Wolff charges into lead at U.S. Open after 65

By Sports Desk September 19, 2020

Matthew Wolff equalled a U.S. Open record and is on track to make further history after taking a two-stroke lead in the third round.

Wolff carded a five-under 65 on Saturday, equalling the lowest round produced at Winged Foot at a U.S. Open.

The 21-year-old American blitzed the front nine in New York, making five birdies before a consistent back nine included a bogey and birdie.

Wolff's round came after hitting just two of 14 fairways, but he reached five under and a two-shot lead.

His 65 matched the round Justin Thomas managed on Thursday to set the record at Winged Foot.

If he wins, Wolff would become the first player to claim the U.S. Open on tournament debut since Francis Ouimet in 1913.

Bryson DeChambeau (70) sits second at three under and Louis Oosthuizen (68) is the only other player under par at one under.

DeChambeau opened his round with back-to-back bogeys before picking up a shot at the seventh.

The American then made birdies at 16 and 17, but could only manage a bogey at the par-four 18th.

Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open Championship winner, is also in contention after mixing four birdies with two bogeys.

Hideki Matsuyama (70), Xander Schauffele (70) and Harris English (72) are at even par, a shot ahead of Rory McIlroy (68).

But it was a forgettable third round, and in particular back nine, for overnight leader Patrick Reed.

The 2018 Masters champion was one under through nine holes before falling apart to shoot a 77 and sit at three over, tied for 11th.

Reed bogeyed six of his final nine holes and had a double bogey at the 11th, where he struggled to recover from the rough.

Thomas is at four over, while world number one Dustin Johnson was again unable to get much going, shooting a 72 to be at five over.

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    Justin Thomas fired another seven-under 65 to grab a one-stroke lead at the halfway mark of the Zozo Championship on Friday.

    The American produced a bogey-free second round at Sherwood Country Club in California to move into 14 under.

    Thomas, the 2017 US PGA Championship winner, made five birdies on the back nine – his first nine holes – before a solid finish.

    The world number three, Thomas has enjoyed a fine year, including winning twice. He has multiple wins in every year since 2017.

    Back-to-back 65s have given Thomas a one-stroke lead over Dylan Frittelli and Lanto Griffin, while Patrick Cantlay and Scottie Scheffler are a stroke further back after all four also shot 65s.

    The round of the day belonged to Richy Werenski, who broke Tiger Woods' course record with a stunning 11-under 61.

    Werenski birdied nine of his first 12 holes after starting his round at the 10th and he picked up another shot at the fifth to put him on track to break 60.

    However, a bogey at the par-four sixth hurt his chances, although he responded with birdies at seven and nine to get to 11 under and a tie for sixth.

    Abraham Ancer (66), Harris English (67), Bubba Watson (63), Tyrrell Hatton (68), Patrick Reed (63), Tony Finau (64) and Kevin Kisner (67) are all alongside Werenski.

    Woods, in action for the first time since the U.S. Open, bounced back from his opening-round 76 with a six-under 66.

    Despite his improvement, the defending champion and 15-time major winner is well back at two under to be tied for 66th.

    It was a similar story for Rory McIlroy, who carded a 67 to get to four under, although the Northern Irishman is 10 strokes behind Thomas.

    Overnight leader Sebastian Munoz dropped back into a tie for 14th after carding a two-under 70.

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    Colombian golfer Munoz carded an eight-under-par 64 to top the leaderboard in Thousand Oaks, where the tournament is taking place after being relocated from Japan due to the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions.

    Munoz – eyeing his second Tour title – holed two eagles, eight birdies, a double bogey and two bogeys at Sherwood Country Club.

    The 27-year-old recorded his second eagle of the day on the par-five 16th, holing out from 51 yards to mark the third instance in his Tour career with two eagles in a single round.

    England's Tyrrell Hatton and American star Justin Thomas – who ended the day eagle-birdie-birdie – are a shot off the pace heading into Friday's second round, while Brian Harman, Lanto Griffin, Kevin Kisner, Harris English and Dylan Frittelli are stroke further back at six under.

    World number two Jon Rahm and Jason Day were among the players to post first-round 68s in a field missing top-ranked golfer Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott due to positive coronavirus cases.

    After claiming his maiden Tour title via last week's CJ Cup at Shadow Creek, Jason Kokrak shot a three-under-par 69 to be tied for 26th alongside the likes of Xander Schauffele and Matthew Wolff.

    Searching for his first victory since 2017, former world number one Jordan Spieth opened with a 70, just like 2018 Masters champion Patrick Reed.

    Rory McIlroy – a four-time major champion – recorded a one-over-par 73, a shot worse off than Phil Mickelson.

    As for Woods, his title defence and bid for a record-breaking 83rd Tour crown started with a forgettable four-over-par 76 that left him 12 strokes behind Munoz.

    Making just his eighth start of 2020 and playing for the first time since missing the U.S. Open cut ahead of next month's Masters defence, Woods played three par-five holes over par in the same round for the first time in his illustrious career.

    Woods carded a three-over 39 on the back nine, which included a double bogey and two bogeys to go with a solitary birdie.

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    It was announced on the eve of the tournament at the Sherwood Country Club in Thousand Oaks, California, that Scott has returned a positive COVID-19 test.

    The 2013 Masters champion is self-isolating and will be replaced in the field for the PGA Tour event by Jim Herman.

    "While it’s difficult news to receive – as I really looked forward to playing this week – my focus now is on recovery for the final stretch of the fall," Scott said

    The Australian has won 14 PGA Tour titles, most recently at the Genesis Invitational in February.

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