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Xander Schauffele misses big with driver on Saturday, falls five off the pace

LOS ANGELES – Xander Schauffele had a simple mission for his late-night range session after his third round at the U.S. Open.

“I just want to see some drivers fly at the target line,” he said.

Schauffele hit 1-of-9 fairways Saturday with his driver en route to a disappointing 3-over 73. After entering the weekend just two shots off the lead, Schauffele now sits five behind Rickie Fowler and Wyndham Clark.

Full-field scores from U.S. Open

No player inside the top 12 had a worse third round than Schauffele. His struggles started from the opening tee shot, when his drive found the left fairway bunker and it took him three shots to get out of the sand. He recorded a bogey on the second-easiest hole of the day.

The left miss was a consistent problem, missing in that direction with his first four tee shots. But despite making three bogeys over his first five holes, he still turned in even par, thanks to birdies at Nos. 6, 8 and 9.

But his erratic driver remained a problem on the more-difficult back nine, with bogeys on Nos. 13, 14 and 17 dropping him to 3 over for the day and 5 under for the championship. Schauffele ranked third-to-last in strokes gained: off-the-tee Saturday.

Schauffele, who has 10 top-10s in majors without a win, needs some help Sunday to jump back into contention, with Saturday feeling like a missed opportunity.

“I saw some guys like shooting 29 on the front,” he said. “So, it’s out there if you’re hitting the ball in the fairway.”