PEBBLE BEACH -- Just to be clear, Dustin Johnson was nervous. That's the first misconception that might arise after you shoot 66 in the third round of the U.S. Open: that you were oblivious to the stakes, and cruised along accordingly.
But Johnson knew right where he was all day on Saturday. He felt it on his opening drive. He felt it when he drove the green with a 3-iron -- a 3-iron! -- on No. 4. He even felt it on 18, when nursing a two-shot lead, he slashed at a driver over Stillwater Cove en route to a closing birdie.
"On the first tee today I was really nervous," Johnson said. "But any time I step up on the first tee of a golf tournament, I mean doesn't matter if it's a major a regular tour event, I get nervous. But it's a good nervous. It's not bad. I think I handled myself very well today."
So here the 25-year-old Johnson is, with a three-shot lead in the U.S. Open. Surely you can imagine the line of questioning that goes with such a distinction.
"He's got to sleep on a three-shot lead," said Graeme McDowell, Johnson's nearest pursuer at three under par. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow."
"I think I'm going to feel good," Johnson countered. "I put myself in a great position for tomorrow. It's going to be very hard out there. And I got, I am going to have to stay patient and keep playing like I'm playing, and I'm going to be tough to beat."
The point isn't whether Johnson will be nervous, because he always is. The point is Johnson was nervous on Saturday. And look how that turned out.
-- *Sam Weinman *