McDowell, Furyk share the US Open lead

05:05, Jun 17 2012
Brendan Jones Gallery
Brendan Jones of Australia hits a shot in practice prior to the US Open at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.
Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano Gallery
Alvaro Quiros and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano of Spain wait on the 12th hole during a practice round.
Luke Donald Gallery
World No 1 Luke Donald signs autographs for fans during a practice round.
Angel Cabrera Gallery
Angel Cabrera of Argentina walks up a fairway during a practice round.
US Open Gallery
USGA flags blow in the breeze during a practice round prior to the start of the US Open at the Olympic Club in San Francisco.
US Open Gallery
Memebers of the Olympic Club grounds crew water a green during a practice round.
Rickie Fowler and Morgan Hoffman
Rickie Fowler and Morgan Hoffman putt on the 18th green during a practice round with the Olympic Club clubhouse in the background.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods walks towards the tee during a practice round.
US Open
Spectators look for a good vantage point during a practice round.
Bubba Watson
Masters champion Bubba Watson hits a tee shot during a practice round.
US Open
Spectators keep a keen eye on play during a practice round before the US Open at the Olympic Club in San Franciso, California.
Phil Mickelson
Phil Mickelson chips to the seventh green during his six-over round of 76.
Rory McIlroy
Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy plays out of the sand on the seventh during his opening round.
Michael Thompson
First round leader Michael Thompson chats with his caddie on the 16th fairway.
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson shake hands after their opening round at Olympic.
Ryo Ishikawa
Japan's Ryo Ishikawa hits his tee shot on the 10th hole.
Andy Zhang
14-year-old Chinese amateur Andy Zhang lines up a putt in round one.
Tiger Woods Gallery
Tiger Woods hits a fairway shot during the second round.
US Open Gallery
Fans watch the play on the eighth hole during the second round.
US Open Gallery
Nick Watney, Bill Haas and Jordan Spieth walk with their caddies off the second tee during the second round.
US Open Gallery
Ryo Ishikawa of Japan lines up a putt during the second round.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods hits a tee shot during the second round.
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk on his way to a one-under par 69 in the second round.
Beau Hossler
Amateur Beau Hossler celebrates a birdie with his caddie on the 17th green.
US Open
A view of the leaderboard at the Olympic Club part way through the second round of the US Open.
Tiger Woods
Tiger Woods plays an iron shot on the fourth hole during the third round.
Raphael Jacquelin
Raphael Jacquelin hits a shot out of the bunker on the second hole during the third round.
Lee Westwood
Lee Westwood ponders his next shot.
US Open
A big crowd gathers on the eighth hole to watch all the third round action.
Beau Hossler
Amateur Beau Hossler celebrates a birdie putt on the 17th hole during the third round.
Jim Furyk
Jim Furyk plays a shot from the balcony during the third round.
Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell surveys the scene on the eighth green during the third round.
Fredrik Jacobson
Fredrik Jacobson hits a shot out of the bunker on the 13th hole during the third round.
US Open
Lee Westwood of England attempts to locate his golf ball in a tree on the fifth hole during the final round.
US Open
Tiger Woods smiles after he birdied the eighth hole during the final round.
US Open
Jim Furyk watches his tee shot on the second hole as Graeme McDowell looks on during the final round.
US Open
Sweden's Fredrik Jacobson hits from a bunker to the second hole during the final round.
US Open
Jim Furyk hits his tee shot on the second hole during the final round.
US Open
Jim Furyk hits from the sand on the seventh hole during the final round.
US Open
Webb Simpson hits his tee shot on the 17th hole during the final round.
US Open
Webb Simpson lines up his putt on the 14th green during the final round.
US Open
Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland reacts to a shot on the eighth hole during the final round.
US Open
Graeme McDowell tees off on the fourth hole during the final round.
US Open
Jim Furyk reacts to his second shot on the 11th hole during the final round.
US Open
Amateur Beau Hossler of the United States hugs his caddie Bill Schellenberg on the 18th green during the final round.
US Open
Webb Simpson (R) and runner-up Graeme McDowell look at inscriptions on the US Open trophy after Simpson won the 2012 tournament.
US Open
Webb and Dowd Simpson walk to the 18th green for the trophy ceremony after he won during the final round.
US Open
Webb Simpson kisses the US Open trophy following his final round victory.
US Open
Graeme McDowell doffs his cap while walking up to the 18th green during the final round.

Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk won the third round battle of par at the US Open.

Tiger Woods lost a lot more than that.

McDowell showed the kind of fight that won him a US Open two years ago down the coast at Pebble Beach. He scratched out pars and finished with a 4-foot birdie putt that gave him a two-under 68 and a share of the lead going into the final round at The Olympic Club tomorrow (NZ time).

