Golf: Wolff, Reed in share of early third-round US Open lead

Wolff (right) prepares to hit off the first tee with caddie Nick Heinen during the third round.
Wolff (right) prepares to hit off the first tee with caddie Nick Heinen during the third round.PHOTO: AFP

MAMARONECK, NEW YORK (REUTERS) - A laser-focused Matthew Wolff took a surprising bite out of Winged Foot with a blistering front nine to move into a share of the early third-round US Open lead with overnight leader Patrick Reed on Saturday (Sept 19).

The 21-year-old Wolff, competing in only his second major, reached the turn at five-under-par 30 before three consecutive pars to sit at five-under for the week as many players struggled on another tough scoring day.

That left world number 36 Wolff, who finished in a share of fourth at last month's PGA Championship, level with former Masters champion Reed, who made a nine-foot birdie putt at the ninth to get to one under on the day.

Wolff made a fast start as he rolled in a 14-foot birdie at the par-four first hole, drained a 15-footer at the par-four fourth and then picked up another three strokes at the sixth, seventh and ninth.

Reed made two birdies and two bogeys over his opening five holes to relinquish the lead but the unflappable American put some pressure on Wolff with his birdie at the par-five ninth.

Xander Schauffele, through 12 holes, shook off a pair of early bogeys with two birdies and an eagle at the ninth where he stuck his approach to 15 feet to get to two-under for the championship with Hideki Matsuyama, who had five holes to play.

Bryson DeChambeau, who began his day one shot back of Reed, made two consecutive bogeys to start his round before a birdie at the seventh.

He then settled for a par at the ninth where he needed three putts from 17 yards.

Four-times major champion Rory McIlroy, in his first start since becoming a father on Aug 31, was the early third-round clubhouse leader after a two-under-par 68 that brought him to one over par on the week.

The US Open, which was originally scheduled for mid-June but was postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, is being played in September for the first time since 1913 and is the first of six majors that will be held over the next 10 months.