PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. – Henrik Stenson figured the least he could do after hitting a fan at the U.S. Open with an errant 8-iron was to pose for a selfie.
Stenson’s approach shot on the 16th hole at Pebble Beach on Saturday went into the gallery behind the green and hit a young man square in the forehead.
“I hit one of those famous like rockets almost, it was a semi shank, it wasn’t a full one. That would have been better, because then it would probably have hit the trees,” Stenson said. “But it was a nice flight out to the right, shot it forward, but they can’t see anything, I can’t see where it’s going either, and clipped the guy right in the forehead.”
Stenson went over to check on the man and apologize for the wayward shot and was relieved to see he was feeling OK and hadn’t been hit in the eyes or mouth.
“He’s in good spirits because he’s taking selfies of himself while he’s down on the ground,” Stenson said. “I walk up to him. I said, ‘I’m sorry.’ What else can you say? And he says, ‘Can you do me one favor? Can I take a picture with you?’ So next thing I’m down on the ground as well, taking a picture, a selfie, laying down with him and his girlfriend.”
Stenson said the fan might have had a few drinks before getting hit, easing the pain. He said he made sure to get his contact information so he can check back and make sure everything’s OK and send him a gift.
“I might send him more than just one golf ball next time,” he said. “I might send him a couple dozen or something to try to make up for my poor shot.”
The race to be the top amateur will go down to the final round.
Brandon Wu, Viktor Hovland and Chandler Eaton were within for shots of each other after the third round at Pebble Beach. The fourth amateur to make the cut among the 15 who entered was 17-year-old Michael Thorbjornsen, who shot an 84 and was far back of the other three.
Wu leads the group after shooting an even-par 71 Saturday to remain at 2 under. The former Stanford star who will miss his college graduation Sunday to play in the final round has been at par or better in all three rounds.
“Today was a little tougher,” Wu said. “I feel like I’ve been putting well all week, and today I missed a couple six-, eight-footers to start. So that led to a few bogeys, missed a few birdie putts. That was kind of tough. We missed a few reads, greens were bumpier, hit a few bad putts. But overall I stayed patient, stayed confident.”
Hovland, who won the U.S. Amateur here last summer, also shot even par Saturday and was two shots behind Wu. Duke’s Chandler Eaton shot 73 Saturday and was two shots behind Hovland.
“It’s really good, clean competition. We all like each other. They’re all really good,” Eaton said. “They’re great players. If they go and shoot 3-, 4-under, I wouldn’t with surprised at all.”
Danny Willett made the best of his early start in the third round.
Teeing off almost four hours before the leaders hit the course, Willett birdied four of the first seven holes on the way to posting the lowest score of the day at 4-under 67.
Willett overcame bogeys at Nos. 9 and 10 with birdies on the two par 5s on the back nine, finishing his round with a 3-foot putt for birdie on 18 to leave him 4 under for the tournament in a five-way tie for ninth place.
“We put ourselves in that position regardless of what the leaders do,” he said. “We’re going to be in nice position to go out there tomorrow and have a decent finish regardless of what the guys at the top do. So try to keep doing the same.”
Pebble Beach director of golf John Sawin missed a chance to qualify for the U.S. Open at his home course when he fell short at sectionals.
That didn’t stop him from getting the chance to tee off on the weekend. With an odd number of players making the cut, Sawin served as the marker for Justin Walters and was part of the first group of the day.
Sawin said he has only played the course about 20 times since coming to work here about a year and a half ago. But he did play it once last week after it had been set up for U.S. Open conditions.
“I was the last person to run around before sunset on Friday night and the USGA took it over on Saturday,” he said. “Before that I hadn’t played it in six weeks. I spent a lot of time on the golf course, but not with my full set of clubs.”
Fox posted the largest television audience for the second day of the U.S. Open in seven years.
Fox said it averaged 2,096,000 viewers for the 10 hours of coverage on Fox and FS1. That was an increase of 34 percent over last year when the tournament was played at Shinnecock Hills on the East Coast.
Fox averaged 2,914,000 viewers for its prime-time coverage from 7:30-10:30 p.m. FS1 posted an average of 1,740,000 viewers for its seven hours of daytime coverage.
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