PINEHURST — In one way, Garth Mulroy didn’t see red on Saturday. But he saw it in another way, and perhaps felt it, too.
Mulroy didn’t finish the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday in red numbers, which signify when a player is below par. Yet the former N.C. State golfer received plenty of support from Wolfpack fans.
“Probably a couple times a hole,” Mulroy said of how often he heard N.C. State-related cheers.
There wasn’t much to cheer about – for anyone – during the early rounds at Pinehurst No. 2, which played firmer and faster than it had on Thursday and Friday. For a while, though, Mulroy’s even-par 70 was as good as it got.
When he finished his round, no one had shot under par. Later, two players – Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton – finished the third round below par.
Mulroy has kept a home in Raleigh since his days as a player at N.C. State, where he was an All-American in 2002. Since then, he has played professionally in Europe and Asia, and he has split time in recent years among the PGA Tour, the Web.Com Tour and the European Tour.
He still keeps up with the Wolfpack, he said, and follows N.C. State’s football and basketball teams.
“I have a lot of informers when I’m not here,” Mulroy said. “And my neighbors are from Carolina, so yeah.”
He noticed a media member’s shorts, which had a hint of Carolina blue, and Mulroy paused.
“Look at your pants,” he said. “… I’ll bring some red ones tomorrow.”
Martin Kaymer hit his drive into the rough on the left side of the 4th hole and ended up in a washout up against a pile of pine straw. After appealing unsuccessfully for relief, Kaymer told the rules official – USGA president Thomas O’Toole – he would take an unplayable lie.
“You’re not going to play it?” O’Toole asked.
“Do you have an idea how to play it?” Kaymer responded.
Kaymer took the penalty stroke, chipped into the fairway and ended up making bogey on the hole.
Handling the heat
A hot, muggy week in the Sandhills has caused predictable medical problems during the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, but not any major issues.
“You plan for the worst and hope for the best, but it has been pretty much what we expected,” Tommy Cook, director of FirstHealth Emergency Medical Services for the Southern Region, said Saturday morning.
Cook said some golf fans had been transported to a local hospital this week because of heat issues, but said he did not have a number.
“Folks need to come out and continue to stay hydrated,” he said. “We’ve had folks with improper footware and had a lot of blisters. The heat had caused some to have headaches, so we’ve been able to give them Tylenol or ibuprofen. But those have been the three things: blisters, headaches and need for water. Those are the major (issues).”
There are four First Aid centers at No. 2, Cook said, each staffed with a medical doctor, nurses and paramedics. There are mobile EMS units using bikes to patrol the course and ambulances.
Cook said he had heard of one person being hit by a golf cart, saying, “I’m surprised with all the carts here there have not been more, but I have not heard of any major injuries.”
It was been a dream week for Fran Quinn, the 49-year-old journeyman who made the cut in the U.S. Open for the first time in 20 years – and made it with his son, 15, as his caddy. It was a dream Thursday, especially, when Quinn was among the leaders with a 2-under 68.
Saturday, though, was a bit of a return to reality.
Quinn shot a 9-over par 79 after finishing with at least a bogey on three of his final four holes. He said his goal for Sunday was to play well and “finish it off in style.”
“But what I did today was really disappointing,” Quinn said.
‘Bad taste’ for Spieth
Jordan Spieth was a little irritated Saturday after bogeys on the last two holes led to a 72, saying, “It left a bad taste in my mouth.”
Finishing rounds has been a problem this week, Spieth said, noting he was 5-over-par on the last three holes in the first three rounds.
“I haven’t found the fairway at 18 yet,” he said. “If I play those three holes better I’m sitting there with a chance to win.”
Spieth, who tied for second in the Masters, said he would have just one goal for Sunday: “Beat the golf course.”
“I have not looked at leader boards and I won’t (Sunday),” he said. “If I can beat the golf course it will be another good golf tournament and solid major for me.”
“The fans have been awesome, and hopefully they can get some out here next week for the girls and give them a little bit of (a) feel for what we got.”
– Rickie Fowler, who will enter the final round in a tie for second after shooting a 3-under 67 on Saturday.
Number to Know
There were two rounds under par at Pinehurst No. 2 on Saturday, and they belonged to Fowler and Compton, both of whom shot 67. The two rounds under par were the fewest in the third round of a U.S. Open since 2007 in Oakmont, Pa.
Carter: 919-829-8944; Twitter: @_andrewcarter