Saturday's Birdies and Bogeys

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Saturday's Birdies and Bogeys

June 15, 2012

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: AP Photo

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Birdie: Graeme McDowellThis journey for McDowell began not far from Olympic, down the coastline at Pebble Beach. Following a monster 2010 season that featured wins in the U.S. Open, a clinching birdie putt in the Ryder Cup and a successful head-to-head duel with Tiger Woods, McDowell admitted to a "hangover" in 2011. He resolved to regain focus this year, and the evidence of his progress was on display Saturday, when McDowell's brilliant back-nine charge gave him a 68 and put him in a tie for the lead heading into Sunday. If he were to prevail, it would mark three-straight wins for Northern Ireland in the U.S. Open, and the country's fourth major title in three years.

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Bogey: Tiger WoodsSure, it was tough for everyone. But after two rounds of careful, precise positioning around Olympic, Woods was sloppy throughout his tour of Olympic Saturday. A drive in the rough on the first hole. A chunked chip from greenside on 18. And throughout, the type of short missed putts that were a foreign concept earlier in his career. It all added up to a Saturday 75, and a five-shot deficit to start the final round. Woods may still recover to win his fourth U.S. Open, but certainly not without some cuts and bruises along the way.

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Birdie: The U.S. OpenIf Rory McIlroy's resounding performance at Congressional caused the national championship a temporary identity crisis, the USGA addressed the concern head on a year later. Buried lies, putts rolling off the green, golfers backpedaling in unison -- it's all part of what distinguishes the Open from every other tournament on the calendar, and it's been unavoidable this week. It might not be pretty. But you at least know what you're watching.

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Bogey: David TomsFor 36 holes, David Toms played Olympic Club as well as anyone in the field. It took a lot less time for the 45-year-old to fall back to the pack. Toms played Olympic's brutal opening six-hole stretch in five-over par and never recovered on a day when low scores were possible. Toms wasn't the only golfer to struggle Saturday, but with his window of winning another major closing, he was probably the most disappointed.

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Birdie: Beau HosslerSomebody needs to tell this kid this is the U.S. Open. The 17-year-old Hossler is hardly the first longshot to contend in a U.S. Open. The difference is that most of those players eventually fade back into the scenery. Instead, for the third-straight day, Hossler was commanding TV time for reasons other than his age. After an even-par 70 put him in the clubhouse at three over, you can count on seeing his braces-filled smile some more on Sunday.

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Bogey: 15th holeCute? Yes. Appropriate for a U.S. Open? Not so much. Moving the tees all the way up is one thing, but then moving the flagstick to the very front of a rock hard green made for a silly 107-yard hole. Unable to get it close, players hit lob wedges to 15 feet behind the hole all day and then two-putted. Yawn.

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Birdie: John PetersonPlaying in the penultimate group, Peterson had faded off the leader board thanks to four bogeys in his first 11 holes. Then came the par-3 13th, where the 2011 NCAA champion from LSU sent his 7-iron tee shot tracking toward the flagstick. When the ball rolled into the cup, the celebration with his caddie was part high-five, part body slam. The ace moved Peterson back into contention at three-over par, and gives a player without status on any tour a chance to turn this Open into a life-altering event.

Photo By: AP Photo

Birdie: Lee WestwoodStop us if you've heard this one. Arguably the best player in the world without a major, Westwood got into contention with a 67 -- the low round of the day. Now, we'll have to see if the owner of seven career top-three finishes at majors can finally break through. After a sluggish start that included a double bogey on his opening hole of the tournament, Westwood at least has been able to give himself a chance.

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Bogey: Phil MickelsonFor his 42nd birthday, Lefty would have liked nothing better than to shoot a low round to get back in contention to win an elusive first U.S. Open title. With a softer course and the knowledge that he'd shot under par in the third round of every tournament this year, it certainly seemed like he was poised to do just that. However, Mickelson never got going on Saturday at Olympic. He shot a second-straight 71, and had to settle for birthday wishes from the gallery as he walked off the 18th green.

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Bogey: Nicolas ColsaertsPerhaps this is a little harsh for a player contending in a major for the first time, but the 29-year-old Belgian could have put himself in even better shape. Despite being arguably the longest player remaining in the field, he seemed to be the only player not to try to drive the green at the short par-4 seventh. A par stalled his early momentum, and he wasn't able to take advantage of the short par-5 17th, parring it for a third-straight day. Still, Colsaerts played well enough to now sit three shots off the lead heading into Sunday.

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Birdie: U.S. Open ChampionsFrom Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk right on top, to Ernie Els three strokes back, to even Retief Goosen and Tiger Woods five behind, there are several players who have a chance to add their U.S. Open haul on Sunday. Past experience may be an overvalued commodity in an era when 10 of the 11 past major champions have been first-time winners. But on a day when every aspect of your game is tested, not least of all your sanity, there's something to be said for knowing you've survived this crucible before.

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