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Opinion & Analysis

A painfully simple strategy to break 100 in your next round of golf

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Every golfer wants to break 100 at some point in their golfing career; for some, it unfortunately never happens. The thing is, it’s really not that difficult to accomplish if you have a sound strategy and are willing to tuck your pride away. I know, because this strategy worked for me.

Warning: This  will be painful, and it will be tempting to abort the mission, but it will be worth it when you add up strokes at the end and break 100.

In case you haven’t been following the Starting from Scratch series on GolfWRX, I recently switched from a right-handed golfer to a left-handed golfer (yes, that means putting and chipping, too).

Why did I switch? Back and wrist injuries. Plus I liked the challenge of trying to break 100 — and now the challenge of trying to break 90.

I took my first left-handed swings with left-handed clubs on May 7, and I shot 98 on May 24. While I have the benefit of years of practice and competition under my belt as a righty, the game felt foreign with my first swings from the opposite side. I struggled terribly topping and shanking the ball, and I even whiffed once with a 6 iron!

Despite being a complete novice as a south paw, however, I broke 100 after properly preparing, practicing intelligently, and sticking to a game plan. I firmly believe that nearly anyone — at least anyone who can currently shoot below 120 or so — can break 100 using my strategy in their next round of golf.

I hope this helps get you to that magical number: 99!

Note: If you’re topping, chunking or missing the golf ball entirely on more than 20 percent of your shots, it may be best to devote your time to the range to work out how to get the ball airborne with your irons, or seek help from your local golf pro.

1) Ignore par

This is far and away the most crucial part of my strategy to breaking 100. You’re not trying to make par, you’re simply trying to avoid making big numbers.

For me, that meant trying to have no worse than a bogey putt as your first putt on any hole. We don’t need to hit risky shots to try and get a par or birdie putt, possibly leaving us plugged in a bunker or something far worse. All we need is no worse than starting with a bogey putt on every hole. Assuming we can lag putt decently well for a two putt per hole, we’ll avoid any big numbers throughout the round.

What does this mean? If you’re 200 yards out on a par 4 on your second shot, hit two 100-yard shots. Break the yardage up into two shots, rather than trying to pull off a miracle. Let’s say you’re 165 yards and there’s bunkers all around the green, or a water hazard; why not hit two sand wedges and save yourself from a big number?

Most painfully, why do you need to go for the green on every par 3? Most par 3’s offer a fairway area or somewhere to bail out; take those offerings! If the goal is just to start with no worse than a bogey putt on every hole, then hit pitching wedge off the tee on a 180-yard hole and leave yourself with a half-sand wedge approach. Maybe you’ll even roll in that 15-footer for par, easing some stress on that next double bogey putt.

2) No triple bogeys

No one ever tries to make a triple bogey, I get that. But this is about damage control and limiting mistakes.

Remember, to break 100, you can make 9 double bogeys and 9 bogeys on a par 72 course. Triple bogeys are extremely costly, and will force you to make more bogeys, or even a few pars. We’re trying to keep things realistic here, so it’s easier to avoid those triples than make miraculous pars.

How do you avoid triples after topping one off the tee or shanking it into the trees? Easy. Get it back to the fairway immediately. Don’t try to slice one around the tree or hit a fairway wood out of the rough. Just get the ball back on solid ground using the most reliable club possible.

If things start going south on a hole, just try and make solid contact on the next shot. Nothing special, just get it airborne and back in play.

3) Limit your driver

The best way to avoid extremely costly errors off the tee is to avoid hitting driver altogether, or at least on holes that could give you trouble. For me, my strategy was to use driver only on long holes that were wide open with no risk of hitting it out of bounds or into the woods. I strayed from that plan on one hole, a long par-5, but it was tight off the tee.

The hole is long and the tee shot is difficult anyway, even with an iron, so I might as well try the driver,” I thought. Wrong decision. I topped it off the tee directly behind a tree and ended up making a 9 after compounding errors by airmailing the green on my approach shot.

When in doubt, hit iron off the tee… or the club you decide is most reliable like a hybrid or driving iron.

4) Love your irons

For my “reliable” club off the tee, I chose a 6-iron, which is the longest iron currently in my bag. I have a hybrid also, but I top that club way too often to even be an option off the tee unless it’s a risk-free tee shot.

That being the case, I was basically hitting irons all day long. Short irons, mid irons, longs irons; irons the entire round.

