We are down to just 18 holes to decide this years national champion, and we have quite the race on our hands. With 14 players, all within five shots of the lead, any one of those players could walk away with a US Open win at Olympic Club. Who happens to be in that field of players?
- F. Jacobson – has played well the last few US Opens
- Lee Westwood – highest ranked player in the world still in the tournament only three shots back
- Ernie Els – two time US Open Champion
- Webb Simpson – could very well be the underdog that Olympic Club loves so much
- Beau Hossler – I think every American out there is rooting for this kid… it would be a game changer!
- Jason Dufner – one of the hottest young guns out there, just needs the putter to catch up to his game.
- Retief Goosen – two time US Open Champion
- Martin Kaymer – major winner, and former #1 player in the world
- Matt Kuchar – one of the best players on tour without a major (could change that today)
- Tiger Woods – this man needs no tid bid to prove he could win today (despite yesterdays round)
All in all there are 14 players bunched at the top, 6 Major Champions, 10 US Opens won by these 14, and I couldn’t even count how many PGA Tour Victories between them. What I am driving at here, is this is a powerhouse of a field and a powder keg of golf talent waiting to explode and excite us on this US Open/Fathers Day Sunday.
What happened on Saturday? Saturday is moving day on the PGA Tour, several players moved up, a few moved down, and we saw one Major Major winner move a long way down the leader board. Tiger Woods shot his worse Saturday score in a Major championship, and this while being the leader after 36 holes. With three bogies on the first six, and only one birdie all day, Tiger’s 75 was a let down to a lot of Tiger fans out there. His putting wasn’t there, his approach shots just fell short all day long, and he was just a little off. Hopefully he can find some Tiger magic and come back to put some pressure on this field. Although, everyone is talking about how Tiger Woods has never won a major in a come from behind fashion (not one time). Every one of his 14 Major Victories he was leading or tied for the lead going into Sunday. Johnny Miller believes that means that Tiger can only win when he is ahead, I just believe that this means that he has yet to rise to the top on a Sunday, and I am really hoping that Sunday is today.
Jim Furyk has been atop the leader board since Friday midday. His -1 posted early on Friday was the standard that was set to the field. He stumbled early on in his Saturday round, but birdied 7 and 11 to get back to -1 for the event, and finished with a bogey on 16 (his only missed sand save of the event) but a birdie on the 17th to card a even par 70 and tie the leader in the club house. Jim made a lot of great par putts on Saturday, and that is what a US Open champ does. Make Par Putts. That should be everyone’s game plan tomorrow. Fast and Firm greens mean a lot of par putts, and the guy who makes those 8, 10 and 15 foot par putts is the man who will be holding the trophy on Sunday. Jim made those putts on Saturday, and if he keeps making those putts he is going to continue to be the man to beat.
Graeme McDowell is a fan favorite, and he has been the US Open champion before, so we all know he can handle the pressure. He could very well be the 2012 US Open Champ, and continue Northern Ireland’s dominance of the US Open. If anyone has played the first six at Olympic well it is Graeme. He is only +2 for the first three rounds combined on the treacherous 1-6 stretch. If G-mac can come out of the gate like he did yesterday even par on the front nine, the rest of the field is going to be playing catch up. Graeme has also played the back nine superbly. He is a combined -6 under par on the back nine for all three days. This course fits Graeme, and he is having fun on this rough and tumble course. I believe that is his key to victory, he enjoys the fact that this course is hard, he takes the good with the bad, and if he gets that putter working Guinness stock is going to rise on Monday morning (on account of all the Guinness that will be drank across this great nation and world wide if the Irishmen claims a second US Open victory). Because lets face it, everyone loves the Irish.
No matter who comes out on top this Sunday, we are in for a treat. This US Open has conformed with the ideals of the USGA that the winner should be as close to par as possible. They have set the course up to have a few really tough holes, and a few “birdie” holes. Just beware those birdie holes can also cause some real drama on a Sunday. I think we are going to see one or two of the +3 or +4 group post a really low Sunday round early, and the leaders are going to have to fight off someone. Without a doubt though this championship is going to come down to the final three holes. Either someone is going to birdie or bogey 16, 17 or 18 to win or lose the championship, and what more could the golfers of the world ask for then a 72 hole championship to come all the way down to the wire.
Happy Fathers Day, and enjoy this US Open Sunday with the guy who probably put your first club in your hand.