It wouldn’t have taken much to do it at Congressional but Rory McIlroy only added to his lead on moving day of the U.S. Open. McIlory entered the third round at -11 which made him six shots better than the rest of the field. His -3 performance on Saturday gave him a more than comfortable eight shot lead heading into the fourth round. It also allowed him to make more history and set even more records.
Rory added the lowest 54-hole score, a three-day total of 199, which bests by one stroke the mark set in 2003 by Jim Furyk of 200. And with his birdie on 14, he became the first in history to reach 14-under at a U.S. Open. This sets the record for the most strokes under par at any point at a U.S. Open Championship.
The affable Irishman is meanwhile trying to unburden himself of a major leader that follows spectacularly below-par rounds with next day 80’s. Maybe developing a swagger’s the antidote? “Yeah, definitely. I think they go hand in hand, you know, being — having a little bit of attitude and a killer instinct. I think that’s what you need on the golf course, especially in the position that I find myself in. You can’t get complacent. You have to — no lead is big enough, so you need to just keep going.”
The quote of the day, however, belonged to Padraig Harrington who said that Rory could be the next golfer to break Jack Nicklaus’s 18 majors record. To which Rory responded “Oh, Paddy, Paddy, Paddy” and insisted that he’s still looking for his first.
Incidentally there were a couple of other golfers who managed to rally. Frederik Jacobson had a tremendous round going -5 with a brilliant stretch of three birdies in a four hole span. Jacobson’s -4 overall, a distant 10 shots off the lead and part of a group tied for sixth.
Doing a shot better than Jacobson, Lee Westwood sits at -5 for the tournament and had one of best rounds of the day at -6. Westwood’s scorecard was a little messier when he found bogey trouble on #4 but he more than neutralized the damage with a birdie-birdie-birdie stretch that started on #13 and ended with an eagle on #16. Westwood’s not alone in third place; he shares the honors with Robert Garrigus and Jason Day.
If you’re wondering how Phil Mickelson fared, the only word is terrible. Phil’s +7. On the back nine alone he had three bogeys and two double bogeys which at least distracts from the he’s-always-a-U.S.-Open-bridesmaid-never-a-bride conversation. That is probably the absolute only consolation since he blew off reporters for a second straight day.
As for tee times Sunday, Rory’s paired with Y.E. Yang who’s -6 and alone in second place. They’ll go off at 3:20.