BETHESDA, Md. (AP) — Three years after hosting a U.S. Open, Congressional Country Club is finally playing like a U.S. Open.
Thick rough and fast, firm greens kept the scores high Saturday at the Quicken Loans National. There were no bogey-free rounds, and the average score was 72.48 on the par-71 layout.
“At the start of the day, we probably knew that anything under par was going to be a really good score,” said Marc Leishman, who shot a third-round 73 but was only two strokes off the lead. “I actually said to my caddie on the back nine, ‘It feels a bit like a U.S. Open’ because there were a few pins that you really didn’t have a chance to get at.
“But I think that’s good. You know it’s a tough golf course. It’s long. If you’re not in the fairway, you have no chance. If you are on the fairway and you hit a good shot, you can make birdie. I think it’s great to change it up like that occasionally where par is a really good score.”
When the U.S. Open was last played at the course in 2011, humid weather stunted the growth of the rough leading up to the event, then heavy rains soaked the course and made the greens receptive. Rory McIlroy broke a record by shooting 16 under for the tournament.
It’s safe to say no one will approach that score Sunday. Leader Patrick Reed was 6 under after a 71 on Saturday.
Justin Rose, who won the U.S. Open at Merion last year, was rooting for similar conditions for the final round. At 3 under, he was one of 10 players within three shots of the lead.
“The only fear I have is it’s such a bunched leaderboard that if they dump some water on the golf course and we still get a hot day like we did today, someone could really come out early tomorrow and post a number,” Rose said, “which I think won’t really suit the leaders too much. Obviously I’d be a fan of them letting them go a little bit and making this a tough tournament and sort of having another U.S. Open.”
Rose had an eventful day: five birdies, three bogeys and one double bogey, including a bogey-birdie-birdie-bogey finish.
“That’s what I’ve said all week,” Rose said, “that (what) I enjoy about this golf course is that par is often a good score. And it became a really good score this afternoon.”
AUSSIES HANG TOUGH: There were two Australians in Saturday’s final group, one veteran and one who has just arrived on the tour.
The experienced one — Leishman — fared better with a 73, but the 76 from Oliver Goss was hardly an embarrassment given the difficult conditions at Congressional.
Goss is playing his second tournament as a pro after two years at the University of Tennessee. He was the low amateur at the Masters in April.
“He bombs it off the tee,” Leishman said. “Really, really rips it. Doesn’t look like he’s swinging that hard at it. I saw him from a distance for the first time on Thursday and saw him hit a shot and thought, ‘Doesn’t look like he is swinging it hard.’ But today he was smashing it.”
Goss’ challenging day included a 3-putt from 10 feet for a double bogey at No. 12.
“Today a few tap-ins, they got away from him,” Leishman said. “But I think that’s the stuff you learn from, be a bit more careful. Yeah, I think he’s got a bright future.”
FREDDIE’S FASHION: Freddie Jacobson broke out the lavender knickers Saturday, a fashion statement that was pretty cool — literally.
“It’s been kind of hot this week here,” the Swede said. “So I thought, let’s air it out a little bit this weekend and bring them out.”
ACE YOUR MORTGAGE: Peter Hanson’s hole-in-one was worth a load of house payments.
The Swede aced the par-3 second hole with a 4-iron from 222 yards Saturday, winning a year’s worth of mortgage payments for Arline Deacon of Fayetteville, Georgia, in a contest conducted by tournament’s sponsor, Quicken Loans.
It was Hanson’s first hole-in-one on the PGA Tour and the 11th on the tour this season.
“It was always kind of a weird feeling to see the ball disappear,” Hanson said. “Everybody that played the game that had a hole-in-one knows what it’s like, and it’s a great feeling.”
Follow Joseph White on Twitter: http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP
Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.