By Ann Liguori
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The winner of the 2012 U.S. Open is anybody’s guess! With only two players under par for the tournament — the two leaders, Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk – the course surely is the winner! Everyone who was so certain that it would be Tiger because of his sharp play and confidence in the first two rounds — and his win at the Memorial coming into this major — now have doubts unless he can shake off the 75 he shot on Saturday. At four over par, Tiger is five shots back. With 15 players within five shots of the lead, it’s anybody’s ballgame!
Will Graeme McDowell, the affable Irishman who won the U.S. Open two years ago at Pebble Beach, hold on? McDowell’s birdie on 18 moved him to one under for the tournament. His 3 under 68 was impressive. He parred the first eight holes, bogeyed the ninth and then birdied three holes on the back. There’s no one as cool as McDowell, and if he can keep the ball in the fairway off the tee, he could be celebrating another U.S. Open victory in the state of California.
Will Jim Furyk hold on and continue to play consistent, solid golf? Furyk’s only major title was the U.S. Open in 2003, but the 42-year-old is unfazed by the pressure and is as patient as they come.
Can Lee Westwood, the third-ranked player in the world who at 39 has won almost everything in golf but a major championship, finally put it all together? Westwood shot a 3 under 67 and at plus two for the tournament, and is only three behind. Perhaps Westwood will finally remove that ’0-for-57 in the majors’ monkey off his back
Or could it be Ernie Els, who won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997 as well as a British Open Championship in 2002, but hasn’t won in the states since the 2010 WGC-CA Championship. Els, who was at even par before an eagle on 17 helped him polish off a 2 under 68, closed to within three of the lead at plus two.
And 17-year-old whiz kid Beau Hossler, an amateur who has been wowing everyone with his stellar play here, is not only still in the conversation, but in fact has a shot at winning the championship! Hossler shot an even par 70 and at plus three, he’s only four shots back! What was so impressive about Hossler’s round on Saturday is that he followed up each of his four bogies with four birdies. And I love the fact that his GPA in high school is 4.0!
And we can’t count out Jason Dufner, a winner of two tournaments leading up to the U.S. Open, and whose demeanor is perfect to handle a competition this intense. Dufner, at plus three, can make all of the guys in front of him nervous.
The question remains, “Can Tiger come back after his worst round as a leader after 36 holes in a major?” He’s never come from behind to win a major.
This course continues to shake the best in the world!
Who do you think will rise above and win the U.S. Open? Sound off with your thoughts and comments in the section below…