BROOKLINE, Mass. — When world No. 1 golfer Scottie Scheffler made the switch in the third round of the US Open on Saturday, he was 6 under par and had a 2-shot lead over Collin Morikawa.
By the time Scheffler teed off on the 14th hole, he was no longer in the lead and had returned 5 shots.
With swirling winds, firm, knee-deep greens and cooler temperatures, the Country Club was showing its teeth, even for the player who had been the best in the world for the last four months.
“For me, that’s going to happen at the US Open,” Scheffler said. “The golf course is just tough. The conditions are tough. The scores are high. All I was going to do was try to hang in there. That was my only goal. Just hang in there and stay in position.”
Scheffler was able to do that by birdieing the par-4 17th and sinking a par-saving 14½-foot putt on the 18th. He finished the round 1-over-71. After 54 holes, he’s tied for fourth with 2-under. par, 2 strokes behind co-leaders Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick.
“I think the US Open is very demanding, mentally and physically,” Scheffler said. “I think that’s part of what makes this tournament so much fun. You’re going to be tested in different ways, whether it’s physically, mentally, whatever. This golf tournament is going to test you. That’s why is to show up here.”
Scheffler, who won four times in six starts earlier this season, including his first major championship win at the Masters in April, was more than tested during a four-hole stretch of the back nine.
On the par 3 11th hole, Scheffler’s tee shot bounced hard off the green and nearly hit a hazard to the right. He couldn’t get up and down and scored a double bogey 5 to drop it to 4 under par.
Then, on the par 4 12th hole, Scheffler’s shot was down the middle of the fairway, but his approach shot was very short. He hit his chip shot and made two putts for a bogey. He made another bogey on the 13th hole after he hit his tee shot into the thick rough on the left and had to stop.
On the par 5 of the 14th, Scheffler’s tee shot was buried in the right rough. He hit his second shot to the right and missed a 7-foot par putt. He went from 6 under par to 1 under par on the four hole stretch. It was the first time in his major career that he had four straight bogeys or worse, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
“I kept reminding myself [that] I’m still in tournament golf,” Scheffler said. “I doubled on 11, and when I came out of that one, I was like, ‘Dude, pretend you bogeyed 10 and birdied 8. Not a great agreement.’
“After the bogey on 12, no big deal. I’m still maybe 1 down for the round. Then after 13, I kept trying to pretend what was happening wasn’t happening. I was eventually able to stabilize the ship.” .”
That could be Scheffler’s greatest strength. No matter what happens during a round, he never seems to get too flustered. After hitting his second shot into a bunker on the 18th hole and not hitting a good chip shot, he hit his wedge into the cue stick and then into the ground. But he was able to compose himself and make the putt.
When Scheffler was asked what emotions he felt on a day like Saturday, he said “happy and sad.”
“I just didn’t make a good shot,” Scheffler said. “It’s a shot I’ve been practicing and it’s a shot I’ve been working on. I just didn’t make it. I knew how hard the putt was, and that’s why I was so frustrated because I had a chance to make it.” something close, and I didn’t make a great shot.
In the end, it didn’t matter. Scheffler made the putt and gave himself a chance to win again on Sunday. He will try to become the eighth player to win the Masters and the US Open in the same season; Jordan Spieth was the last to do so, in 2015.
“Any time you can win a golf tournament, especially a major one, it’s really special,” Scheffler said. “For me, I’m not thinking about what I did a month ago. I’m not thinking about what I did two months ago. Right now, I’m here at the US Open and I’m going to try to win the golf tournament tomorrow. If I do It’s going to be so much fun. If I don’t do it, life will go on.”