickelson drama and Johnson broadside came on a day where Dustin Johnson’s earlier tight grip on the tournament he had headed by four was significantly loosened courtesy of a front nine of 41. The world No 1 had steadied himself before three-putting the 18 th; his 77 entails a 54 -hole, four-way tie for the leading at three over par alongside his American compatriots Brooks Koepka, Tiny Finau and Daniel Berger. Justin Rose was three over for the working day but the 2013 champion gained four shootings on the leading, to be one behind the quartet.
The brutality was illustrated by only three members of the field breaking par. Finau and Berger induced morning 66 s; they rose through the field at great pace from the convenience of their hotel rooms. Rose’s 73 left him a shot ahead of Henrik Stenson. Wide open? You bet.
Mickelson, who requires victory at his national open to complete a career grand slam, had virtually no chance of such glory when taking to the hole he was to render infamous. He was four over par for the day and plus 10 for the tournament.
Nobody could reasonably have predicted what happened next. Mickelson rattled his fourth shot, a curling 18 ft putt, well past the beaker. Before the ball could come to a standstill- it was still gathering pace on a slope- Mickelson chased after it and struck it back towards the cup. Had Mickelson not intervened, the ball would have rolled back up the green.
His score was deduced as a 10, including two-stroke penalty. Tournament officials instead insisted that rule 14 -5, which relates to playing a moving ball as opposed to stopping or deflecting it, encompassed the questions entirely. Others called fouled.” I would have lobbied for a disqualification ,” said David Fay, a former executive director of the USGA.