EVENT #11 OAKMONT STAFFA TOUR THIRD ROUND
Like most golf courses, Oakmont both giveth and taketh away. The local muni mostly giveth–shorter holes, easier greens, maybe the rough is cut low. Oakmont almost always taketh away–the greens that don’t hold, the putts that skid past the hole, the well-placed bunkers just waiting to swallow up errant shots.
Oakmont gave a little today, as Charles Coody was the lone golfer to get it to -10. But, just as quickly, it took it back, as Coody finished at -7. Back to him in a moment, though.
Jack Burke, co-leader with Andrew Strath and JC Snead at the halfway mark, took sole possession, and by two shots, too, with a 3-under 67.
What Burke has done better than anyone else through the first three rounds is get off the tee and hit the green in regulation, as he’s tops in both. Overall, he’s hit 35 of 42 fairways and 46 of the 54 greens. And, as long as you reach the short grass on schedule, you’ll always have a decent chance of a good score. At four, the 585 yard par five, it was two shots in the fairway and a pitch to six feet and a birdie. At the 285 yard par three eighth (285? Good Lord!), it was on safely with a 3-metal and a 20-foot putt. At the next par three, the 196 yard thirteenth, it was a 6-iron to six feet–pin high left. And, at seventeen–the short par four–it was a safe 3-metal off the tee and a pitch safely on, with Burke dropping the fifteen foot putt. Burke’s only black mark (or is that red) came at the par three sixth. Playing at 194 with the pin in the back, Burke landed left of the pin and rolled into the back bunker. He hit a poor shot out of the sand, leaving himself a 16 footer, which he missed.
At 9-under, Burke leads Coody and Snead by two.
Coody went 5-under through his first eleven, becoming the only golfer thus far to have a red “10” next to his name.
He got off to a fast start, birdieing the first two on decent approach shots, then picked up another stroke at four thanks to a pitch at the par five to five feet. A three-putt bogey at six didn’t derail Coody as he went on to birdie three in a row starting at nine and all on fine approach shots leaving him putts of seven, nine and three feet.
Then, Oakmont tooketh (?) away. Three putt bogey at the par three thirteenth. Missed the green long at fifteen, chunked the chip then two-putted from seven feet for double bogey. Coody got one back at sixteen, with a beauty of a 3-iron at the 224 yard par three, his ball stopping two feet behind the hole. But he gave that right back at the next, hooking his 3-metal into the bunker, overshooting the green with his second, running his ball through the green with his chip, almost chipping in for par before settling for bogey five.
All told, Coody still shot a 2-under 68 and is two shots back at -7.
Snead shot a 69. His best hole of the day was at three. You couldn’t tell it from the tee shot as he pushed a 3-metal into the trees. Still more than halfway home, Snead hit a low 4-iron from 210 that ran onto the green, eventually stopping four feet past the hole and was his first of four birdies on the day. As with Coody, seventeen also got hold of Snead. Hooking his ball into the rough, Snead narrowly avoid the six nasty bunkers. Hitting out of the heavy grass, he hit it fat, coming up short. Though he chipped to five feet and had a decent chance at par, he pushed his putt past and made bogey instead. But eighteen left Snead with a good taste in his mouth as he knocked his drive just over 300 with his 6-iron approach going over the flagstick and stopping eight feet away, Snead draining the putt to finish with a 1-under 69 today and 7-under for the three rounds.
ROUNDING OUT THE TOP TEN:
Andrew Strath, who has been in contention since day one, is all alone in fourth at 6-under, shooting an even par 70 today. Strath hit a spectacular bunker shot at ten after putting his tee shot there, parking a 9-iron to two feet. Alas, he bogeyed fifteen and couldn’t repeat his tenth hole performance at eighteen, hitting out of a deeper bunker from further away, coming up short and finishing with bogey. Tommy Bolt (67) and Gil Morgan (68) are tied for fifth at 5-under while Bob Hamilton and Donnie Hammond (both 70) are two farther back in seventh. And, in a six-way tie for ninth at -2 are Jock Hutchinson and Walt Burkemo (both 67), Lee Westwood (68), Bob Estes (69), John Huston (70) and Bob “Death to Flying Things” Ferguson (73 and let’s see who knows their 19th century baseball).
ROUND OF THE DAY:
Aaron Baddeley with a 66.
Drive for show? 349 off the tee at seven but he pushed his pitching wedge from 126. But he chipped in from 45 feet for birdie. He also birdied eleven for the third straight day. There’s something about that hole he must like as his birdie putts have been of six, seven and, today, three feet. Unfortunately, the last four holes have been an anathema to Baddeley as he’s a combined 8-over for the three rounds. He missed the green on fifteen after hitting into the rough and made bogey there while he three-putted from thirteen feet at sixteen. Otherwise, Baddeley might have had a 64. And, if he figured out how to play the final four holes, he might be at 8-under instead of the even par score he has now.
SHOTS OF THE DAY:
Sergio Garcia had his own highlight reel, holing out for eagle twice–at ten and fifteen.
At ten, Garcia yanked his drive well into the left rough. Managing to avoid nearby bunkers, including two designed for the eleventh hole, Garcia had a good look from 182. Hitting 8-iron out of the rough, he bounced on and rolled in to the pin located in the front center of the green.
Garcia had bogeyed fifteen in each of the first two rounds. Today, the par four was playing at 514. OK, that’s a par five for us mere mortals. After knocking his drive 303, Garcia took out a 6-iron from 211 and with the pin in the back right. And it was right on target, bouncing on and rolling in!
Though that’s four shots gained to par and Garcia had two other birdies, Oakmont took some of those back with a double at thirteen, as he missed the green at the par three then three-putted from thirteen feet, and bogeys at the last two. 68 for Garcia put him in that four-man pile with Baddeley.
Bob Hamilton also had a hole out for an eagle. His came at two. By Garcia’s standards, it was highly mundane . Playing at 350, it was a 3-metal hit safe and an 81 yard three-quarter sand wedge in.
MORE “DRIVE FOR SHOW”:
Steve Stricker at ten. He uncorked the longest drive by anyone so far in the tournament–383 yards one more than Niclas Fasth in the first round and also at the tenth hole). But what was the end result? A par, that’s what, as his pitch from 68 yards ended up eleven feet from the pin and he ran that putt four feet past. And how’s Stricker doing? Well, he doubled the first hole then followed that with back-to-back bogeys and finished with a 75. And at +7 for the tournament, he has only a dozen golfers behind him.