Dustin Johnson is 18 holes away from winning the U.S. Open golf championship.
Dustin Johnson…the guy who won the PGA TOUR event at Pebble Beach in February of 2009 and 2010.
Evidently, he likes Pebble Beach.
While Tiger Woods was surging and everyone else was falling back, Johnson came through on Saturday with his own vintage performance, capping off a 66 with birdies at 17 and 18 to secure a 3-shot lead over 36-hole leader Graeme McDowell.
Woods, for the first time in quite a while, made his clubs the story of the day, with his own 66 that included the shot of the shot of the tournament. Tiger carved a 265-yard three wood out over Stillwater Cove and chased it up on the 18th green for a two-putt birdie at the par-5 finishing hole. Thursday, Woods played well but putted like the 8th seed in the Mountain Branch club championship. Friday was a little better, but the putter still wasn’t cooperating. Saturday, it all came together and the 3-time champion produced one of his virtuoso performances that makes him a reasonable bet for Sunday’s final round.
But for Woods – or anyone else on the leaderboard – to win on Sunday, Dustin Johnson will have to play his worst round of the week.
Sunday won’t be nearly as easy as Saturday. The front nine included two par-4 holes (3 and 4) where players could drive the green and the tee on the par-5 6th hole was scooted up some 25 yards as well.
That’s likely not going to be the case on Sunday. Tees will be moved back, pins will be tucked in some delicate spots and par will be your friend.
As pre-tournament favorite Phil Mickelson said after his third round 73 left him 7 shots off the pace, “Anything can happen at the U.S. Open.”
He should know: “anything” has happened to him a lot at this event.
For Dustin Johnson, the title is his for the taking. 18 holes of solid golf – a 68 or 69 – should be more than enough to get the job done.
But Mickelson’s right.
Anything can happen at the U.S. Open.