Jason Day started well and Marc Leishman finished well, but neither did it long enough today to challenge for the US Open crown.
With Aussies Day, Leishman and Cameron Smith all starting at one over in the third round, they all knew the chance to push up to the brink of Sunday contention was within their grasp.
Day had the best shot at it when he cashed in on a brilliant approach to the par-five sixth to make eagle and jump into red figures at Pebble Beach.
But try as he might, the Queenslander simply couldn’t find a birdie anywhere else on course and just one bogey on the 13th meant he carded a 70 – including a great par from the beach on the 18th – to finish even par in total.
“I wish the finishing holes were a little better. That wind is a lot stronger than you think (so I) pulled up short on a couple of holes coming in,” Day said.
“But overall it was pretty good; my short game saved me coming in and I hit some pretty good shots early on to give myself a few looks at it.”
Leishman hit two wayward drives on the second and fourth holes and paid for them both with bogeys to fall back to three over.
The Victorian might well have played the best golf of any player in the field from the ninth onwards, going three under from there to match Day with a 70 to be even par in total.
“I’m not disappointed with 70 by any means,” Leishman said.
“Any time you shoot under par in the US Open you’re happy, but I had a different score in mind at the start of the day.
“I knew that I had hit a bad shot on four to make that bogey. And I did the same on two. So I deserved the bogeys. What was good was that I didn’t let any of that get to me. I’ve let that happen in the past in US Opens, but I was determined not to do that again today.
“A low number is definitely out there. I’d like to see the sun come out and the course firm up. If that happens, a half-decent score tomorrow will go a lot further.”
Smith, conversely, couldn’t find any magic at all, even with his normally lethal wedges.
The young Queenslander had a couple of bad breaks midway through his round and didn’t find a birdie until the last hole en route to a 77 that left him seven over par in total.
“It was pretty terrible to start, didn’t have anything going really,” lamented Smith, who played with Day.
“I could have given up quite easily, but I tried to hang in there because Jase was playing good golf and I didn’t want to put that on him.
“So I tried to stay in there and (fight). The last 7-8 holes was pretty good actually … so tomorrow will be a good test for next week.”