But that’s good, because I knew this was going to be my game plan all along, so I prepared for it. For each practice session leading up to my first round, I hit about 90 percent of the range balls using my irons. I worked simply on taking divots and getting the ball airborne. Draws.. fades.. who cares? I just wanted to learn how to compress the ball and be fairly reliable with an 8 or 9 iron. If you can reduce tops and get the ball airborne on most shots, I believe you can break 100.

4) No fairway? No green? No problem

As long as you’re between the tree line and not playing in U.S. Open rough, I would argue that it makes no difference whether you hit the fairway or not. The key is to get the ball in the fairway on your second shot, and get yourself in position to get the ball on or around the green from there.

Greens in regulation? Worrying about hitting the green and having a birdie putt will only hinder your score. You can break 100 without hitting one green in regulation, and you can shoot over 120 trying to hit every green in regulation.

Remember, the point is to have nothing worse than a bogey putt as your first putt on any hole. The point is NOT to make a bunch of birdies and pars.

5) No risks

If at any point you’re facing a shot where you think it could cost you a stroke if you don’t pull it off, just lay up! Hit the easy shot and save yourself the trouble. Taking any risks could lead to a snowball hole, and all of the sudden you make a 10 or worse. Even if you’re 150 yards from the green out of the rough, just hit the wedge and then worry about the next shot from the fairway.

Hey, I warned you. This strategy is painful, boring, and you must leave your pride at home.

6) Chipping: Ignore the pin, or putt it

Putt everything you possibly can. If there’s 10 yards of fairway ahead of you, but there’s no rough or bunkers to maneuver around, just putt it! Your worst putt is going to be better than chunking or skulling a chip shot attempt.

If you must chip the ball because you’re in the rough, aim at the fattest part of the green possible and just get it on the green. Don’t worry about the flagstick.

To break 100 you do not need to be Seve or Phil, you just need to limit the holes where you hit two, or three, or four chip shots to finally get it on the green. If you’re faced with a chip shot, simply try to get it on the green and limit any damage. Stop worrying about getting it “up-and-down.” We’re trying to break 100, not make the cut at a Tour event.

7) Lag putting

Every putt should be a lag putt. Putting when trying to break 100 is way more about avoiding three and four putts than it is about holing putts. If you have a 10 footer, make sure to worry more about speed than line. You don’t need to try and jam it through the break. Nestle it up to the hole and get yourself an easy tap in; if it goes in then that’s a bonus!

We cannot afford to have 4-5 foot comebackers all day; at some point, we will start to miss those putts and compound errors. Treat every putt as a lag putt.

8) Don’t get frustrated and bail

After making a few triple bogeys in a row, it will be incredibly easy to think “alright I need to make something happen, I need to make a few pars,” and start flailing away at the driver and hitting reckless approach shots.

Don’t do this! Stick to the plan.

Focus on staying within yourself and making solid contact on clubs that you can control. What makes you think that after two triple bogeys you can just starting swinging out of your shoes with a driver and it’s going to work? More likely, you’ll get increasingly frustrated, and probably shoot a much worse score because of it.

Remain disciplined to the plan for the entire 18 holes, and add up the score at the end.

9) Play away from hazards

This should be obvious by now, but if you see white or red stakes, or bunkers, play away from them. Each of these will lead to costly strokes and hits to the confidence.

Unless there are water hazards or bunkers or OB stakes on both sides of the fairway or green, play well away from the danger. Giving up half a stroke is better than losing a full stroke or likely more.

I’m lumping in bunkers to this group because I, for one, cannot get out of a bunker reliably as a lefty. It’s a risk for me to take on any flagstick guarded by a bunker because it’s much too easy for me to leave the ball in the bunker or completely skull it out. Therefore, I avoid bunkers at all costs.

10) Get the proper clubs for your game

This is a preparation strategy rather than an on-the-course strategy, but it’s arguably the most important.

I’ve played my whole life as a right-hander using “players irons” that have thin toplines and lack forgiveness. And I always said I hated the look of game improvement irons. But when switching to lefty, I knew I needed big-faced irons with huge toplines and wide soles. I needed irons that could get the ball in the air and help me on the inevitable mishits. I also needed wedges with huge soles and faces.

We’re trying to break 100, we’re not tour players. We must be realistic with ourselves in order to shoot the number we want. If you want to impress others with your clubs rather than breaking 100, this article was not for you.

