An epic ef­fort from Jason Day for four-way tie at the US Open

The China Post - - SPORTS - BY DOUG FER­GU­SON

The tough­est test in golf met one tough player Satur­day at the U.S. Open.

Jason Day had ev­ery rea­son to with­draw when he col­lapsed on the fi­nal hole of his sec­ond round with a nasty bout of ver­tigo. He gave it his best shot un­der the stiffest con­di­tions yet at Cham­bers Bay. The ver­tigo re­turned on the back nine, along with nau­sea. When he turned his head to­ward the tar­get, he had to wait for his eyes to stop danc­ing be­fore he could swing. He thought about quit­ting three times. And it was worth it. With three birdies on the last four holes, Day stag­gered off the course with a 2-un­der 68 and his name atop the leader­board. He was part of a four-way tie with Mas­ters cham­pion Jor­dan Spi­eth, Dustin John­son and Branden Grace of South Africa.

One day af­ter his col­lapse, Day was stand­ing taller than ever.

“That was the great­est round I’ve ever watched,” said Colin Swat­ton, his cad­die and long­time coach who whis­pered words of en­cour­age­ment along the hilly ter­rain of Cham­bers Bay. “I said, ‘You’ve got the heart of a lion. You get to show the world to­day you get to be the great­est you can be and look, let’s do it.’ And he just put his head down and kept walk­ing, one foot in front of the other. It was pretty im­pres­sive.”

And now he gets to play in the fi­nal group of a ma­jor for the first time.

All it took was a per­for­mance that brought to mind Ken Ven­turi win­ning the U.S. Open at Con­gres­sional in 1964 with a 36- hole fi­nal while suf­fer­ing from heat ex­haus­tion and se­vere de­hy­dra­tion, and Tiger Woods win­ning the U.S. Open at Tor­rey Pines in 2008 with a shat­tered left leg.

Day still has one day to go and a course that is get­ting faster and scarier by the day. And he has plenty of com­pany.

Spi­eth had four three- putts, missed birdie chances in­side 12 feet on the last three holes and still wound up in a tie for the lead with a 71 as he tries to be­come only the fourth player since 1960 to win the first two legs of the Grand Slam. The oth­ers were Woods ( 2002), Jack Nick­laus ( 1972) and Arnold Palmer (1960).

John­son gets a fourth shot at his first ma­jor. He also wasted good birdie chances with his power — a tee shot that landed on the front of the green at the 372-yard 16th hole (three-putt par) and a big drive on the par-5 18th. He hit 3-iron into a bunker and made par for a 70.

John­son also was in po­si­tion to win the 2010 U.S. Open at Peb­ble Beach, the 2010 PGA Cham­pi­onship at Whistling Straits and the 2011 Bri­tish Open.

Grace over­came a rough patch in the mid­dle of his round — three bo­geys in five holes — and shot a 70. The lead­ers were at 4-un­der 206.

Day chose not to speak to the media out of sheer ex­haus­tion. He of­fered a few com­ments to a USGA of­fi­cial, and then headed to his mo­tor home to lie down.

He said it was worse than the ver­tigo he suf­fered last year at Fire­stone that caused him to with­draw. This time, he kept play­ing.

For ev­ery­one else, mat­ter of hang­ing on.

Spi­eth holed a pair of 35-foot birdie putts early and stretched his lead to three shots un­til he gave them back with a pair of three-putts, slap­ping his knee at the mis­cues.

John­son built a two- shot lead early on the back nine, only to give it back with a dou­ble bo­gey on the 13th hole with a 7- iron into the bunker and three putts. It was his only bad swing of the day. John­son hit all 14 fair­ways.

Louis Oosthuizen, mean­while, set him­self up for a shot at U.S. Open history. No one since World War II has ever shot 77 in the first round of the U.S. Open and gone on to win. Oosthuizen was part of that hor­ror show with Tiger Woods (80) and Rickie Fowler (81) in the open­ing round. He fig­ured he would be watch­ing the week­end at his home in Florida. In­stead, he shot 66 to make the cut, and the South African shot another 66 on Satur­day and was at 1-un­der 209.

Oosthuizen was joined by Cameron Smith of Aus­tralia (69), Shane Lowry of Ire­land (70) and J.B. Holmes (71). No one else was un­der par, through 14 play­ers were sep­a­rated by five shots go­ing into Sun­day.

it was a

AP

Jor­dan Spi­eth watches his tee shot on the 14th hole dur­ing the third round of the U.S. Open golf tour­na­ment at Cham­bers Bay on Satur­day, June 20.

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