4-back, Grace in with a sniff at Shinnecock

Branden Grace (Getty Images)
Branden Grace (Getty Images)

Southampton - It was a bizarre third round of the US Open at Shinnecock Hills on Saturday.

The third round, dubbed 'moving day', certainly proved true. And while only three players posted under-par rounds, the rest lost ground on a difficult course in tough conditions.

Heading into the day, Dustin Johnson had a four-shot lead and some thought that the world No 1 would cruise to his second Major title.

However, it wasn't the case as Johnson recorded a 7-over par 77 to lose his position of dominance and had to settle for a share of the lead heading into the final round.

READ: Johnson shares US Open lead as Shinnecock takes toll

Three South Africans had made the cut with Branden Grace the top performer after the day's play had concluded. 

Grace carded four bogeys and two birdies for a 2-over par 72 to lie tied for 10th place - four shots adrift of the leaders.

The South African was blunt regarding the ruthless Shinnecock conditions.

"It was tough, it's really brutal out there," Grace told Sport24 after his effort on Saturday.

"I think if everything carries on the way it's going, the greens are going to get firmer and quicker so it really is tough. Fortunately, I'm breathing again now that everything is finished and I'm walking to the clubhouse now but the guys out there with nine to go has got a long day ahead of them."

Tough scoring conditions led to a 75.328 third round stroke average, with no golfer able to sign for a bogey-free card. Through 54 holes, there have only been 21 rounds under par.

Grace believes he is still in contention for - what would be - his maiden Major win.

"Anybody is catchable right now... and then looking ahead (on Sunday) it just depends on the run and shoot maybe one or three under and if those guys struggle, you're still in with a chance," he said.

"It's unfortunate at the end with the bogey on the last but it was a tough day. I got some lucky breaks so maybe those make up for one of those breaks I got."

"I don't think there's really much you can work on in this wind. I think it's more important now to get in there and get the body ready for tomorrow and get some rest. It's been a long day and I kind of just felt the day got longer and longer as the round went on but just some rest is needed," said Grace.

Grace tees off in the final round alongside England's Ian Poulter at 19:18 SA time.

The other South Africans still in the tournament also struggled, as Louis Oosthuizen finished his third round with a 5-over par 75 to lie tied for 33rd while Dean Burmester is tied for 50th after shooting a 5-over par in his first ever Major.

Third-round scores on Saturday in the 118th US Open Golf Championship at Shinnecock Hills (USA unless noted, par-70):

213 - Daniel Berger 76-71-66, Tony Finau 75-72-66, Brooks Koepka 75-66-72, Dustin Johnson 69-67-77

214 - Justin Rose (ENG) 71-70-73

215 - Henrik Stenson (SWE) 71-70-74

216 - Kiradech Aphibarnrat (THA) 76-72-68, Patrick Reed 73-72-71, Jim Furyk 73-71-72

217 - Brian Gay 73-74-70, Dylan Meyer 77-69-71, Tyrrell Hatton (ENG) 75-70-72, Branden Grace (RSA) 76-69-72, Ian Poulter (ENG) 69-72-76, Charley Hoffman 71-69-77

218 - Gary Woodland 79-69-70, Zach Johnson 73-73-72, Xander Schauffele 72-74-72, Bryson DeChambeau 76-69-73, Justin Thomas 74-70-74, Matthew Fitzpatrick (ENG) 73-70-75

219 - Webb Simpson 76-71-72, Francesco Molinari (ITA) 75-72-72, Paul Casey (ENG) 73-73-73, Ryan Fox (NZL) 73-72-74, Russell Knox (SCO) 73-71-75, Russell Henley 69-73-77, Tommy Fleetwood (ENG) 75-66-78, Scott Piercy 69-71-79

220 - Brendan Steele 72-73-75, Rafa Cabrera Bello (ESP) 73-71-76, Charles Howell 71-72-77

221 - Jhonattan Vegas (VEN) 76-72-73, Brandt Snedeker 72-76-73, Steve Stricker 73-75-73, Matt Parziale (USA) 74-73-74, Li Haotong (CHN) 79-68-74, Chris Naegel 73-73-75, Louis Oosthuizen (RSA) 74-72-75, Pat Perez 73-71-77, Alex Noren (SWE) 72-72-77, Marc Leishman (AUS) 74-69-78

222 - Bill Haas 76-72-74, Matthieu Pavon (FRA) 71-77-74, Luis Gagne (CRC) 73-74-75, Peter Uihlein 75-72-75, Sam Burns 71-76-75, Patrick Cantlay 75-71-76, Brian Harman 74-70-78

223 - Dean Burmester (RSA) 75-73-75, Aaron Baddeley (AUS) 74-72-77, Will Grimmer 73-72-78, Jason Dufner 70-74-79

224 - Cameron Wilson 75-73-76, Hideki Matsuyama (JPN) 75-70-79, Jimmy Walker 75-70-79, Mickey DeMorat 72-72-80

225 - Kevin Chappell 75-72-78, Calum Hill (SCO) 75-69-81, Tyler Duncan 77-67-81

226 - Tim Wilkinson (NZL) 76-72-78, Ross Fisher (ENG) 76-71-79, Rickie Fowler 73-69-84

227 - Phil Mickelson 77-69-81, Patrick Rodgers 72-72-83

228 - An Byeong-hun (KOR) 71-76-81, Andrew Johnston 73-73-82

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