I was scrambling all over the place today. I didn’t find a fairway until the 10th hole, but I was happy with the way I hung in there. – Tony Finau
UNIVERSITY PLACE, Wash. – For Utah golfers Tony Finau and Daniel Summerhays, their time on the U.S. Open leaderboard was short-lived as both players had their struggles Saturday in the third round at the rock-hard, burned-out Chambers Bay Golf Course.
The two Utah natives started the day in a tie for fifth place, just two shots off the lead, but both golfers bogeyed the first hole and had challenges in different areas – Finau with the driver and Summerhays on the greens – as they fell out of contention.
Finau shot a 74 and sits at 211 total while Summerhays finished with a 78 for a 215 total. Finau tees off Sunday at 3:00 p.m. MT with Henrik Stenson while Summerhays goes off at 12:24 p.m. MT with amateur Denny McCarthy.
While Finau is still within shouting distance, five shots off the pace set by four golfers, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Brendan Grace and Masters champion Jordan Spieth, he would have to leapfrog eight players with a low number Sunday afternoon to claim the trophy.
Although he said he felt calm from the start, Summerhays started off with three straight bogeys, righted his ship in the middle of his round, only to go 4-over on a late 3-hole stretch and finish with the 8-over score that left him nine shots off the pace.
Finau still stands in the top 10 in a tie for ninth place with six other golfers at 1-over-par 211. But he was disappointed with his finish, making one of the few bogeys of the day among the entire field on the par-5 18th hole. A birdie there would have put him in tie for fifth place, where he started the day, just three strokes off the lead.
“I was scrambling all over the place today,’’ Finau said. “I didn’t find a fairway until the 10th hole, but I was happy with the way I hung in there.’’
Summerhays was uncharacteristically critical of the course setup afterward, saying it favored the “bombers” and that it has “taken the putter out of the game.’’
He said a lot of the greens were “baked-out” and “dirt” and some of the bunkers he got into late in his round either had rocks or not enough sand.
“It was a comedy of errors,’’ he said. “I stayed really patient until the 16th hole and then it broke me down.’’
Summerhays had made a birdie at 8 and saved par with a long putt at 11 but went bogey-double bogey-bogey at 15-16-17 before making a birdie at No. 18.
“I hate to say it but they’ve taken putting out of the game here for sure and putting’s always been one of my strong suits,’’ he said. “So that was really disappointing to have it all be up to luck and to hit a lot of good putts and not have anything go in.’’
Unlike Summerhays, Finau’s putter saved him on several occasions.
He made a 10-footer at 11 to save par, a 5-footer at 12 for par, an 8-footer at 15 for birdie and just missed birdie putts at 16 and 17.
“The putter was working just to keep me in it,’’ Finau said. “It would have been nice to finish a little better to put myself into better position going into tomorrow.
I’m still in contention for sure. I’d like to close that gap on the front nine tomorrow.’’
Finau has a chance, as does Summerhays, with a really low round, to earn some favors with a good finish.
The top 10 finishers earn a spot in next year’s U.S. Open while the top four receive invitations to The Masters.
Summerhays is staying positive and feels good about his overall game, despite his score Saturday.
“I’m still looking forward to tomorrow and the next several tournaments because I feel I’m still playing well,’’ he said. “I’ll try and regroup and stay optimistic and stay positive.’’