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McDowell and Furyk lead way at US Open

Comments(0) 6/17/12
Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk will both have a second US Open title as their target when they set out together in the final pairing at The Olympic Club's Lake Course on Sunday.

The pair ended Saturday's third round level at one-under par after 32-year-old McDowell fired a 68, and 42-year-old American Furyk brought the curtain down on the day's play with a level-par 70.

They were the only players to stay in red figures and that gave them a two-stroke advantage over third-placed Fredrik Jacobson of Sweden.

Four others a further stroke back included world No.3 Lee Westwood of England, who is still seeking his first major title, and popular South African veteran Ernie Els, who is out to win his third US Open, 15 years after his last win.

Tiger Woods meanwhile, at five strokes off the pace after a disjointed 75 on Saturday, needed to do something he has never done before - win a major title coming from behind on the last day.

The former world No.1 was one of 15 golfers within five strokes of the leading pair, and that was the same margin that Lee Janzen overcame to win the last time the US Open was staged here in 1998.

McDowell, who sunk the winning putt for Europe to win back the Ryder Cup in 2010, is counting on a California kick as his US Open title win came at nearby Pebble Beach two years ago.

"I can draw a lot from (Pebble Beach)," he said.

"My emotions were the same as two years ago. If I can keep preparing for majors like I am doing, I'll put myself in position to win others so tomorrow's not the be all and end all."

A win for McDowell would make it an incredible three in a row in the year's second major for tiny Northern Ireland, following Rory McIlroy's runaway triumph at Congressional Club, Washington DC last year.

But he knows that Furyk, who he compliments as being a crusty "plodder", will provide the stiffest of opposition. The two were already paired up for the opening two rounds.

The American will be playing in his 18th US Open, with his moment of glory coming at Chicago's Olympia Fields in 2003.

He has had five top five finishes in the tournament over the course of the years, although the last time he did that was when he tied for second behind Angel Cabrera at Oakmont in 2007.

Furyk, joint leader also at the halfway stage, said he had enjoyed a few lucky breaks on Saturday, and will concentrate on his own game down the stretch on Sunday.

"I probably won't try to look at the leaderboard too much, I'll get a feel for how things are going score-wise, but it will be more about trying to play the golf course tomorrow rather than trying to play Graeme or trying to play the guys trying to hunt us down," he said.

Westwood's hopes of becoming the first Englishman to win a major since Nick Faldo at the 1996 Masters were boosted by the day's equal-best score of 67 on Saturday.

And he insists the weight of so many near misses at all four majors over the last few years will not stress him out.

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

With the early final round starters already out on the course, conditions were once again near perfect, but the sunshine and heat meant that handling the slanting fairways and compact sloping greens would once again be tough.

© Copyright AFP Agence France-Presse GmbH - All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed. All reproduction or redistribution is expressly forbidden without the prior written agreement of AFP.
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