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‘I literally couldn’t see it': Wyndham Clark sounds off on late Rd. 3 start at U.S. Open

LOS ANGELES – Wyndham Clark said it was a “little ridiculous” that the final group of the U.S. Open didn’t tee off until 3:40 p.m. local time Saturday, believing that the impending darkness contributed to two late bogeys in the third round.

Clark and Rickie Fowler, who are tied for the 54-hole lead at 10-under 200, each made a bogey over the final 30 minutes, when the low clouds and fading daylight made picking out a target and reading the greens more difficult.

“We played twilight golf,” Clark said Saturday.

On the 17th hole, Clark flared his approach shot into the native area, leading to a penalty drop and a 6-foot attempt just to save bogey.

“I literally couldn’t see it,” Clark said, “and we just played off of feel.”

Full-field scores from U.S. Open

Fowler, meanwhile, three-putted from 40 feet on the final green, his par attempt from 3 feet, 7 inches catching the right lip and spinning out.

Afterward, he didn’t blame the miss on the lack of light – “I hit a good putt,” he said – but added that it was surprising that tournament officials pushed the third round so late into the afternoon.

“If it was a Tour event and you were away from the clubhouse,” he said, “you’d be looking around for them to blow the horn.”

On the final green, Clark brushed in a sweeping, left-to-right 6-footer to grab a share of the third-round lead. But while lining up the putt, Clark’s caddie, John Ellis, instructed Clark to hit the putt softly because “we need a tap-in coming in.”

“I would like to think that they would step in and be like, Hey, we want to make sure it’s in the light and we have time,” Clark said. “Definitely Rickie and I had a little bit of a disadvantage on those last two holes playing in the dark.”

With a clear weather forecast and primetime viewing on the East Coast, USGA officials opted not to send the final group off until 3:40 p.m. That was significantly later than the last time that the U.S. Open was held on the West Coast, in 2021 at Torrey Pines. That year, the final group in the third round went off at 1:35 p.m. local time.

“It’s kind of tough and it’s crazy to think that we’re doing that on the last two holes of a major when we could have teed off two hours earlier,” Clark said. “Hopefully tomorrow we don’t have that issue.”

Indeed, it will be an earlier start for the leaders: Clark and Fowler will tee it up at 2:30 p.m. local time, 70 minutes earlier than on Saturday. That start time should allow the broadcast to conclude at about 7 p.m., leaving time for the trophy presentation and, potentially, a two-hole aggregate playoff.