Good luck, and here’s to breaking 100!

Listen

If you want to listen to our full podcast about the strategy to break 100, check it out on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

Watch

To watch the strategy in action, check out the video below.

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Andrew Tursky is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX. He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Tee-Bone

    Jun 15, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    Or you could just learn how to strike the ball properly, in which case breaking 80, not 100, becomes realistic.

  2. Bob Jones

    Jun 15, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Excellent. Many of these ideas would help someone break 80, too. I especially like #1. If it’s a long way to the green, hit two easy shots instead of a hard one and whatever else. 250 to the green? Easy! 7-iron and pitching wedge.

  3. Dennis Corley

    Jun 15, 2018 at 10:58 am

    Another pre-round technique that can compliment this article is the following:
    Step One : Re-set “Par” for each hole to “Double Bogey”.
    Step Two : Plan for two-putts per hole
    Step three: Play every hole “in reverse” to plan each hole, starting with 2 putts on the green. For example: 400 yard, Par 4:
    Step 1: Par is now 6
    Step 2: Strokes 5 and 6 are putts.
    Step 3a: Choosing most consistent/accurate club, say PW, “plan” to hit shot 4 from the fairway at the distance you “normally” hit the PW, say 100 yards,
    Step 3b: Subtract the distance you covered in the previous step from the total yardage of 400 and you have 300 yards left to cover. You could hit shots 3,2, and 1 ALL with PW. OR you could choose to use your 150 yard club off the tee on shot 1 which leaves you an extra shot to get to 100 yards out which will come in handy when you miss-hit some of those 150 yard first and second shots.

    You can use this strategy to attack any personal best goals by picking a reasonable stretch goal, assign each hole the appropriate new Par, and play each hole in reverse. It’s very hard to stick to the plan because no one wants to hit short or even mid irons off the tee. But the strategy works well assuming you pick goals within your current skill set.

    Dennis

  4. Nigel Kent

    Jun 14, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    How long has he been playing the game as a righty ? It looks like any course management skills he had acquired have flown out the window .

  5. Dave r

    Jun 14, 2018 at 10:21 am

    Good article. When I practice a lot my back gets sore ,so I have a left handed club and will practice with that for a few shots just to take relief off my left hip it works wonders for me. I played left handed for the first 5 years of golf never got lower than 32 cap the first year I switched went to 18 and never looked back. Sometimes change is hard just like practice but it does pay off.

  6. Painter33

    Jun 14, 2018 at 8:32 am

    Easiest way to break 100? Quit after the 14th hole. There is only one method – get better, which requires lessons and practice; a simple but demanding answer to the problem.

  7. NC Golfer

    Jun 14, 2018 at 8:30 am

    Pretty cool for someone who can’t break 100. It would eliminate the top and fat shots and slices out of bounds. Of course, many 100+ golfers don’t pitch, chip and putt well. But, I believe with experience those are areas that can be mastered as opposed to figuring out the full swing. It was nice to see the visual on this.

  8. Dave

    Jun 13, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    How does switching to Lefty get you under 100?

  9. Paul

    Jun 13, 2018 at 2:23 pm

    Good strategies.
    My first time breaking 90 strategy was similiar. Aim for 100 yard markers. All my lowest scores since then have come from aiming at 100 yard markers, and knowing how to hit it 90-120 for the approach shot. Never had so many short first putts.

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Podcasts

Gear Dive: Mizuno’s Chris Voshall speaks on Brooks Koepka’s U.S. Open-winning irons

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Mizuno’s Chief Engineer Chris Voshall speaks on how Brooks Koepka was the one that almost got away, and why Mizuno irons are still secretly the most popular on Tour. Also, a couple of Tiger/Rory nuggets that may surprise a few people. It’s an hour geek-out with one of the true gems in the club biz. Enjoy!

Related: Brooks Koepka’s Winning WITB from the 2018 U.S. Open

Listen to the full podcast below, or click here to listen on iTunes!

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Opinion & Analysis

Hear It, Feel It, Believe It: A Better Bunker Method

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The following is an excerpt from Mike Dowd‘s upcoming novel, “Coming Home.” 

After picking the last of the balls on the driving range, Tyler cornered Mack as he hit a few shots from the old practice bunker to wind down at the end of the day. Mack was hitting one after another, alternating between the three flags on the practice green and tossing them up about as softly as if he was actually lobbing them each up there underhanded.

