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Early starters bid to make inroads at US Open

Early starters bid to make inroads at US Open
© Reuters
Richard Bland and Russell Henley were the joint leaders at Torrey Pines.

History was firmly against all but six players as they attempted to claim major championship glory in the 121st US Open at Torrey Pines.

With the field separated by just nine shots following the halfway cut, Saturday's early starters still harboured ambitions of playing their way back into contention in San Diego.

Yet 23 of the last 25 US Open champions were at or within two shots of the lead after 36 holes, with 24 of the last 25 inside the top six at the same stage.

Those statistics pointed to the winner coming from joint leaders Richard Bland and Russell Henley, nearest challengers Louis Oosthuizen and Matthew Wolff or Bubba Watson and pre-tournament favourite Jon Rahm.

But early starter Paul Casey was showing what could be possible in the third round as he covered the front nine in just 31 shots thanks to birdies on the second, fifth, eighth and ninth.

A bogey on the difficult 12th halted Casey's momentum and dropped him back to one over par, six shots behind the surprise leading pair.

Bland only won his first European Tour title at the 478th attempt five weeks ago, while Henley's last PGA Tour title was four years ago.

Bland began the week as a 500/1 outsider and 115th in the world, remarkably the same ranking Phil Mickelson held before he became the oldest major champion in history by winning the US PGA, eight days after Bland's victory in the British Masters.

The 48-year-old, who is the oldest player to lead or share the lead after 36 holes in US Open history, was largely unknown in the United States before this week, but quietly fancied his chances after seeing the course.

"I was coming here off a couple of good results, a win and a third in Europe," Bland said. "I've been driving the ball well for five, six weeks now, which is the cornerstone if you're going to put a fight up for a US Open.

"When I saw this place on Monday, it kind of set up to my eye. It's all there just straight in front of me, and that's the kind of golf course I like. There's nothing kind of jumping out and grabbing you or anything like that."

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Olympic medal table header
CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
ChinaChina23141350
United StatesUnited States20211657
JapanJapan175931
AustraliaAustralia1431431
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia12191344
Great BritainGreat Britain10101232
Today's Olympic highlights header

Sunday's key events


GOLF
· The men's golf reaches its conclusion, with plenty of players still in medal contention. Home favourite Hideki Matsuyama is one shot off Xander Schauffele's lead, while Great Britain's Paul Casey is another shot further back and Tommy Fleetwood is also in the mix (11.30pm-8am)

CYCLING - BMX
· Great Britain have already made history in the BMX events in Tokyo, something Charlotte Worthington and Declan Brooks will be looking to add to in the women's (2.10am) and men's (3.10am) freestyle finals

SWIMMING
· The final day of swimming action begins with the men's 50m freestyle final. Ben Proud could add to a medal-laden Games in the pool for Team GB so far, although he is up against USA's Caeleb Dressel, who is going for his fourth gold in Tokyo (2.30am)
· From sprint to endurance, Great Britain's second medal hope of the day comes through Daniel Jervis in the men's 1500m freestyle final (2.44am)
· Team GB will again be among the heavy favourites for gold in the last swimming event of the Games - the men's 4x100m medley relay final - having won the mixed event in a world record time on Saturday (3.36am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Pat McCormack takes part in the men's welterweight semi-final against Ireland's Aidan Walsh with a spot in the gold medal final at stake (4.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also in the semi-finals of the men's light heavyweight and will be looking to continue Team GB's success in the ring (4.51am)

TENNIS
· There will be a surprise on the top of the men's tennis podium after Novak Djokovic missed out on a medal altogether. Alexander Zverev takes on Karen Khachanov in the second match on Centre Court at the Ariake Tennis Park (7am-2pm)

SAILING
· Alison Young will be going for gold in the women's laser radial medal race (7.33am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Team GB's Max Whitlock will look to defend his 2016 Olympic title in the men's pommel horse final (10.41am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's high jump final includes GB's Tom Gale, although his chances of a medal look bleak (11.10am)
· So often the blue-riband event of the Olympics, the men's 100m final takes place as the world's fastest bid to be crowned Usain Bolt's successor. Three Brits have made it into the semi-finals (11.15am-11.32am), and the final looks wide open after an underwhelming display by favourite Trayvon Bromell on Saturday (1.50pm)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain face India in the men's quarter-final (1pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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