The bogeys piled up in a hurry for Brendon Todd.
Just that quickly, his first U.S. Open turned from a dream to a complete nightmare.
The local favorite who began the day alone in second place plunged down the leaderboard in a hurry Saturday with a 9-over 79 that started badly and never got better.
“The scores weren’t really happening for me today,” Todd said.
After making only two bogeys in the first 36 holes, he had eight of them and a double bogey in the third round. Twice, he had four bogeys in a five-hole stretch.
He insisted he wasn’t nervous playing alongside leader Martin Kaymer and wasn’t trying to chip away at the six-stroke lead he brought into the round.
“I wasn’t trying to shoot 65,” Todd said. “I was going out there to try and shoot a solid round and see what happens. I was really still playing for pars. And they were just that difficult for me to get.”
There were plenty of bogeys for everyone at a dried-out Pinehurst No. 2 with many pins placed in tough-to-reach corners of the greens.
“There’s no chance to hit the ball close when the pins are tucked like that,” Todd said. “You never get that birdie to get your momentum going back the other way.”
Only seven players shot par or better – just two of them posted red numbers – while much of the movement on the leaderboard was headed one way.
“There’s nothing ‘Moving Day’ about Saturday at the U.S. Open,” Graeme McDowell said, “except moving backwards.”
Perhaps nobody fell harder or faster than Todd, a 28-year-old who was playing the first major of his career – and it came in front of the home folks.
Todd played high school golf about a 60-minute drive from Pinehurst in the Raleigh suburb of Cary.
He gave them plenty to cheer during his first two rounds by breaking par both days.
He followed his opening-round 69 with a 67 that left him alone in second place and earned him a spot in the final pairing alongside Kaymer.
It didn’t take long for things to go bad.
After hitting his 60-foot birdie putt on the second hole, he immediately started snapping his fingers in an apparent attempt to will it to stop.
Instead, it rolled off the green, and he putted to 6 feet and made that for his first bogey since Thursday.
He three-putted on the third, missed a 6-foot par putt on the fourth and three-putted again on the sixth.
Then came the double bogey on the par-4 seventh. He pulled his tee shot into the weeds, hooked his second shot into more weeds well left of the green and grounded his third stroke into a bunker.
By then, he was sinking fast.
“It wasn’t the most nervous I’ve ever been,” Todd said. “I didn’t have that much pressure on myself. It’s not like I was holding the lead. I was just going out there trying to hit good shots and make good putts. I hit good shots early. I felt like I hit it really good through six holes, and the putts didn’t go in. Because of that then I feel like that sort of weighed down on my ball-striking a little bit, and it made it difficult to get back going the right way.”
At least Todd had some company in his struggles on a course that the oldest player in the field, 53-year-old Kenny Perry, described as “18 of the toughest pins I’ve ever seen.”
Rory McIlroy, the 2011 winner at Congressional, had five bogeys on the front nine of a 74 that dropped him to 3 over.
“It was a tough test, a real test of patience, a test of if you’re going to miss shots, miss it in the right place,” McIlroy said. “I missed it in the wrong place most of the time at the front nine.”
Adam Scott, the 2013 Masters champion and world’s top-ranked player, also was at 3 over after a 73 that included bogeys on three of the four par-3 holes. He had four bogeys in his final 10 holes.
“It was a grind, but I had it under par, and just couldn’t keep it there through the turn,” Scott said. “I think if I’d kept it there through the turn … the momentum is going for the rest of the round. But it went the other way. And it’s so hard to stop it.”
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