Tyler just stood there, mesmerized at first by the mindless ease with which Mack executed the shot. Bunker shots, Tyler silently lamented, were likely the biggest hole in his game, and so after Mack had holed his third ball in a couple of dozen, Tyler finally decided he had to ask him a question.

“What are you thinking about on that shot, Mack?” Tyler interrupted him suddenly.

Mack hit one more that just lipped out of the closest hole, paused a few seconds, and then looked up at his protégé in what Tyler could only interpret as a look of confusion.

“What am I thinking about?” he finally replied. “I don’t know, Tyler… I’d hate to think how I’d be hittin’ ‘em if I actually started thinking.”

Tyler gave Mack a slightly exasperated look and put his hands on his hips as he shook his head. “You know what I mean. Your technique. I guess I should have said what exactly are you doing there from a mechanics standpoint? How do you get it to just land so softly and roll out without checking?”

Mack seemed to be genuinely considering Tyler’s more elaborately articulated question, and after a moment began, more slowly this time, as if he was simplifying his response for the benefit of a slightly thick-headed young student who wasn’t getting his point.

“You can’t think about technique, Tyler… at least not while you’re playing,” Mack replied. “There’s no quicker path back to your father’s garage than to start thinking while you’re swinging, especially thinking about technique. That’s my job.”

“Mack,” Tyler insisted, “How am I supposed to learn to hit that shot without understanding the technique? I’ve got to do something different than what I’m doing now. I’m putting too much spin on my shots, and I can’t always tell when it’s going to check and when it’s going to release a little. How do I fix that?”

“Well, not by thinking, certainly,” Mack fired right back as if it was the most ridiculous line of inquiry he’d ever heard. “A good bunker shot can be heard, Tyler, and felt, but you can’t do either of those if you’re focused on your technique. You feel it inside of you before you even think about actually hitting it. Watch, and listen.”

With that Mack swung down at the sand and made a thump sound as his club went through the soft upper layer of sand and bounced on the firmer sand below.

“You hear that?” Mack asked. “That’s what a good bunker shot sounds like. If you can hear it, then you can feel it. If you can feel it, then you can make it, but you can’t make that sound until you hear it first. Your body takes care o’ the rest. You don’t have to actually tell it what to do.”

Tyler still looked puzzled, but, knowing Mack as he did, this was the kind of explanation he knew he should have expected. Coach Pohl would have gone into an eight-part dissertation on grip, stance, club path, release points, weight transfer, and so forth, and Tyler suddenly realized how much he’d come to adopt his college coach’s way of thinking in the past four years. Mack though? He just said you’ve got to hear it.

“Get in here,” Mack said suddenly, gesturing to the bunker and offering the wedge to Tyler. “Now close your eyes.”

“What?!” Tyler almost protested.

“Just do it, will ya’?” Mack insisted.

“Okay, okay,” Tyler replied, humoring his coach.

“Can you hear it?” Mack asked.

“Hear what?” Tyler answered. “All I hear is you.”

“Hear that sound, that thump.” It was Mack’s turn to be exasperated now. “It was only moments ago when I made it for you. Can’t you still hear it?”

“Oh, remember it you mean,” Tyler said. “Okay, I know what you mean now. I remember it.”

“No, you obviously don’t know what I mean,” Mack replied. “I wanted to know if you can hear it, in your mind, hear the actual sound. Not remember that I’d made it. There’s a big difference.”

Tyler suddenly did feel kind of dumb. He wasn’t picking up what Mack was getting at, at least not exactly how he wanted him to get it, and so he sat there with his eyes closed and gripped the club like he was going to hit a shot, waggled it a bit as if he was getting ready, and then opened his eyes again.

“Okay,” he said suddenly. “I think I can hear it now.”

“Don’t open your eyes,” Mack almost hissed. “Now make it, make that sound. Make that thump.”

Tyler swung down sharply and buried the head of the wedge into the sand where it almost stopped before exiting.

“That’s not a thump,” Mack said shaking his head. “That’s a thud. You can’t even get the ball out with that pitiful effort. Give me that!”

He took the wedge back from Tyler and said, “Now watch and listen.”

Mack made a handful of swings at the sand, each one resulting in a soft thump as the club bottomed out and then deposited a handful of sand out of the bunker. Tyler watched each time as the head of the club came up sharply, went down again, hit the sand, and came back up abruptly in a slightly abbreviated elliptical arc. Each time Tyler listened to the sound, embedding it as he studied how the club entered and exited the sand. Mack stopped suddenly and handed the club back to Tyler.

