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Furyk’s 66 contained only one little mistake

OAKMONT, Pa. – Another U.S. Open at Oakmont Country Club, another close call for Jim Furyk.

The Pennsylvania native carded the round of the day Sunday at the 116th U.S. Open, a 4-under 66 that contained nary a blemish – until the 18th hole.

A wayward drive into the right rough led to Furyk’s only bogey of the round.

“The one regret – I wish I’d have got that ball on the fairway at 18,” he said after his round. “It would have been a little more exciting. I got ahead of it a little bit, got the club trapped behind me and started the ball up further right than what I was hoping to do. … I was trying to kind of ride it and rip one down there and leave myself a mid-iron to the green.”

The last time the Open was at Oakmont in 2008, Furyk finished in a tie for second place behind Angel Cabrera. His total of 1-under 279 put him there again.

The 46-year-old is a lifelong Steelers fan with deep Pennsylvania roots. He was born in West Chester, grew up in Lancaster and went to high school in Manheim Township.

“I heard all kinds of stuff from Western Pa.,” Furyk said. “I heard every little town and borough through here. … I had a lot of places claiming me. It was a lot of fun.”

Furyk’s chances at winning took a severe hit in the third round Saturday, when he shot a front-nine 41. He had no other nine-hole scores higher than 1-over 36 the rest of the week.

“I didn’t do a lot wrong,” he said. “I missed one fairway – No. 4. I don’t know how I screwed it up from the fairway so bad. Oakmont has a way to turn pars into bogeys and bogeys into doubles. It all kind of happened to me in nine holes.”

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A three-putt on the eighth green Saturday during the third round of the U.S. Open was all Danny Willett could take.

As he walked across the bridge that goes over the Pennsylvania Turnpike to his ninth and final hole of the day, Willett took his anger out on the bridge with his putter.

Just one problem: That’s a pretty historic club, the one he used in April to win the Masters, and now … “unfortunately, it’s in two pieces.”

“We’ll have to get it refurbed and then I won’t be using it again,” Willett said after his round.

Willett took 129 putts over four rounds – finishing the ninth hole Saturday with a wedge.

“It’s not really going to put you anywhere near contention with that amount of putts on this golf course,” he said. “You need to get it up and down a lot, and we three-putted a lot. Things just haven’t been quite there. I’m a bit disappointed with the week, but could have been a lot worse.”

Willett finished at 9-over par after a round of 71 Sunday. He happened to have an extra putter with him to complete Sunday’s round.

“Luckily enough, I did this week,” he said. “The putter has been bad all week. … Just a bad week on the greens. They’re tricky to read, tricky to keep the pace and line the same.”

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Brooks Koepka played about as hot of a stretch of golf as you can over eight holes Sunday. Check this scorecard out: birdie, birdie, birdie, birdie, par, birdie, eagle, birdie. Added up, that’s 8-under in eight holes, from No. 4 to No. 11.

“I felt like I knew where I was,” Koepka said. “I figured if we could grab three or four more coming in … post 2- or 3-under, we’d be right there.”

At 6-under through 11 holes, Koepka had a legitimate chance at becoming the first player in major-championship history to shoot 62 – or better.

“I was hoping for something even lower,” he said. “I was hoping for 60, 61. I though that was pretty attainable.”

It proved not to be, though, as Koepka’s run ended with a thud – four straight bogeys from No. 14 through No. 17.

“Those pins coming in aren’t easy,” he said. “It’s a hard golf course. You’ve got to drive the ball well all week. These greens are tricky. If you put yourself in the wrong spot here, you’re in some serious trouble. And then when you get to the greens, you’re not done at all.”

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Defending champion Jordan Spieth came into Sunday’s final round knowing he’d need to do something special to have a change at defending. Spieth said after Saturday’s round he’d need to come out and “try and pull a Johnny Miller,” referring to Miller’s famous round of 63 in the final round of the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont. That round was called the best in history by Golf Magazine in 2000.

Spieth didn’t come close to matching it Sunday, shooting 5-over 75.

“I was just trying to do a little too much,” he said. “I got into some putting trouble today and couldn’t quite get it going on the front nine.

Spieth’s total of 9-over 289 left him in a tie for 37th place, the first time in six majors he’s been outside the top five.

“What’s tough to swallow leaving this week is you do all this work on this course, and it was the easy little iron/wedge holes that tore me apart,” Spieth said. “That’s just kind of bad timing on them.

“Go home this week, and then I’ll look forward to World Golf Championship in Akron to try to gain some momentum for the next couple of majors.”

email: jskurski@buffnews.com