The Herald on Sunday
Casey shines in the June Gloom
THEY call it the “June Gloom” in California. Here in Scotland, we would call it haar. You could imagine the Beach Boys singing about good old June Gloom but haar just doesn’t have the same jaunty ring does it? Whatever you want to call it, though, Paul Casey emerged from it as the on-song Englishman moved up the US Open hit parade in the early Pacific mist of Torrey Pines.
While his 48-year-old compatriot Richard Bland was warming up on the range in preparation to march out in the final pairing of the third round, Casey was, well, warming to the task as the West Coast sun tried to burn off the cloud.
The 43-year-old’s four-under 67 had him striding up the leaderboard on a level-par aggregate having just made the halfway cut on the fourover limit on Friday.
“It’s Saturday, you have to make birdies,” smiled the Ryder Cup stalwart of his barge up the order.
In total, Casey, who made his US Open debut back in 2003, packed seven birdies into his purposeful round, with four of them on a front nine of 31.
It was a day to get moving. The entire field was separated by nine shots heading into the third round. Those who had just squeaked into the weekend still harboured ambitions of hauling themselves back into contention even if history was not on their side.
According to those handy statisticians, 23 of the last 25 US Open champions were at, or within, two shots of the lead after 36 holes, with 24 of the last 25 winners inside the top six at the same stage.
Casey was certainly nowhere near that teeing up in the early San Diego murk but he made impressive inroads with that front nine thrust.
A bogey on the 12th halted that surging momentum but a raking birdie putt on the 13th, which was followed by another gain on the 15th, got him going again. Backto-back bogeys on 16 and 17 threatened to take some of the shine off the day but Casey finished with a flourish and made a four on the par-5 18th.
Playing alongside the upwardly mobile Jordan Spieth, Casey enjoyed being in the 2015 champion’s company.
Spieth began his campaign on Thursday with a damaging 77 but his repair job would draw nodding approval from Jay Blades and his restoration crew. A 69 on Friday got him inside the cut mark and his 68 in round three continued to see the Texan moving in the right direction.
“There was lots of energy between the pair of us,” said Casey of this dynamic duo. “It was definitely time to move up the leaderboard.”
Casey’s countryman Ian Poulter also got clambering in the early stages of round three with a 68 to move to level-par while Scotsman Robert MacIntyre was making steady progress at the halfway point of his third round.
The 24-year-old Oban lefthander, who has now made the cut in all of his six Major appearances, was level-par after nine holes and two-over for the championship.