Rory McIlroy fired a third round level par 70 at the US Open today. Needing a low round at Chambers Bay to get back into contention, the World Number One birdied the second and seventh but dropped shots at the 11th and 15th.
With the leaders, Patrick Reed and Jordan Speith still to go out, McIlroy, who passed up a number of good birdie chances, remained nine shots behind. Ireland’s Shane Lowry dropped a shot at the second as he got his third round underway.
The course has come in for heavy criticism in some quarters, with Spieth calling the 18th “a dumb hole” when played as a par four and Henrik Stenson comparing the greens to “putting on broccoli” - a point he illustrated in typical fashion with a picture on Twitter suggesting he was having broccoli for lunch.
Ryder Cup team-mate Lee Westwood said most players were “too afraid” to say what they thought about the course in public, but on the 50th anniversary of his sole US Open victory at Bellerive, Gary Player was not so reticent and laid the blame at the door of course designer Robert Trent Jones Jr.
“We’re playing the US Open, this great championship... but this has been the most unpleasant golf tournament I’ve seen in my life,” Player, 79, told Golf Channel. “The man who designed this golf course had to have one leg shorter than the other.
“It is hard to believe that a man can miss the green by one yard and the ball ends up 50 yards down in the rough. This is a public course where we are trying to encourage people to come and play and get more playing the game. They are having a putt from 20 feet and they are allowing 20 feet right and 20 feet left.
“You don’t bring the US Open to golf courses like this. This is devastating. To see a man miss the green by one yard and end up 50 yards down there, caddies falling and hurting their ankles and knees, players falling... this is terrible.
“It’s actually a tragedy - 7,900 yards long. An average golfer playing this course, a 15 or 16 handicap, he is going to shoot 110 and not go home a very happy man.
“We have to make golf quicker and more enjoyable. We are going about it the wrong way. They are building these crazy courses as a defence against the ball going too far. We have to cut the ball back.
“You have got to give the architect the blame. It’s impossible to play these golf courses. Did you see how these pros were three putting one after the other? Sergio (Garcia) three-putted the 18th to make the cut.
“I tell you, there have never been so many people to miss the cut that are so happy to go home.”