With just three golfers playing below par the previous day, the odds of anyone carding a 30 on the back nine Saturday at treacherous Winged Foot appeared slim.
Englishman in New York Paul Casey certainly would not have pegged himself as the one to post that crazy closing score, especially after bogeying five of the first seven holes in the third round of the U.S. Open.
“Yeah, in all honesty I kind of wanted to walk in after the first five, six, seven holes. It was just ugly,” Casey said after finishing the roller-coaster day at 1-under 69 and 5-over for the tournament. “In fairness, it was incredibly difficult out there. It was windy this morning. It was cold.
“But then on the flip side, look what can happen if you suddenly start striking it well. When they flash up 69, yeah, it’s not the full picture, is it? You’ve got to dig a little deeper. It was a stressful day, but I’m happy with what I shot.”
Casey, who scored 76 and 70 in the first two rounds to barely make the cut, registered bogeys on each of the first three holes Saturday morning and two more on No. 5 and No. 7 to jump to 11-over. But he regrouped to birdie the par-5 eighth with a 15-foot putt to get back on track then caught fire on the second nine with five birdies (including four straight from 11-14) and four pars.
“I was just trying not to shoot 80, in fairness, after that front nine,” said Casey, the runner-up to Collin Morikawa last month at the PGA Championship. “No, actually for a moment there, I had to count my score because I thought there was every chance of a 29.
“I wasn’t sure what score I was on, I was just trying to take care of business. It went through my mind on the putt on the last [hole], I had to quickly add up and realize it wasn’t possible because I don’t know how many 29s would have been achieved at a U.S. Open, either. Probably fairly few.”
First-round leader Justin Thomas shot a low-round 65, but certainly few foresaw a stretch like Casey’s coming for anyone after Friday’s massacre by the unforgiving par-70 track.
“Look, I’m glad I finally got one off of Winged Foot,” the 43-year-old Casey said. “It takes its pound of flesh every single time you seem to play this golf course, so I feel like I got an ounce or two of my own flesh back.”
New York Post
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