SOUTHAMPTON, United States (AFP) – Dustin Johnson surrendered a four-shot lead to fall into a four-way tie atop the US Open leaderboard as Shinnecock Hills again battered the world’s best golfers on Saturday.
World number one Johnson closed with a three-putt bogey at the 18th in a seven-over par 77 that left him tied on three-over par 213 with Daniel Berger, Tony Finau and defending champion Brooks Koepka.
Berger and Finau teed off early and stormed up the leaderboard with four-under par 66s, playing before sunshine and sea breezes dried out the course.
Johnson, four-under and leading by four heading into the round, was in trouble early with his first double bogey of the week at the par three second. His four bogeys on the front nine included three in a row at six, seven and eight.
‘‘I didn’t feel like I played badly at all,’’ Johnson said. ‘‘Seven-over usually is a terrible score, but with the greens the way they got this afternoon – they were very, very difficult.’’
As he struggled, England’s Justin Rose and Sweden’s Henrik Stenson tussled for the lead.
But Rose had three bogeys in a row at eight, nine and 10 and bogeyed two of his last three to come in with a 73 that left him tied for fifth on 214.
‘‘I’ve never seen golf course change that quickly,’’ Rose said. I don’t think the course was necessarily over the line, but pin placements relative to speed and firmness … the edge was reached.’’
Stenson capped his four-over 74 with a bogey at 18 and was alone in sixth on 215.
Despite all the difficulties, Johnson steadied himself to arrive at the 18th tee with a one-stroke lead. His approach from the fairway bounced near the pin and rolled 17 feet past. His first putt raced past the hole and his par attempt burned the edge but didn’t drop.
Koepka, who had two birdies and four bogeys in his two-over 72, voiced concern that the golf course would hold up through the final round.
‘‘I hope these greens are good enough to play tomorrow,’’ said Koepka, who lifted the trophy at Erin Hills last year with a record-equalling 16-under par total. ‘‘They’re very borderline right now to be honest with you.’’
Finau and Berger both notched six birdies in their four-under efforts. The day’s only other sub-par round was Kiradech Aphibarnrat’s 68, which put the Thai into a tie for seventh on six-over.