As expected, the US Open is shaping up to be survival of the fittest. Three players began the third day under par and only two remain in red figures. 2010 Champion Graeme McDowell and pre-tournament pick Jim Furyk are at the top of the pile, as David Toms and Tiger Woods fell down the leaderboard yesterday – although neither is out of contention. Furyk and G-Mac are two of the grittiest players on tour and former US Open champions, so we could have an exciting final paring on Sunday evening.
Indeed, Furyk and McDowell were paired together over the opening rounds. The latter declared that the pair would enjoy “pleasure of each other's company again" on the final day. Jim is of the opinion that the tournament is now open to someone coming from far back. Saturday scoring was the lowest of the three days so far, with 13 players breaking par – the same number that managed that feat over day one and two combined – but much will be down to the final pairing who tee of at 3:10pm local time.
Pins were more approachable on Saturday, which was the main reason for the scoring improvement. Tiger Woods failed to take advantage, though, managing just one birdie and six bogeys. Woods admitted to struggling on the greens, finiding himself in between clubs a lot and appeared frustrated at not giving himself chances when in good positions. Woods is now priced at 15.00 if you fancy him for another famous final day charge.
Greens are as fast as they have been all week and as they quicken up, a certain Swede is creeping up the leaderboard. Freddie Jacobsen, one of the PGA Tour's best fast green putters, has recorded rounds of 72, 71 and 68, and seems to be happy with his game from tee to green: "As I've gone along, I've learned what sides to miss fairways on, and most of the time I've missed on the correct sides." The Swede is just two back and trading at 15.00 to make it three European US Open winners on the spin.
On such a tough course, many players will struggle on final round Sunday and with the added pressure of leading the pack, it's not inconceivable that the leading threesome of McDowell, Jacobsen and Furyk may all find it difficult. If this were to happen, it would leave another, say, 23 players in with a shout of victory - all those at +5 or better. Some of these players will be out in the best of conditions, with added moisture on the greens and lighter winds, and if someone was to post a 66, it would certainly grab the attention of the leading contingent coming down the stretch.
As is common at the US Open, a whole host of big names are lurking, hoping for those on top to come unstuck. We we could be in for an enthralling final round Sunday, and whoever is to lift the second major title of the year will fully deserve it after a long, hard battle.