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Wu hangs tough, finishes third round on a high note

Through the first 12 holes of his third round at the U.S. Open Saturday, things were not looking as good for Dylan Wu as they were 24 hours earlier.

The Medford native started the back nine in rough shape, and was searching for some sort of remedy so that his round didn’t get away from him.

“You just have to grind and move on to the next shot,” Wu said. “There’s no time in the U.S. Open to lose focus. Your focus is on every shot and there’s not a hole where you can just hit it out there, hit it on the green and two-putt or something like that. Every hole is demanding.”

As he’s shown in the previous two rounds, he was able to steady the ship and rebound.

Wu, playing in his first-ever U.S. Open, finished his third round at Torrey Pines Golf Course with five straight pars and then a birdie on the 18th to finish with a 3-over 74 and in a four-way tie for 41st place at 4 over.

“The biggest thing today was that I didn’t hit the fairway enough,” said Wu, who hit 29% of his fairways Saturday. “And when you’re not hitting enough fairways on this golf course, it almost makes it impossible to make birdies and you’re just grinding for par. That’s what I did today.

“Overall, it wasn’t too bad and I hung in there, which was really good just because you can easily lose it when you’re playing a course like Torrey at the U.S. Open.”

Wu will tee off his final round at 9:04 a.m. this morning with Canadian Adam Hadwin, who shot 4 over Saturday.

“The goal tomorrow is to just hit more fairways, and if I hit more fairways I can attack the hole locations a little better,” Wu said. “I feel good, I’m excited. I played with Brian Harman today and I’m with Adam tomorrow, so I’m playing with a couple of veterans on the PGA Tour. It’s really cool, and it’s a cool experience to play in my first U.S. Open.”

Wu, a 2014 graduate of St. Mary’s and a member of the Korn Ferry Tour, entered Saturday’s third round after a thrilling and marathon-like day of golf Friday to make the cut at just his second-ever PGA Tour event. At one point, the 24-year-old Wu was off to such a fast start that he was able to look up at the leaderboard and see his name in second place.

By the end of his round, Wu was in a tie for 25th at 1 over, then rose to holding a share of 21st place when the rest of the field completed their second round.

All of this was after Wu had to finish the final six holes of his first round after fog forced play to be suspended Thursday night.

Wu recorded pars on his first three holes Saturday, but then had bogeys on the fourth and sixth holes to go to 2 over for the round.

He was able to recover after the pair of bogeys with back-to-back pars and then a birdie on the par-5 ninth hole to close out the front nine in positive fashion.

But, any kind of momentum he was starting to build was short-lived.

Wu had his third bogey of the round on the par-4 10th, then double bogeyed the par-4 12th to go to 4 over for the round.

“On 10, I didn’t really hit that bad of a drive and hit the first cut, but the first cut out here the ball can still jump and just missed the green long,” Wu said. “On 12, it’s just a hard par 4, and there’s a couple of hard par 4s out here.”

Luckily for Wu, he was able to recover after the double bogey on 12.

As he had shown through the first two rounds, Wu was able to put together a lengthy string of pars to prevent further danger.

Wu nearly made birdie on the par-3 16th, with his first putt coming 2 feet short of the hole. He then closed out his round with a par on 17 and a birdie on the 18th hole, sinking a 7 ½-foot putt to guarantee a positive finish to an eventful day.

“I grinded really hard on 13 and 14 and got up and down for par. Par is a good score, and you have to realize that,” Wu said. “I think it feels good just to hang in there. Playing in these events, it’s always a good feeling to hang in there. It’s always a sour taste if I, say, birdied 10, parred 11 and 12 and then finished bogey-double or something like that if the scores were rearranged. You always want to finish on a good note because it leaves you feeling good after the round.”

Wu hit nine of 18 greens in regulation, good for 47th amongst the field Saturday. He was also 9-of-18 during Friday’s second round.

As he pointed out, hitting more fairways will be crucial to having more success today.

After hitting 50% of his fairways in the first round, he has hit a combined 7-of-28 fairways Friday and Saturday.

But, with that said, after three rounds of embracing the grind that comes with the U.S. Open, Wu feels good about where he’s at entering his final 18 holes at Torrey this weekend.

“I definitely know I belong out here, it’s just making sure my good golf is good enough for sure, but also making my misses and some of the decision making a little better over time,” Wu said. “The U.S. Open, there’s tough breaks and good breaks. Right now, I’m 4 over and the leader is at 5 under — that’s nine shots over 54 holes. I’m happy where I am and I’m looking for a good round tomorrow to finish the week.”

Reach Danny Penza at 541-776-4469 or dpenza@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @penzatopaper.

Dylan Wu plays his shot from the seventh tee during the second round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Friday, June 18, 2021, at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)