- US Open, Round Three, Plays of the Day
Return of the King
ESPN will be providing live commentary during all four days of the US Open from Congressional CC - along with all the news, views and opinion when it gets underway on Thursday
The ups and downs of Sergio
Sergio Garcia's mood is not the best and missing a birdie putt at nine and a par putt at 10 did little to improve things. It got worse on the 11th tee, as his ball hit a spectator and ricocheted into the water. He had the good grace to sign his glove and shake the spectator's hand and there was a little bit of justice about the brilliant long iron to the front of the green followed by a superb 20-foot putt for par.
Genius at work
The golfing world is waiting for a smile from Sergio, but it could be a while as he did not crack one despite the stunning piece of play on 15. A horror drive prompted some verbals in Spanish. He marched up to find himself with a tree in front of him and seemingly no shot. But Sergio is a conjuror with a club in his hand and he flashed the ball under the tree, up over a hill, and the ball bounced twice before hitting the pin. It settled 10-feet from the hole and he duly rolled the ball in for a birdie. The crowd were acknowledged for their cheers, but still no smile. Come on Sergio, we want you back.
The shortest stick
ESPN has to admit it has not seen a lot of Robert Garrigus, so to see him stand over his putt at the first hole really was a sight that prompted a double take. It was like he was using a chopstick, so small was his putter. You do get the feeling his doctor may wince every time he sees him step on to the green, as the way he hunches over the ball is reminiscent of Bilbo Baggins walking to the ship in the final scene of the Return of the King (one for you Lord of the Rings fans, there).
Learning your lesson
Rory McIlroy said he had learned plenty from his errant ways at Augusta. For 36 holes, that was not put to the test so pure did he strike the ball. Three holes into his third round he was handed his first mental test after a poor tee shot found the rough.
He had the choice of muscling the ball out in search of the green, which had a high tariff, or taking the medicine and chipping sideways in the hope of getting up and down for a par. He chose the latter then promptly flipped his chip to three feet and rolled in the par putt. It showed in an instant he had learned the lesson and had a clear head.
The rough is pretty deep around the greens but Sunghoon Kang took on the challenge with relish. His second shot buried in the rough, leaving him contemplating a bogey at best. But not a bit of it as he threw the wedge high in the air, a bounce forward and the ball tracked all the way into the cup. Kang's celebrations were fairly muted, but his caddie more than made up for it by orchestrating the crowd into a jig of delight.
The balls don't listen
Zach Johnson stood in the middle of the 11th fairway and flashed a hybrid all of 230 yards. The call from Johnson was 'be right'. It was good, but it was not right as the ball crashed into the pin and settled within two inches of the cup. They just don't listen.
GMac on the attack
Graeme McDowell found the putting surface on the par-five ninth in two. He was barely in the same postcode as the hole, but McDowell was undeterred and a swinging right to-left putt found the centre of the cup for an eagle.
I thought the McDowell putt was a good stroke, but it was not a patch on Masters champion Charl Schwartzel's effort on the third. He could have walked round the whole course and dropped the ball anywhere and not found himself further away from a cup. He putted up from the front of the green with a two-putt in mind, but it kicked up the ridge and dropped straight in. He might not be winning a second major of the year, but the South African will have good memories to take away from the US Open.