Gary Woodland holds the first 54-hole lead of his major championship career as he seeks his first major title Sunday at Pebble Beach Golf Links. Personal history is not on Woodland’s side: in his seven previous 54-hole leads in regular PGA Tour events, he never went on to win.
Woodland has been scrambling out of his mind through three rounds, leading the field at a clip of 88 percent. Woodland entered this week 169th on the PGA Tour in that statistic. He has never ranked better than 50th in scrambling on the PGA Tour over the course of an entire season.
More Woodland – he has just two bogeys through three rounds this week. That ties the fewest bogeys or worse through three rounds of a U.S .Open over the last thirty years: Brian Harman had two bogeys through two rounds in 2017, and Rory McIlroy had the same number in his blowout win in 2011.
Justin Rose is just one shot back, looking at a brilliant opportunity to claim his second U.S. Open title. If he wins, he will become the first European player to win a second U.S. Open title since Alex Smith of Scotland in 1910.
If you want to make a move up the leaderboard at Pebble Beach, you need to do it on the first seven holes. Through three rounds, the field is a combined 39-under-par on holes 1-7. They are a ridiculous 660-over-par on holes 8 through 18.
Brooks Koepka is tied for third, four shots behind Woodland. Koepka is, of course, trying to become the first player to win three straight U.S. Open titles since Willie Anderson more than 100 years ago. Koepka has been brilliant with his irons, leading the field in greens in regulation, proximity to the hole and strokes gained approach.
Koepka went bogey-free Saturday, his eighth bogey-free round in a major since the beginning of 2015. That is the most of any player in that span in majors – Jordan Spieth and Francesco Molinari have seven apiece during that stretch.
The seventh hole at Pebble Beach was set up at just 98 yards on Saturday. That tied the second-shortest par three in U.S. Open history, trailing only the 92-yard setup on the seventh at Pebble back in the final round in 2010.
Louis Oosthuizen is still in contention, sitting tied for third after making birdie on three of his last four holes. With a win, Louis would become the third player to win majors at St Andrews and Pebble Beach, joining Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus.
Each of the previous 20 U.S. Open champions were at or within four shots of the lead entering the final round. The largest final round deficit overcome to win the U.S. Open is seven shots by the great Arnold Palmer in 1960.