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Devil Ball Golf

What you need to know going into the final round of the U.S. Open

Jonathan Wall
Devil Ball Golf

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The par-4 18th hole at Olympic Club. (Getty Images)

This is it, folks, the final round of the U.S. Open is here. Before you settle in to watch it unfold on your couch, here's a look at some things to keep an eye on throughout the day. No doubt this tournament still has a few twists and turns left. It is, after all, the U.S. Open.

Five things to ponder

Who could be this year's version of Jack Fleck? — If you don't know who Jack Fleck is, he was the municipal-course pro in Iowa who held off golf legend Ben Hogan in an 18-hole playoff at the 1955 U.S. Open at Olympic Club. It's arguably one of the greatest upsets in golf history. That said, who could potentially be this year's Fleck? Fredrik Jacobsen isn't an unknown, but most of the golfing public would probably be shocked if he came from two back to win. Nicolas Colsaerts, currently at 2-over, is another name to keep an eye on.

Who's more likely to stumble: Jim Furyk or Graeme McDowell? — Honestly, you'd probably have better odds of flipping a coin to answer this question. Furyk once again struggled off the tee on Saturday, so you may want to give the edge to G-Mac based on his impressive birdie finish. But McDowell isn't a mortal lock, either, to take home his second major. The tournament will boil down to who can make the least number of mistakes when it counts late in the afternoon. McDowell torched the back-nine (if you can call 3-under 33 that), so he gets the edge as the guy who's least likely to stumble.

[Related: Co-leader Graeme McDowell is man to beat at the U.S. Open]

Course conditions — USGA Executive Director Mike Davis made it known that he wouldn't water Olympic Club's greens under any circumstances on Saturday. Even with the lack of moisture, they held up incredibly well and were even receptive late in the day. Some greens started to look a little ashy, but overall, you'd have to believe the USGA will stick to its plan and let the greens firm up even more on Sunday. It's the final round of the U.S. Open, so expect the course to be unforgiving.

Don't bet against an 18-hole playoff — With 25 players within six shots of the lead, Sunday's final round could turn into a Monday playoff the way things are going. Two of the four times (1955, 1966) Olympic Club's hosted the Open, the tournament's gone to an 18-hole playoff. Anything could happen, but we wouldn't be surprised to see a three- or four-man playoff take place.

Any crazy tee box locations? — The USGA deserves a lot of credit for moving the tees up on the par-3 15th hole from 154 yards to 107 yards. While the decision didn't have any bearing on Saturday's outcome, it makes you wonder if Davis has any other changes up his sleeve for today.

What's at stake

Graeme McDowell — Simple, the chance to become a two-time U.S. Open winner. We've seen lots of one-hit wonder major winners, but it's hard to question a guy's career when he has multiple victories.

Jim Furyk — Like G-Mac, he has the chance to add two-time major winner to his resume. After struggling in 2011, this year has produced the consistency we're used to seeing out of Furyk. But he still doesn't have a win. Picking up his first win in two years at Olympic Club would be fitting, considering how well he's been playing of late.

[Brian Murphy: Tiger Woods done in by litany of mistakes in Round 3]

Fredrik Jacobsen — Just two back of the lead, Jacobsen is a darkhorse playing in the second-to-last group. While most couldn't pick him out of a lineup, you shouldn't sleep on his chances. With three top-20 finishes in his last four major starts, a win would make people take notice of a guy who's been quietly flying under the radar.

Lee Westwood — With the exception of Tiger Woods, nobody's under more pressure to win than Westwood. Three back of the lead after a 3-under 67 on Saturday, all he needs to do is post a solid round and see what happens. A victory on Sunday would validate his sterling career, and could potentially jumpstart a special year for a guy with immense talent.

Ernie Els — He has an opportunity to become the feel-good story of the last couple years. At 42, Els is on the back end of his career and has been a non-factor at the majors since he finished in third-place at the 2010 U.S. Open. This is a chance to prove the naysayers who thought he couldn't win another major wrong.

Tiger Woods — The heat is on after Saturday's 5-over 75. You'll hear during the final round telecast that Tiger's never come from behind to win a major, and at five shots back, it's hard to see him getting back into contention with so many big names ahead of him. Although, Billy Casper came back to win the U.S. Open in 1966, erasing a seven-shot deficit on the final day. So it's possible to shock the world at Olympic Club. What would a win mean? Everything at this point.

[Related: Tiger Woods collides with cameraman after ugly U.S. Open round]

TV schedule

Coverage of the final round will be broadcast on NBC from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Or until the tournament is over.)

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