Gary Woodland is embracing the pressure and challenge from the chasing pack after taking another step towards his first major title at the U.S. Open.
Woodland ended the third round with a one-stroke lead following his two-under-par 69 in California on Saturday.
Winner of three PGA Tour trophies but still searching for his major breakthrough, Woodland was two shots clear atop the leaderboard when he teed off on the penultimate day.
The American’s lead was cut to one by 2013 champion Justin Rose (68), however, Woodland is relishing the race to the finish line at Pebble Beach.
“I don’t need to change anything,” Woodland told reporters. “It’s more of enjoying the moment. I mean, this is what we play for. This is what I’ve worked so hard for.
“And I think playing with Tiger [Woods] last year on Sunday [at the US PGA Championship], I don’t know if I enjoyed it to start the round, I think there was a lot of moving pieces going on, and I think I kind of got caught up in it a little bit.
“Once I settled in, after I made a birdie putt on eight, I settled in and then I was back to being myself. And that’s what I’ve learned from that situation, is I can’t control everybody else. I can control my attitude, and I can control my game. And that’s what I’m out here to do.”
— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 16, 2019
Woodland said: “I worked for this my whole life. I’ve trained since I started walking. I’ve played sports, I’ve competed. I’ve learned how to win, even if I haven’t done it as much as I’d like.
“I know what it takes to win. And my game is in a great spot. I’m at a beautiful golf course. I came here to win, and that’s what we’re going out to do tomorrow.”
Brooks Koepka is also lurking as the world number one eyes a third consecutive U.S. Open title.
Koepka posted a third-round 68 to move to seven under, four shots behind Woodland ahead of Sunday.
“Brooks has obviously played phenomenal,” Woodland added. “I don’t know if anybody has done what he’s been doing since Tiger did it.
“I know if I play my game and play like the way I’ve been playing, the guys from behind me are going to have to do something really, really special. So I’m going to go out, stay within myself, stick to my game plan and try to extend that lead more than anything.”