Thongchai Jaidee gave early-arriving fans a treat with the first hole in one of the week as the third round of the 110th US Open got under way in California on Saturday.
Birdies had been hard to come by for the tournament tail-enders at Pebble Beach on another cool, overcast morning and Jaidee had been no exception until he sent his eight-iron shot 181 yards to the hole at the par-three fifth.
Starting at seven over par, the Thai golfer had bogeyed the second hole and double-bogeyed the fourth before his ace at the next, the seventh recorded in the five US Opens held at Pebble Beach and the first at that hole since Bill Brodell holed from 180 yards in the 1982 second round.
Having made the first hole in one in a US Open since 2006, when Sweden’s Peter Hedblom aced the 238-yard third hole at Winged Foot, Jaidee birdied the sixth but then bogeyed the eighth and 13th holes and was nine over par with five to play.
That placed the Thai 12 strokes behind 36-hole leader Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, who led by two shots at three under from Masters champion Phil Mickelson, two-time US Open winner Ernie Els, Japanese teenager Ryo Ishikawa and American big-hitter Dustin Johnson.
Johnson, a winner on the course in February when he successfully defended his AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am title, was set to play with McDowell in the final pairing of the day at 3:50pm local time, with South Africa’s Els and 18-year-old Ishikawa in the penultimate group.
Mickelson was paired with Germany’s Alex Cejka, one of four players on level par after 36 holes, including England’s Paul Casey.
Making a better job than Jaidee of making up ground from seven over par were Americans Davis Love III and Brandt Snedeker.
Love, 46, eagled the par-four fourth by sinking a 14-foot putt and was five under for his round after nine holes at two over par.
Snedeker was three under for the day and at four over after 10 holes, where Sweden’s Henrik Stenson joined him after a birdie at the second.
Tom Watson, the 1982 champion when the US Open made its second visit to Pebble Beach following Jack Nicklaus’s victory 10 years earlier, was two under for his third round at five over after nine holes, a day after having made the cut at age 60 with a second round, level-par 71.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia was in a similar position after eight holes as was veteran American Ryder Cup star Kenny Perry, who had played 10 holes.
Perry, 49, had been four under for the day until he double-bogeyed the par-four ninth hole.
Reigning Open champion Stewart Cink, who beat Watson in a play-off at Turnberry last July, got his round up and running with a birdie at the par-four fourth, the first hole on the course that skirts the Pacific Ocean, and was one under after 13 holes at six over par.
Former Masters champion Mike Weir was not having so enjoyable a time, though, the Canadian slipping to 16 over par, nine over for a third round that had an eagle on his card, at the fourth, in addition to five bogeys and three double bogeys.