Dustin Johnson seems to enjoy Pebble Beach. Three of his PGA Tour victories have come on this course, including one in February. At this year’s U.S. Open, things have not seemed to change with his success at Pebble Beach as he has taken the lead after three rounds.
Johnson birdied his last two holes which put him at a 5-under 66 on Saturday and more importantly, giving him the lead at the U.S. Open. Graeme McDowell held the lead going into the weekend, but a solid third round by Johnson gives him a three shot lead over McDowell heading into the final round.
McDowell struggled down the stretch and finished with an even-par 71 for the day, losing the lead on the 17th hole.
The story of the day however was the emergence of Tiger Woods. Tiger posted his best round of the year and is now in third place, just 5 strokes from catching Johnson. Woods shot a 66 on Saturday and is now in contention. The excitement that follows him on the golf course is now back, at least for now.
“It’s been awhile. It’s been awhile,” Woods said. “I hadn’t played good enough for anyone to cheer for anything. So it was nice to actually put it together on the back nine and put myself right back in the championship.
“And everyone was just so excited and fired up that it was just a great atmosphere to play in front of.”
Now, Johnson and McDowell will have to play Sunday with Tiger looming back behind them. Winning the U.S. Open on such a difficult course is hard enough, but knowing that the world’s most talented player is in the shadows behind them is just added pressure. Johnson knows that he cannot not let this bother him and must focus only on his game.
“He’s the best player in the game, and it’s not a surprise to see that he’s right there,” Johnson said. “But I’m not worried about Tiger. I can’t do anything about what he does. I can only control what I do.”
Woods entered the third round tied for 25th with his first two rounds of 74 and 72. It seemed as if things were slipping away from Tiger, especially after he bogeyed two of his first three holes and fell nine shots behind McDowell. But Woods, who was looking to just finish the day at even par, rallied for 8 birdies in the third round to put him in position to possibly pull out an unbelievable comeback.
“All the Opens I’ve won [three], I’ve had one stretch of nine holes,” Woods said. “It doesn’t have to be on a back nine or front, just a nine-hole stretch where you put it together.
“That’s what most Open champions have done, and I did it today. I got myself back in the championship with those nine holes. At Torrey Pines [two years ago], the back nine on Saturday, as well.”
Sunday’s final round could shape up to be one of the most exciting final rounds in U.S. Open history. Despite not ever coming back to win a major on the final day, Woods is very capable of ending this drought on Sunday. Woods has his odds set at 3/1 to win the 2010 U.S. Open on Sunday according to PGA Sportsbooks. Johnson has his odds set at 4/5 and McDowell is at 9/2.