June 15, 2019
Stanford Alum Brandon Wu Chasing Low Am Honors at U.S. Open
By Gary McCormick
When it’s moving day at the U.S. Open and you’re leading, you hope to be able to extend, or at least retain your lead; you certainly don’t want to slide back and let your opponents catch up or pass you.
Stanford senior Brandon Wu was in this position in the amateur competition in the 119th U.S. Open at Pebble Beach on Saturday, and despite a few bumps in the road, he finished the day still leading the four-man field of amateurs in this year’s national championship. though closely pursued by OSU Cowboy Viktor Hovland.
Opening with pars at the first two holes, Wu went bunker-to-bunker-to-green at #3, two-putting for bogey after taking three shots to reach the putting surface. He then narrowly missed a birdie at #4, the first of the true seaside holes on the course. Landing a near perfect approach shot five feet below the hole on the long narrow green overlooking Stillwater Cove, his birdie putt slid past by less than the width of a ball, leaving him a tap-in for par.
At #6, the 524-yard-long par-five that runs nearly the full length of Arrowhead Point, Wu striped a majestic mid-iron shot over the crest of the 35-foot high cliff that looms above the fairway, the ball eight feet past the flag, Another narrow miss, this time for eagle, left him a tap-in for birdie, getting back the shot he lost at #3.
After the display of power at #6, Wu showed his ability for delicate control of a tricky shot at #8, when he chipped down close to the hole from above the green out of the the second cut of rough, and confidently stroked in the remaining putt for par.
A dropped shot was the result when his tee shot slid off the edge of the cliff?? on #10, and he saved par from above the green, again, at the par-four 11th hole.
Wu was sitting at +2 for the round, even-par for the tournament and tied with Viktor Hovland, after saving par from the massive front bunker at the par-three twelfth. A pair of birdies, at thirteen and eighteen, bookended a run of four pars to close out his round, bringing his score back to even-par 71, 2-under for the tournament.
Playing ahead of Wu, Viktor Hovland, the winner of the 2018 U.S. Amateur Championship here at Pebble Beach, endured a run of three bogeys in five holes at the end of the front nine, after a birdie on the third. Birdies at 14 and 18, the #1 and #2 handicap holes on the course, pulled Hovland back up to even for the round and the tournament ??? two strokes back of Wu, and status quo ante going into the final round.
The two remaining amateurs, Duke University junior Chandler Eaton, and 17-year-old high school junior Michael Thorbjornsen, of Amherst, Massachusetts, closed the third round at +2 and +15 for the tournament, respectively.