Monday, Jun 16, 2003
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Jim Furyk reacts to his birdie putt on the 18th hole at Olympia Fields Country Club during the third round of the U.S. Open on Saturday.
While Woods, Vijay Singh and everyone else around him fell apart, Furyk surged ahead on Saturday at Olympia Fields with a 3-under 67 to shatter the 54-hole scoring record at the U.S. Open.
More importantly, Furyk will take a three-stroke lead over Stephen Leaney into the final round, thanks to a 25-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole that capped off a remarkable day.
Furyk finished at 10-under 200, breaking the previous 54-hole record of 203 last matched by Lee Janzen in 1993 at Baltusrol.
Singh, tied with Furyk most of the sunny, warm day south of Chicago, missed a 3-foot par putt on the 16th hole that sent him to a stunning collapse. He bogeyed the next two holes for a 72 and was five strokes behind.
``I got to this position with a certain type of strategy,'' Furyk said. ``And I've got to continue to do that tomorrow.''
The strategy is fairly simple fairways and greens, the strength of his game.
On an Olympia Fields course that ranks as one of the easiest in U.S. Open history, Furyk has done things few other players have known.
Gil Morgan was the first player to reach at least 10 under in an U.S. Open, at Pebble Beach in 1992. He faltered on the weekend and tied for 13th.
Woods was the last, winning at Pebble Beach three years ago at 12 under par.
Furyk will be paired on Sunday with Leaney, a 34-year-old Australian who has never been in contention in a major and is playing only his second U.S. Open. He recovered from a double bogey on No. 10 to shoot 68 and was at 203.
Nick Price had the lead at one point with five birdies in his first six holes, but gave all but one of those shots back and wound up with a 69, five strokes behind.
Barring the greatest comeback ever in a Grand Slam event, Woods won't hold a major title since before he won the '99 PGA Championship at nearby Medinah.
He took 35 putts, spent too much time in the rough and wound up with his worst score in an U.S. Open as a professional, a 5-over 75 that left him 11 shots out of the lead.
Still, the biggest collapse belonged to Singh.
He had a 15-foot birdie putt on the 16th that would have given him a share of the lead. It took him three to get down for an unlikely bogey, and the Fijian followed that with a tee shot into the bunker on No. 17 and a drive into the rough on the 18th.
``There's no reason to make three bogeys on the last three holes,'' Singh said. ``I'm a little disappointed at the way I finished. But there's a lot of holes to go.''
What makes that tougher is the guy he's trying to catch.
Furyk has never won a major, but he is one of the grittiest guys in golf. He showed plenty of that on a back nine that swallowed up so many others, making two par saves from the bunker and two long birdies.
The biggest was his 40-footer on the par-3 15th. Furyk leaned to the right as it curled toward the hole, and pumped his fist when it fell in a rare display of emotion.
``Even I smile once in a while,'' Furyk said.
Now comes the hard part.
As the sun started to bake out the course, Olympia Fields showed signs of becoming a real U.S. Open test. Greens became firmer. The rough was deeper. Bogeys began to outnumber the birdies.
Furyk also faces the typical final-round pressure, which weighs even more on a guy who has never held a 54-hole lead in a major championship.
``I don't think I've ever sat on a three-shot lead on Saturday night,'' Furyk said. ``I just need to go out and play a solid round of golf tomorrow.''
A whistle shakes Woods
Woods, who last won a major in last year's U.S. Open at Bethpage Black, was never in the game. The cheers that resounded across Olympia Fields indicated that birdies were available and a charge up the leaderboard was likely.
What shook him up was a whistle.
Woods was hitting his second shot into the green on the par-5 opening hole when a fan whistled loud in the middle of his swing.
It wasn't clear if the fan did it purposely or was trying to get someone's attention.
Whatever the case, the ball sailed to the right and Woods failed to make birdie.
He spent the rest of the afternoon falling further and further behind the leaders.
``I didn't play that poorly,'' Woods said. ``I made nothing. I missed a couple of par putts to compound the problem.''
No one was more frustrated than Price.
At age 46 and on a course where he felt confident, Price soared into the outright lead with birdies on his first four holes and a two-putt birdie at No. 6. He was 5 under for his round and in the lead at 9 under.
``I just tried to hang in there,'' Price said. ``I was trying to play smart.''
His tee shot on the par-3 seventh plugged against the lip, short of the green. His drives started straying into the rough. The putts stopped falling.
``The U.S. Open is not about how many birdies you make,'' Price said.
``It's about how many mistakes you don't make.''
He made his share of both five birdies on the first six holes, five bogeys on the next 10.
Only an 8-iron into 2 feet on the 18th hole gave him a round under par.
Price wasn't alone on his roller-coaster ride across Olympia Fields.
Jonathan Byrd, the PGA Tour rookie of the year playing his first U.S. Open, had an eagle putt to tie for the lead at No. 6.
He stayed close to the leaders until hitting his drive out of bounds on No. 13 to take double bogey.
Byrd finished with a 71 and was in the group at 4-under 206 that included Ian Leggatt of Canada (68), Eduardo Romero of Argentina (70) and Dicky Pride, whose 66 was the best round of the day.
Justin Leonard birdied three of his first six holes to get to within one shot of the lead, then made five bogeys the rest of the way for a 72 and was out of contention at 208.
Leaney looked as if he might join them.
He was one off the lead at the turn until catching two bad lies in the rough on No. 10 to make double bogey and dropping another shot on No. 11.
But the Aussie showed plenty of resolve and finished strong for a 68 that put him in the final group Sunday.
``I know how to win tournaments,'' Leaney said.
``It's going to be very hard not to think about a U.S. Open possibility.''
Catching Furyk might be the toughest task of all.
The scores: 1. Jim Furyk 200 (67+66+67); 2. Stephen Leaney 203 (67+68+68); 3. Nick Price 205 (71+65+69); 3. Vijay Singh 205 (70+63+72); 5. Jonathan Byrd 206 (69+66+71); 5. Ian Leggatt 206 (68+70+68); 5. Dicky Pride 206 (71+69+66); 5. Eduardo Romero 206 (70+66+70); 9. Marc Calcavecchia 207 (68+72+67); 9. Billy Mayfair 207 (69+71+67); 9. Mark O'Meara 207 (72+68+67).
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