“Now you make that sound,” he said, “and as you do remember how it feels in your hands, your forearms, your chest, and most importantly in your head.”

“What?” Tyler asked, looking back up at Mack, confused at his last comment.

“Just do it,” Mack said. “Hear it, feel it, then do it, but don’t do it before you can hear it and feel it. Now close your eyes.”

Tyler did as he was told, closing his eyes and then settling his feet in as he tried to picture in his mind what Mack had been doing. At first, he just stood there waggling the club until he could see the image in his mind of Mack hitting the sand repeatedly, and then he could hear the soft thump as the club hit the sand. He started to swing but was interrupted by Mack’s voice.

“Can you feel it?” Mack said. “Don’t go until you can feel it.”

“Well, at first I could see the image in my mind of you hitting that shot over and over again,” Tyler said, opening his eyes and looking at Mack, “and then I could hear it. It sort of followed right in behind it.”

“Ah, the image is a good starting point, but you can’t just see it and hear it, you need to feel it,” Mack replied, pointing to his head. “Feel it in here, and then you can feel it here,” he continued, putting his hands together like he was gripping a club. “Now close your eyes again.”

“Okay,” Tyler said, not sure he was getting it, but finally bought in. He settled in again and began waggling the club until he could see Mack swinging and hear the subtle thump of the sand. He let it just loop in his mind, over and over again, until suddenly he could feel it like he was the one doing it, and then he swung.

Thump came the sound as the flange of his wedge hit the sand. It was his swing, but it was different, maybe not to the naked eye, but in the speed, the level of tension, and the release. He opened his eyes again, almost tentatively, and looked at Mack with a combination of curiosity and amazement.

“I felt it that time,” Tyler said in a voice that seemed to resonate within from somewhere in the past. It almost sounded like Jackie’s in its exuberance.

“Yes… good,” Mack replied patiently. “Now close your eyes and do it again, but make sure you can feel it before you pull the trigger.”

Tyler settled in again, waited until, like the last time, he could see it, hear it, and then finally feel it… Thump… Something was slightly different this time, though, and Tyler opened his eyes to notice Mack kneeling down next to him. He had quietly deposited a ball into the place where Tyler had swung. Tyler looked up in the direction of the green and the target flag he had been aiming toward just in time to see a ball slow to a gentle stop about four inches from the flag.

“How’d you do that?” Tyler said, almost in wonder now.

“I didn’t,” Mack replied. “You did. You just had to stop thinking. See it, hear it, and feel it. Once you feel it, you can believe it. Anything more is more than we need. Any questions?”

As Mack turned to walk up out of the bunker, Tyler just stood there shaking his head a moment, looking at the spot in the sand, and then back up at the green as if to confirm the ball he’d seen roll to stop was still there. “I guess I’ve still got a lot to learn.”

“Well… yes and no,” Mack said cryptically as he turned back to look at him. “You pretty much know how to hit all the shots, Tyler. You’ve hit every one of them at one time or another. You’ve just got to learn how to empty your head of all those instructions so you can focus on finding the shot you need when you need it. It’s in there somewhere.”

“It’s hard to explain,” Tyler said, “but a lot of times I walk up and think I somehow just instinctively know what shot to hit without even thinking about it. I just kind of see it and feel it. It’s when I start to analyze things a bit more closely, factoring in all the things I know are important to consider like the wind, keeping away from the short side, where I want to putt from, and the best trajectory or shot shape for the situation, that I often start to second guess that feeling.”

“Ever heard the saying paralysis from analysis?” Mack asked. “It pretty much describes those moments.”

“Yeah, I get it,” Tyler replied, “but all that information is important. You have to consider everything and not just make a rash decision.”

“Sure, information is important, but you can’t get lost in it,” Mack countered. “Whether it’s golf, or just about anything else in life, Tyler, you need to learn to trust your gut. You’ve hit hundreds of thousands of shots in your life, Tyler. All those shots leave a mark. They leave an indelible little mark that gets filed away in your brain subconsciously, getting stacked one on top of the other. And after years of playing the game, those stacks and stacks of shots create an instinctive reaction to each situation. It’s like gravity. It pulls you in a certain direction so much that most of the time you almost know what club you should hit before you even know the yardage. Trust that, Tyler. Go with it, and know that first instinct comes from experience. There’s more wisdom in those gut reactions than just about anything else.”

