To say there has been a huge degree of controversy over the layout of Shinnecock Hills for the 2018 U.S. Open would be a vastly understated understatement, as the course, moderately benign for the first two days, by U.S. Open standards at least, turned ugly for the third round with dry conditions and stiff breezes that made the best pros in the world look totally foolish.
As is sometimes the case, those who went out early got their rounds in before the course started to fall apart.
Daniel Berger and Tony Finau both 11 shots out of the lead and dangerously close to missing the cut following the second round, shot four-under par 66s. Nearly four hours later, when Shinnecock was done dishing out abuse, the leaders came back to Berger and Finau, whom by dint of finishing first at three over par, will be the final pairing for the fourth round.
Jason Day and Adam Scott both failed to qualify for weekend play.
Marc Leishman, in the relative thick of things after managing to shoot 74 and 69 in the first two rounds, lost contact with the field after skying to a 78 in the third round. Leishman is two shots ahead of Aaron Baddeley. Leishman if eight shots off the lead and Baddeley 10, but after yesterday, they cannot be ruled out entirely.
The frustration of the players, accustomed as they are to playing exquisitely manicured tracks, found the putting surfaces so diabolical that it is hard to describe.
Even the USGA freely admitted that some of the pin placements they selected were actually punitive of good shots and we saw more than one ball land in reasonable proximity to the pin, only to trickle off and leave the player with mouth agape.
Phil Mickelson at one point was so frustrated that he at one point, after having struck a short putt that went past the hole and was destined to roll far off the green, struck the ball while it was still moving, accepting a two-stroke penalty that ultimately resulted in his recording a 10 on the hole.