McDowell and Furyk upstage Woods

BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2012 US Open | Round Three | 17 Jun 2012

Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell lead through 54 holes of the 2012 US Open but for either to win the arguably the game’s most coveted prize they will need to hold off at least the 13 players within four shots and battle an Olympic Club layout that is not promising any favours on day four.

The outcome remained in doubt until the very last shot on day three of the US Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco and it might just be that the same will apply in 24 hours time.

Jim Furyk two putted the final hole to remain tied with McDowell who had finished twenty minutes earlier with a birdie at the last.

The pair lead by one over Sweden’s Fredrik Jacobson whose three birdie stretch through the middle of his round moved him into contention.

With Tiger Woods, David Toms and Jim Furyk leading into today’s third round it appeared that it would be one of them who would dominate the third day given that all three were major champions and that the daunting task of leading such an event was not a new experience to them.

What transpired on a warm and perfect northern California day however leaves the door wide open for any one of twenty or so players still with a chance of producing something special and taking their chances in what promises to be a battle to the death.

Many felt Tiger Woods would stamp his authority on the field today but it was not to be, a bogey at the first hole the first of four in his opening eight holes and although he birdied the 10th the damage had been done.

Woods recorded a round of 75 and at 4 over has his work ahead of him if he is to go on and win the event many felt was his following his impressive opening 36 holes.

“I struggled on the greens today, quite a bit,” said Woods. “They looked quick, but they putted slow. But they were firmer than they were yesterday. So it was a tough feel for me to adjust to and it was amazing how all day I kept getting a half club. Just one of those days where I was right in between clubs on about every single shot. Just never quite had the right number.”

Graeme McDowell emerged as the joint 54 hole leader, an impressive three birdie, one bogey round of 68 giving him the outright lead in the clubhouse before Furyk birdied the 17th to join the 2010 Champion.

“Yeah, you know, obviously delighted with my effort today, said McDowell. "Myself and Jim played together the first two rounds, so we’ll have the pleasure of one another’s company tomorrow. It’s wide open.

“I look at guys at 2 and 3 and 4 over par in this tournament, who I really think they have a realistic shot to win tomorrow. There’s a fine line in this golf course between 67, 68 and 75, 76. There really is. It’s a tough course. You’ve really got to execute shots well. You’ve got to keep the ball on the correct side of the pin.

“And you’ve got to play well Today perhaps some of the pins were a little bit more accessible. The back nine on this golf course really gives you an opportunity. It plays quite short. You can get short iron in your hand quite a lot and have a chance to attack some pins and make some birdies. I was happy I did that well today. My tee shot on 9 was kind of a wake-up call for me. I had a big flare in the right trees there and made a bit of a Tarzan 5. And that kind of woke me up a little bit.”

McDowell quite candidly admitted a lot of nerves and anxiety before today’s round. “As I was getting ready to come to the golf course today I felt a little nervous and anxious and really kind of not sure how the day was going to go. I spent a little time with my caddie and my team just kind of talking about what we were trying to achieve today and got my head screwed back on again and realized today was trying to position for tomorrow. And really trying to go out and execute my game plan, get in a relaxed frame of mind and give myself an opportunity to play tomorrow and maybe have a chance to win.”

The leaders are two ahead of Jacobson and three ahead of Lee Westwood, Ernie Els, Blake Adams and Nicolas Colsaerts.

“I knew before the round that if I could put a good number up today that I most likely could give myself a chance for tomorrow,” said Jacobson. “It was a big day out there today to try to close the gap a little bit and get into contention.”

“So the first few holes I didn’t hit the fairways and they’re tough as it is, even if you are in the fairways. So I had to work really hard the first six holes to play those 1 over, and I think that was key. So I hit a good shot on 7 to get myself back to even and then played really solid from there.”

It did not take a very low round for a player to work his way into the tournament, Westwood’s three under 67 the equal best of the day and moving him from his overnight 32nd position to his share of 4th.
Westwood’s was a particularly impressive effort and comes on top of his five shot win in Sweden last week.

“I had a lot of fun out there,” said Westwood. "I really enjoyed the day. Finished it off nicely. A lot of good chances to shoot a really good score out there. Obviously a 67 isn’t a really low score, but I had a couple good chances at 16 and 17 that I didn’t birdie and then I made the last bomb at the last that you don’t expect. So it was a good way to finish.

“I think I’ve probably been this contention in Major Championships more than anybody else over the last three or four years,” he said when asked how his experience in major contention would help him tomorrow. "

“So I’m looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully going to go out and have some fun and see what happens.”

The stories amongst those still in with a chance are too many to tell but the final day of the 2012 US Open promises many more.

One of those is Australian John Senden who at three over is just four shots from the lead after his very impressive round of 68.

Will either McDowell or Furyk win their second US Open title, will someone else win their first or is there still a twist in the Tiger’s tale? Sunday at the US Open is shaping beautifully.

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    About the Author: Bruce Young

    A multi-award winning golf journalist, Bruce's extensive knowledge of the game comes from several years caddying the tournament circuits of the world, marketing a successful golf course design company and as one of Australia's leading golf journalists and commentators.


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