Golf: Brits wasting their time

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

THE impression that the 93rd US Open is an all-American affair was strengthened yesterday when Britain's finest took their hats off to Baltusrol and conceded defeat. One by one they limped in and filled the still, sultry air with blasts of resignation: Sandy 'I've got no chance' Lyle, Nick 'It's just a slog' Faldo and Ian 'It's a waste of time' Woosnam.

They were all reprieved after the second round when Lee Janzen, the leader at the half-way stage with a record-equalling six under par, did not take the opportunity of going to seven under. The leading 60 players, plus ties, plus anyone within 10 strokes of the leader survived the half-way cut and that meant that Lyle, Faldo and Woosnam, who were all four over after the second round, remained in the championship, exactly 10 strokes behind Janzen. Yesterday Janzen maintained his challenge with a 69 to stand at seven under par, one stroke in front of Payne Stewart.

The Scotsman Lyle, the Englishman Faldo and the Welshman Woosnam sounded as if they were not particularly grateful for the stay of execution. Lyle shot a level-par 70 in the third round. 'I needed a 66 to stand any chance,' he said. At least Lyle played with a degree of confidence, boosted by a birdie three at the first where he holed a putt from 25 feet. His putting, however, has not been the most impressive part of his game. At the 11th he hit a nice second shot to eight feet from the flag. He missed, missed again and instead of a birdie three he walked off with a bogey five.

After Lyle came Faldo and the pessimism was even more pronounced. The world No 1, following rounds of 70 and 74, managed a 73. 'I made a lot of birdies and holed a lot of putts,' he said sarcastically. A lot of people can birdie the 18th, a par five of 542 yards, but not our lot. Faldo was short of the green in two and when he pitched his ball about 20 feet past the flag he tossed his club away in disgust.

'It's the same old ball game,' he said. 'I'm not hitting it close enough and I'm not making any putts. It's just a slog . . . it's hard work . . . I've got no lift. I can't do it on the golf course. I just can't do it.' After Faldo who, on 217 is seven over par for the tournament, came Woosnam and if it was difficult to paint a blacker picture the Welshman somehow managed it.

In the second round Woosnam had a seven at the 18th after flapping around in the trees and he was so confident of missing the cut he cleared out his locker. It was wishful thinking. 'He threw a wobbly,' his wife Glendryth said. Yesterday Woosnam hit his approach shot at the 18th into a lake. He took a bogey six in a round of 72, which left him at six over par, 13 strokes behind Janzen. Tom Watson, the US Ryder Cup captain who partnered Janzen in the third round, dropped from four under to one under after a 73. Stewart, who won the US Open in 1991, improved his score by two strokes with a 68.

A loss of control off the tee undermined Woosnam's confidence and left him hot and bothered. At the 11th he drove so far right of the fairway that his ball found a bunker on the seventh hole. He lashed at that with a three-wood and escaped with a bogey five. 'I started hitting it all over the place,' Woosnam said. 'It was pretty hopeless . . . a waste of time. I'm too far behind. I've got no chance.' Dear oh dear. Come off it lads, the game's been good to you. Too good.

Jack Nicklaus, who won the US Open when it was last held at Baltusrol in 1980 - his 36-hole record of six under par was equalled here by Janzen, struggled yesterday but the same could not be said of his playing partner Fred Funk. Funk, who began the day at two over par, went to the turn in 33 and when he birdied the 11th, 12th and 13th holes, to move to two under par for the championship, his name appeared on the leaderboard. He came in with a 67 after dropping a stroke at the 15th.

Colin Montgomerie who, because of the oppressive heat, has been hitting the Anadin bottle, appears to be getting progressively worse. Big Monty has scored 71, 72 and 73 and he joined Woosnam on 216. 'I'm fed up,' he said, joining the British chorus. 'It is the saddest I've ever felt on a golf course.'

Barry Lane was the exception to the British malaise. Making his debut in the US Open, Lane goes into the final round today as the leading European. He shot 70 yesterday and on 212 is two over par. His was a refreshing outlook on the championship. 'I'm loving every minute of it,' he said.

Stewart reeled off 12 successive pars to stay four under and he made his move with a birdie at the 13th and another at the 18th. He may have looked somewhat garish - he was wearing shocking tangerine trousers and white shoes with bright gold tips - but his golf, although perhaps not as colourful, was very effective.

Nick Price, the US PGA champion, also figured prominently on the leaderboard following a 70, which put him at three under par for the championship.

US OPEN THIRD-ROUND SCORES

(US unless stated)

203

L Janzen 67 67 69

204

P Stewart 70 66 68

207

N Price (Zim) 71 66 70

208

P Azinger 71 68 69

D Edwards 70 72 66

209

F Funk 70 72 67

J Adams 70 70 69

C Parry (Aus) 66 74 69

W Levi 71 69 69

T Watson 70 66 73

M Standly 70 69 70

210

N Henke 72 71 67

M Donald 71 72 67

S Elkington (Aus) 71 70 69

I Baker-Finch (Aus) 70 70 70

F Couples 68 71 71

S Hoch 66 72 72

211

J Cook 75 66 70

J Sluman 71 71 69

R Floyd 68 73 70

M Calcavecchia 70 70 71

L Roberts 70 70 71

212

T Lehman 71 70 71

S Pate 70 71 71

L Nelson 70 71 75

E Els (SA) 71 73 68

K Perry 74 70 68

D Love III 70 74 68

R Allenby (Aus) 69 74 69

B Lane (GB) 74 68 70

C Stadler 67 74 71

J Daly 72 68 72

C Beck 72 68 72

J Maggert 69 70 73

C Pavin 68 69 75

213

T Schulz 71 73 69

B Estes 71 73 69

B Faxon 72 71 70

R Fehr 71 72 70

L Rinker 70 72 71

J D Blake 72 70 71

B Claar 70 71 72

(x) J Leonard 69 71 73

R Mediate 68 72 73

B Andrade 72 67 74

214

S Lyle (GB) 70 74 70

W Grady (Aus) 69 75 70

J Edwards 70 72 72

K Clearwater 71 72 71

D Forsman 73 71 70

G Twiggs 72 72 70

D Waldorf 71 72 71

S Gotsche 70 73 71

M Ozaki (Jap) 71 71 72

A Knoll 71 70 73

M Brooks 72 68 74

M Smith 68 72 74

J Ozaki (Japan) 70 70 74

B Gilder 70 69 75

P Jordan 71 70 73

B McAllister 68 73 73

M McCumber 70 71 73

215

M Christie 70 74 71

H Irwin 73 71 71

S Simpson 70 73 72

E Kirkby 72 71 72

B Thompson 71 73 71

V Heafner 70 72 73

F Allem (SA) 71 70 74

J Haas 71 69 75

216

I Woosnam (GB) 70 74 72

C Montgomerie (GB) 71 72 73

M Hulbert 71 73 72

G Waite (NZ) 69 73 74

C Strange 73 68 75

217

N Faldo (GB) 70 74 73

T Johnstone (Zim) 71 72 74

J Flannery 73 69 75

K Triplett 70 72 75

218

S Lowery 72 71 75

J Nicklaus 70 72 76

F Zoeller 73 67 78

219

S Flesch 71 70 78

220

S Stricker 72 72 76

D Weaver 70 73 77

M Weibe 71 72 77

R Gamez 70 72 78

221

R Wrenn 68 73 80

(x) denotes amateur

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