U.S. Open notebook: Patrick Reed could have ruined his own chances

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MAMARONECK, N.Y. — Patrick Reed probably shot himself out of contention with a back nine 43 that left him 7-over for the day and tied for 11th place. He goes into Sunday eight shots out after having a three-shot lead through three holes of his third round.

“Anyone in my position would be frustrated, especially with having the lead going into today,” he said.

Still, he was able to muster a bit of gallows humor.

“I got all my bad shots out of the way,” he said. “It was just one of those days. I couldn’t find a fairway, and from there trying to guess out of the rough all day, it was just hard. It was brutal.”

Reed lamented that when he did hit a quality shot, “it still ended up in a spot on the green that I had to be really defensive, couldn’t actually be aggressive with putting.”

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Xander Schauffele played with Matthew Wolff during the final round of the PGA Championship so he wasn’t surprised by what the 21-year old did to Winged Foot Saturday.

“He hits it really far. He hits it really high. He’s not afraid. And yeah, he doesn’t really care,” said Schauffele, who, in a three-way tie for fourth, will have to make up five shots. “I played with him the final round of the PGA Championship, and he destroyed that place, as well, and it was playing difficult there on the last day.”

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After the morning started out windy, Saturday turned into a perfect fall day so that Zach Johnson said, “I feel like I should be tailgating right now.”

By the time the late guys teed off, it was down to a gentle zephyr.

“I think we got very lucky with the draw today,” said Louis Ooosthuizen, who is alone in third, four shots out. “Waking up this morning, watching a bit of golf, you could see it was really cold, windy, and definitely died down for us. The sun came out a little bit. Definitely lucky on the draw today.”

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Rory McIlroy, who bounced back with a 68, was asked why all those predictions of another Massacre at Winged Foot, including from some of the players, haven’t materialized.

“I mean, what’s a massacre?” he asked. “OK, 5-over is not going to win like last time and 7-over when Hale Irwin won. I’d say the golf course is playing just as difficult.

“You’ve got to think 14 years, the game has changed a lot,” he said. “Guys hit it further, equipment. Scoring averages have went down a little bit, on average. The game has just moved on a little bit and everyone has collectively, I think, just got a little bit better.”

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John Pak, the Florida State All-American from Scotch Plains, N.J., was the only amateur to make the cut.

After starting the week with a 69, he went 76-79.

“I’m honored,” he said. “I played a very good first two days. Yesterday was just OK, but the first day I played great, and it feels good to know that I at least have one good round that I competed with some of the best players in the world. I’m so honored to be the low (amateur) for this week.”

Pak has one more goal for the week.

“I want to prove to people that I didn’t just have one good day,” he said. “I’ve worked hard to become the player I am today, and just want to put up a good number and just prove to people that I can play some golf.”

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Paul Casey came home in 30, the best score on the back nine all week. It gave him a 69 after going out in 39.

“I was just trying not to shoot 80, in fairness, after that front nine,” he joked. “Actually for a moment there I had to count my score because I thought there was every chance of a 29. It went through my mind on the putt on the last, I had to quickly add up and realize it wasn’t possible. I don’t know how many 29s would have been achieved at a U.S. Open, either. Probably fairly few.”

Casey said he was happy that he “finally got one off of Winged Foot.

“It takes its pound of flesh every single time you seem to play this golf course, so I feel like I got an ounce or two of my own flesh back.”

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Alex Noren, who made the cut on the number before turning in a 67 Saturday, simply improved his mindset.

“Yesterday I was very like angry man on the golf course, and my goal today was to putt better and be more — be in a little happier place. I just tried to be that way,” he said. “That’s maybe the key to the whole thing. Just view it as a normal tournament because, when you look at the putts, you look at the shots, and you stand on the tee boxes, there’s a lot more pressure on yourself.”

“These tournaments, all you try to do when you tee off is just to hit a good shot off the first and then take it from there,” he said. “The older I get, the more so is how everybody does it. You don’t really think about winning until you have the chance to win. I’m just trying to hit good shots and trying to warm up and do everything I can to just be in the best possible shape I can be golf-wise.”

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