PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — Graeme McDowell spent as much energy Saturday fighting frustration as he did the demanding conditions at the U.S. Open.
Three strokes back after the first round, the 2010 Open winner had seven bogeys in a 5-over 75 that left him 7 over after 54 holes. It was his second straight day over par, sliding him further down the leaderboard after a promising start at Pinehurst No. 2.
"It's very, very difficult mentally, to stay in it," McDowell said. "You start thinking to yourself, 'I'm not even sure if I want to play tomorrow.' It's not really enjoyable. It's not enjoyable. It's very difficult. But it's the U.S. Open."
McDowell opened with a 68 on Thursday, playing conservatively but putting the ball where he wanted it in a nearly mistake-free performance. But he fell back Friday with a 74, making four bogeys and a double bogey.
Things did not get any better Saturday as the course got harder and faster with unforgiving pin placements.
His sixth hole started a run of four straight bogeys before the turn, with two more coming on the 13th and 16th holes.
"This is a hard golf course for me because it's so long," McDowell said. "I don't get a lot of wedges in my hands, short irons in my hands. That's the strength of my game. ... My iron play hasn't been bad. I just haven't given myself enough opportunities.
"It's the US Open, golf's toughest test. And they were right today."
STENSON'S PUSH: Henrik Stenson nearly made it 3 for 3 in finishing below par at Pinehurst No. 2.
The No. 2-ranked Swede had finished at 1-under 69 on each of the first two days. He was ready to do it again before his bogey on the 18th left him at 70 and tied for fourth at 2 under overall, six shots back of Martin Kaymer.
Stenson declined to speak with reporters afterward, saying he was off to the driving range.
Stenson is playing in his eighth U.S. Open, with his best finish being ninth at Bethpage Black in 2009. He will join Erik Compton (3 under) in the next-to-last group for Sunday's final round.
SAY THAT AGAIN: Martin Kaymer lives in Arizona and speaks beautiful English.
The Rules of Golf can have a language all its own.
The German hit a tee shot on the fourth hole that went into a sandy area that had been washed out by rain earlier in the week. The ball was against a 6-inch high pile of pine straw, and he thought he might get relief.
USGA President Tom O'Toole was the official and tried to explain that he would not get relief, bringing in roving official Jeff Hall for backup.
Kaymer looked perplexed.
"I don't understand his English," he said to his caddie, Craig Connelly of Scotland.
All he needed to know is that he would not get relief.
"I didn't really understand the English that the referee was trying to tell me," Kaymer said. "So I said to my caddie, 'You have to take over here,' because he speaks better English than me — even though he's Scottish."