“Thank you,” Tyler said after considering it a moment. “I think that’ll really help.”

“You’re welcome,” Mack replied. “Now rake that bunker for me and clean the balls off the green. I want to get things closed up before dark.”

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Opinion & Analysis

5 things we learned on Saturday at the 2018 U.S. Open

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Whoops, we did it again. While not as dramatic as the 7th hole concern of 2004, the Saturday of 2018 seemed eerily familiar. The commentators were divided on the question of whether the USGA was pleased with the playing conditions. The suggestion was, the grass in the rough was higher than necessary, and the cuts of the fairway and greens were just a bit too close of a shave. No matter, everyone finished and the band played on. The hashtag #KeepShinnyWeird didn’t trend, but Saturday the 16th was certainly not ordinary. Five weird things we learned, on the way.

5) Phil’s breaking point

It wasn’t violent. No outburst or hysteria. We’d seen Phil leap in triumph at Augusta. Now we’ve seen the Mickelson jog, albeit under most different circumstances. Near as we can determine, for a moment Phil forgot that he was playing a U.S. Open. After belting a downhill, sliding bogey putt well past the mark, the left-handed one discerned that the orb would not come to rest for quite some time: a lower tier beckoned. As if dancing a Tarantella, Phil sprang toward the ball and gave it a spank while still it moved. Just like that, his quadruple-bogey 8 become a 10, thanks to the 2 strokes for striking a moving ball penalty. In true warrior fashion, Mickelson accepted the penalty without questions, intimating that it saved him another stroke or two in the end. Yeesh. Phil, we feel you.

4) DJ’s front-nine free fall

Just as unlikely as Phil’s whack-and-walk was Dustin Johnson’s front nine of 41. The cool gunslinger of Thursday-Friday faced the same turmoil as the other 66 golfers remaining, and the outward nine did not go according to his plan. DJ got past the opening hole with par, after making bogey there on Friday. Number two was another story. Double bogey on the long par three was followed by 4 bogeys in 5 holes, beginning with the 4th. The irony once again was, Johnson struggled on holes that the field did not necessarily find difficult. Hole No. 2 was the 10th-ranked hole for difficulty on day 3, while 4 and 7 were 13th and 11th-ranked, respectively. Hole No. 6 and 8 did fall in the more difficult half, but not by much. At day’s end, however, the tall drink of water remained in contention for his second U.S. Open title.

3) The firm of Berger and Finau

Each likely anticipated no more than a top-15 placing after 3 days, despite posting the two low rounds of the day, 4-under 66. Those efforts brought them from +7 to +3 for the tournament, but Johnson and the other leaders had yet to tee off. Every indication was lower and deeper; then the winds picked up, blustery like the 100 acre wood of Winnie The Pooh. Both golfers posted 6 birdies against 2 bogeys, to play themselves into the cauldron of contention. Berger has one top-10 finish in major events, while Finau has 2. None of those three came in a U.S. Open, so a win tomorrow by either golfer would qualify as an absolute shock.

2) Recent winners fared well

In addition to Johnson, the 2016 champion, Justin Rose (2013) and Brooks Koepka (2017) found themselves near or in the lead for most of the afternoon. Since Shinnecock Hills offers much of what characterizes links golf, it should come as no surprise that 2016 British Open champion Henrik Stenson is also within a handful of strokes of the top spot. Rose played the best tee-to-green golf of the leaders on Saturday, but was unable to coax legitimate birdie efforts from his putter. Koepka was the most impressive putter of the day, making up to 60-feet bombs and consistently holing the clutch par saves. On another note, given his victories at Chambers Bay (2015 U.S. Open) and Royal Birkdale (2017 British Open), the missed cut by Jordan Spieth was the week’s biggest surprise.

1) The wind

The most unpredictable of nature’s weapons, the winds of Shinnecock Hills exposed flaws in the course preparation. Areas that would have held off-line putts, were dried out enough to escort those efforts off the shortest grass, into the runoff compartments. The zephyrs pushed tee balls and approach shots just far enough astray to bring all the danger zones into the recipe. Prediction for tomorrow is, any golfer within 5 shots of the lead has a chance at the title. A Miller-esque round of 63 would bring anyone into contention, if the wind continues to blow. No event appreciates drama more than the U.S. Open, and Sunday at Shinnecock promises plenty of it.

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