Update, 8:21 p.m. ET: Zach Johnson sent a tweet Saturday evening clarifying his comments:
My intent today was merely to say it was unfortunate the course in certain places got away from the “set up” officials. The fact that the worse a player played Thursday/Friday (if you made the cut) gave them more than a substantial advantage today, is unfortunate. Yes the course gets more difficult as the day goes on, especially on the weekend, but good shots should be rewarded not penalized at all times. This will still be a great championship, in my opinion, on the best venue of any US Open. Shinnecock Hills is just tremendous. Happy early Fathers Day.
SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. – High winds and dry conditions turned certain holes at Shinnecock Hills unplayable for a second consecutive U.S. Open on Saturday.
Despite rain on Friday that softened the layout, increasingly high scores on Day 3 prompted many players to question the USGA’s setup and contend the layout had been pushed over the edge.
“They’ve lost the golf course,” Zach Johnson told Sky Sports. “When you have a championship that comes down to sheer luck, that’s not right.” Johnson shot a 72 on Saturday and was 8 over par, tied for 16th.
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In 2004, the USGA scrambled during the final round after the day’s first group, which included Kevin Stadler and J.J. Henry, combined to play the seventh hole in a dozen strokes. Officials began watering greens after that and association executive director Mike Davis called the setup a “double bogey.”
There was similar reaction from players on Saturday, which saw just three under-par rounds.
Asked if the course was getting too close to the edge, Brendan Steele responded “Yes. Once you watch the leaders play the back nine you won’t have to ask any questions.
“Maybe they got more wind than they thought they’d get,” he added. “The course was fair the first two days. Today I thought it was getting sketchy.”
The Round 3 scoring average was 75.328, which was less than it was on Day 1 (76.474) when winds whipped to 30 mph, but some greens seemed to be a particular concern like the 13th hole, which was the site of a bizarre ruling when Phil Mickelson hit a putt while his golf ball was still moving. Mickelson was given a two-stroke penalty and made a 10 on the hole.
USGA CEO Mike Davis said that the wind blew harder than the forecast had indicated and that certain greens, like the 13th and 15th, became too severe for Saturday’s hole locations.
“I will tell you that we felt good about the setup when we left this morning when we were done with the setup,” Davis said. “We felt that it would work well given the forecast we had, but I think that, now that I’m sitting here, we would say that parts of this test of golf simply were too tough.”