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The Country Club’s course can be chaos — but it’s not supposed to be easy, right?

Jon Rahm was frustrated missing a putt on the 18th green after getting caught in a bunker twice, just one of the obstacles he had to clear in the third round of the US Open.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

BROOKLINE — Serenity is typically welcome on a golf course, unless you’re planning for chaos.

“The wind died? Come on,” Jon Rahm roared, incredulous, after sailing his approach on No. 13 well past the hole. “What a freaking day.”

On that particular shot, Rahm was anticipating the ripping gales that enveloped The Country Club on Saturday, and was instead handed a gentle breeze. That was a rare gift. Like the rest of the field during the third round of the US Open, Rahm’s offerings were mostly blown around the course.

According to the USGA, the average wind speed was around 16 miles per hour, with the average gust clocking 22 mph and a max gust of 31 mph. The galleries were on high alert. The trees picked up a few extra dents.


It added up to a day where red figures were hard to come by. Entering Sunday’s final round, when conditions are expected to be chillier — temperatures in the 50s — and less windy, Will Zalatoris and Matthew Fitzpatrick were leading the field at 4-under.

Let other tournaments hand out birdies like door prizes. This weekend is all about the struggle.

“Today was a prime example of a US Open Saturday,” Fitzpatrick said.

Comfort is never a constant during major tournaments, and few are at home in Brookline. This course is where a 9-over score won the 1963 US Open. The winner, Julius Boros, lifted the trophy after Jacky Cupit’s double bogey on 17 forced a three-man playoff with Arnold Palmer.

On an idyllic day, The Country Club’s craterous bunkers and ridiculous roughs would have been tough enough. Zalatoris (4-under 67), said he didn’t even try aiming at flagsticks, given how little room the greens provided.

“This place is a beast,” Zalatoris said. “When I played during the Am in 2013 I said this was the hardest golf course that I had ever played. It’s just so easy to compound mistakes out here — which, of course, you can do that in major championships in general, but especially this one.”


Rahm was tied for second on No. 8, when he found himself nestled behind a tree. He addressed his ball in fits and starts, pressing his body against the trunk as he tried to set up a shot. He finally turned his back to the hole, measured a one-armed, backhand stab, and whacked it 22 yards out of trouble.

No. 8, a 576-yard par 5, was where Dustin Johnson had an adventure of his own.

On the dogleg left, Johnson went way left. He and his caddie, his brother Austin Johnson, moved the gallery as they sized up a wall of trees 50 feet high. Johnson wasn’t getting over it, so they parted the seas once more. He smacked his ball to the neighboring fairway on 9.

Johnson, who finished with a 2-over 71, got it back on track. He strolled off the eighth green with a smile after picking up a birdie, and flipped his ball to the crowd.

On No. 5, Joaquin Niemann had two shots in the deep woods, both up a hill, and three-putted on the green for a triple-bogey.

Scottie Scheffler, who led by 3 after a 102-yard eagle on No. 8, dropped to three shots back by No. 15. In that stretch, he double-bogeyed 11, then bogeyed the next two.


His playing partner, Matthew NeSmith, got his taste of the hardscape on No. 10. He bounced his drive over a patch of Roxbury puddingstone, which forced him to clamber up the craggy rocks, slippery grass underneath his spikes, and take a split-legged stance before hammering his second shot over a creek.

As Justin Thomas was closing his round, he turned to his caddie, Jim Mackay.

“I said to Bones walking up 18, ‘This is how a US Open should be,’” Thomas said. “It’s very difficult. Par is a great score on a lot of holes. Bogeys aren’t going to kill you.

“We don’t do this very often, and I think it’s very, very fitting and totally acceptable to have this kind of test and this difficult setup for a US Open, and it’s strictly because of conditions.”

How did he feel about his standing?

“Not great,” Thomas said. “I would feel better if I was five or six shots better.”

It has been a dry spring, with nary a drop of rain the week of the tournament. The course was playing fast, making wind-swept shots even tougher to control.

Local favorite Keegan Bradley, of Hopkinton High, was ready for Sunday.

“New England weather,” he said. “We love it. It’s perfect.”

Matt Porter can be reached at matthew.porter@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.