Furyk, also bidding for another trophy from golf's toughest test, outclassed Woods in the final pairing with key bunker saves and an eight-foot birdie putt on the 17th for a 70, making him the only player who has yet to have a round over par.

They were at one-under 139, the only survivors against par.

Woods, wearing a key lime shirt, turned in a lemon. He fell out of the lead with two bogeys in the first three holes, couldn't make a birdie on the stretch of holes that Olympic allows players to make up ground, and ended with a sloppy bogey on the 18th for a 75.

There were only eight scores worse in the third round. And it matched Woods' highest score when he at least a share of the lead after any round of a major. He also closed with a 75 in 2009 at the PGA Championship when he lost a two-shot lead to YE Yang.

All is not lost for Woods, not to mention another dozen or so players.

In a US Open that is living up to its reputation, it was difficult for anyone to build a big advantage.

McDowell and Furyk were two shots ahead of Fredrik Jacobson, who had a 68. In the group another shot behind were Lee Westwood, whose third round-best 67 gave him another shot at his first major, and Ernie Els, who holed a long pitch for eagle on the 17th that carried him to a 68. The Big Easy is a two-time US Open champion, with that first title coming 18 years ago.

Thirteen players are separated by four shots going into the final round, a list that includes 17-year-old Beau Hossler, who followed bogeys with birdies for a 70.

Woods, who has never won a major from behind, was five shots back. His round ended with a shot from the middle of the 18th fairway that hung up in the right collar of rough, and a stubbed chip that took a hard turn to the left some 10 feet away.

When he two-putted for his sixth bogey, his day got a little worse. Climbing the hill toward the fabled clubhouse at Olympic, a photographer brushed past him and Woods banged his hand into the camera. He shook it several times, but later said he was fine.

The real hurt came from Olympic.

"It was just a tough day on the greens, and most of the day, I just kept getting that half-number, right in between clubs all day," said Woods, who was either well long or short on his approach shots.

Furyk, the only player who has not had a round over par this week, and McDowell played together in the opening two rounds. Tomorrow, much more is at stake.

But this was not shaping up as a two-man race for McDowell and Furyk.

"Looking at the leaderboard, you've got to look down as far as the guys at 3 or 4 (over) as having a realistic chance of winning this tournament," McDowell said.

For every bogey Hossler made, he answered with a birdie on the next hole.

His only big blunder came on the 11th, when he was too aggressive with a downhill putt and missed his par putt from six feet. Two holes later, he hit a heavy chip from the hazard that rolled back down a slope for another bogey. The kid just wouldn't go away, though, and suddenly he is dreaming big.

Hossler wanted to make the cut. Then, he wanted to be the low amateur. Now?

"My goal now is to win the tournament," he said.

In the 14 majors he has won, Woods was never worse than par in the pivotal third round and had a scoring average of 68.3. There was no way that was going to hold up on a course like Olympic, though Woods was expecting better than what he delivered today.

He missed the first fairway, came up short of the third green and wound up with three bogeys through six holes.

Woods wasn't alone in making mistakes. David Toms, tied for the second-round lead with Furyk and Woods at 1 under, played that rugged six-hole stretch in five over and fell six shots behind with a 76.

Even with the USGA watering the course after the second round and again before today's (NZ time) third round, Olympic was as relentless as ever.

But it wasn't impossible.

Westwood showed that, as did Els, who called it as easy as the course played all week.

Kevin Chappell, who tied for third last year to earn a spot in this US Open, had a 68 and takes an unthinkable streak of 24 holes without a bogey into the final round. He was at 3-over 213, along with Webb Simpson, who also had a 68.

Asked if the experience at Congressional would help, Chappell gave an apt description of what awaits in the final round.

"Last year we were trying to make birdies in the US Open," he said. "And here, you're just trying to survive."

Westwood came in right behind Chappell, and while he failed to take advantage on the par 5s, he finished in style with a 40-foot birdie putt on the 18th for a 67. Westwood began this week as the third wheel in a powerful threesome of the top players in the world ranking. Luke Donald, the world No. 1, and defending champion Rory McIlroy have gone home. Westwood now has another chance to pick up his first major.

He twice has missed a playoff by one shot, in the 2008 US Open at Torrey Pines and the 2009 British Open at Turnberry. He twice as been runner-up in the majors.

A win tomorrow would end that heartache, and return him to No. 1 in the world.

"I think I've probably been in contention in major championships more than anybody else over the last three or four years," Westwood said. "So I'm looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully go out and have some fun and see what happens."

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AP