It was seemingly all set up for Tiger Woods' triumphant return to major championship glory. He was entering the third round with a share of the lead at the U.S. Open Golf Championship. However, if golf fans thought that Tiger Woods was going to run away with the 112th U.S. Open, in a style reminiscent of the 2000 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, they were mistaken. Of course who would blame them for thinking Tiger would do well given his history when holding or sharing the 36-hole lead at major championships. Nevertheless each event is different and Tiger certainly struggled to open his third round. He made bogeys on holes one, three, six and eight to quickly fall out of the lead. After skidding to a 5-over par 75, including bogeys on two of his final three holes, Woods finds himself five strokes behind the leaders.
Did I mention the third round leaders? They just happen to be former U.S. Open champions Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk. Furyk, playing with Tiger in the third round, managed an even par round of 70 to maintain a share of the lead. Meanwhile, McDowell fired a 2-under par 68 to join Furyk at the top of the leaderboard.
The two best stories of the day for me were Ernie Els and Beau Hossler. For the 17-year old amateur to come out once again for the third day and play well along side golf's best professionals in a major championship is amazing. That is almost Hollywood fantasy material. Young Mr. Hossler deserves the attention that he's receiving and hopefully he can have a good closing round.
Then there is two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els. Els played well on the Lake Course in the third round carding a 2-under par 68. While Els began his round in much the same manner as Tiger Woods, the South African turned it around quickly. The highlight of Els' round had to be his eagle on number 17. Els nearly followed up that eagle with a birdie on the closing hole but had to settle for a tap in par and he will start the final round in fourth place, three shots off the lead. A third U.S. Open title would obviously mean a great deal to Els. It would put a cap on what has been an outstanding professional career. I hope that he can play well in the final round and give himself a chance to win.
Dwight is an avid golfer. While still relatively new to the game, he plays as often as the weather and his schedule will allow.