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Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jordan Spieth spend day in neutral at U.S. Open

UPDATED: Sat., June 15, 2019

Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on the second hole during the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday  in Pebble Beach, Calif. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)
Rory McIlroy lines up a putt on the second hole during the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday in Pebble Beach, Calif. (Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP)
By Eddie Pells Associated Press

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Dustin Johnson stayed in neutral. Rory McIlroy barely budged. Jordan Spieth went backward.

For three players with seven major titles between them, Moving Day at the U.S. Open came and went with barely a ripple – sidetracked by balky putters that couldn’t bail them out of errors they made from the fairways.

Spieth shot 2-over-par 73 and fell to 1 over for the tournament, 12 back of leader Gary Woodland.

Johnson shot even to stay at 2 under.

McIlory opened the day in a tie for fourth but shot 70 to fall to sixth, five shots off the lead at 6 under.

“I just didn’t make anything,” Spieth said after a round that included 28 putts, good for 33rd in the 79-man field. “I hit really nice putts, and then they just didn’t go in today. It was actually the best I’ve hit it in quite a while.”

A few of Spieth’s misses – like the birdie attempts on a 10-footer on No. 4 and an 18-footer on No. 8 – he thought he’d hit perfectly, but they slid off at the last second.

“You’re looking to shoot 5 or 6 under in a round like that,” he said. “I pulled the wrong club on 11, and other than that, I didn’t make anything.”

About that wrong club – there was no video replay of the exchange between Spieth and his caddie, Michael Greller, but Spieth blamed him for giving him the wrong club Thursday, leading to a ball in the ocean, then over the green on No. 8, en route to a double bogey.

This time, the wrong club led to double bogey on 11, which put Spieth at 2 over for the round.

Meanwhile, Johnson needed 29 putts.

Had any of his five attempts from inside of 15 feet – including an eagle try on 6 and birdie tries on 10 and 13 – gone in, this could have been a different day for the 2016 U.S. Open champ.

Further up the scoreboard, McIlroy’s chances of going low were pretty much squandered after he played the first seven holes – prime scoring territory at Pebble Beach – at even par, sandwiching five pars between an opening bogey and a birdie on the 98-yard seventh.

McIlroy, who needed 29 putts, lost ground to Woodland (11 under), Brooks Koepka (7 under) and Rose (10 under), watched Chez Reavie (7 under) pass him and stayed a shot behind Louis Oosthuizen (7 under).

Still in the mix, for sure, which made him glad he didn’t press too hard early and gave himself a chance on Sunday.

“You can’t put yourself under pressure to have a crack at those holes,” he said. “You’ve just got to let it happen.”

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