US Open Championship Blog - Saturday


6.30pm Tiger gives us something truly special to enjoy. After a drive into the rough on the long par fice 12th he launches his long second right over the hole, running it all the way to the back of the green, leaving him a very long curving putt he'd do well to two-putt. Lo and behold he goes and rolls it in and goes on a fist pump frenzy. Never mind the galleries, the media centre went mad too! It was reminiscent of his crazy birdie putt at the island green at Sawgrass in his 2001 Players Championship win. Another one for the showreel Tiger!

A common theme in this tournament is the leaders falling away, okay make that dropping like a rock. Day one unknowns Justin Hicks and Kevin Streelman, (you know Hicksy and Streels surely?) are now both ten over par. Leading at three under par on Thursday seems along time ago. Last night's leader Stuart Appleby has had a shocker and has dropped from three under to five over in just 14 holes. Who is going to carry the curse at the end of day three?

6.00pm Returned to media central to watch the tournament unfold and the scores come in. Anything around par today will be a good score and anything under par will see someone fly up the leaderboard. Sergio has done himself a big favour with his second consecutive one-under 70 and has recovered impressively from his +6 opening nine on day one to a healthy +3 for the tournament to currently lie joint 13th. I reckon that will end up being well inside the top ten by close of play and put him right back at the sharp end. It's looking very promising for our boys Jimenez and Westwood who are playing together. They're both going well with Westwood looking particularly good. US Open specialist Rocco Mediate currently leads at four under, but how long will it last. I've got a feeling there will be some moans about the greens as a lot of players are missing a lot of short putts. That doesn't normally happen and I think the poa annua greens must bumping up as the day goes on.

5.30pm Tiger watch: I set off with Tiger on his third round adventure and it was a little different to the thrills of Friday. He seemed to take ages getting a feel for the drive off the demanding first hole and hit an unimpressive snap hook into the thick doo-doo. For someone so supremely gifted, it is surprising how often he starts a round with a complete hack. He did it on Thursday too and matched that double with another, including a duffed chip to drop back to level par. It didn't end there; after a couple of pars he made a real hash at the 4th and was in danger of blowing all his great work yesterday. Luckily for him, the rest of the field were dropping shots for fun and when a long birdie putt slammed in on the 7th he was suddenly tied for 2nd again.

The media circus was worse than ever out there and frankly, beyond a joke. Us innocent reporters with our little notebooks manage to keep out of people's way most of the time, but a hundred plus photographers with their massive lenses all over the joint really wind the crowd up and I just don't see the need for that many identical photos to be taken, many of which will never get bought. It was getting a bit nasty out there and the USGA should limit it, fast. I heard a few more corkers from the crowd "Here come the vermin" "Go get a proper job" and you know what, I'm on their side.

4.30pm It's carnage out there. I told you the breeze was up, well it wasn't up that much! The scores are piling up and the players are struggling to keep it together. It really didn't feel that much more tricky but some subtly difficult pin positions and the pressure of moving day is turning this into a real bogeyfest. Big names are dropping like flies and from a healthy eight players in the red last night, there may not be any left under par at the end of day.

2.00pm Nothing much happening on the leaderboard so far and the course is obviously tough, but with a 68 from Brandt Snedeker plus a few 70's in already, a good score can definitely be made. However, Mickelson, Scott, Goosen and Garcia are all over par which isn't ideal. Well, the Tiger show is in town and it all kicks off soon, so I'd better go and fight my way through the expectant fans.

1.45pm Tiger is looking primed and focused. Very relaxed warm-up, gentle pitches and short irons up to ripped drives. Expect something solid and I doubt he'll blow this one. If he does I really hope one of our guys can get something going, perhaps the mecurial Jimenez? He's one of my favourite players and I love his attitude. I was watching the highlights on ESPN last night and they call his hairdo a "Spafro". Nice. Lee Westwood looks very in control and relaxed and came into this event with zero expectations after a virus knocked him back for a few weeks. I watched Lee make a cracking birdie on the 18th yesterday after a stunning five wood approach and spoke with him afterwards. He thinks this is the fairest test of golf in any US Open has played and because the greenside rough isn't quite as severe he feels a lot more confident with his improved shortgame. He also hinted to me that he may be playing less golf in future to look after himself as he's 35 now and not getting any younger. "I noticed that the players at the top of the rankings were playing a lot less often than me so I've realised cutting down on my playing schedule may help me prepare better and feel stronger". Lee has played some very solid golf this year and his swing looks great. Wouldn't it be magnificent to see a Brit lift this famous old championship. Here's hoping!

12.00pm Just finished my write-up of the one-two-three show yesterday. You can check it out HERE. Reliving it was nearly as draining as being there and I badly need some energy in the form of hard calories before I tackle Torrey this afternoon. The conditions are noticably different today with a slightly harder breeze which may pick up even more for the leaders. Its pretty cool too and probably not the best day to have got the old shorts on, still its hardly Bridlington in February. There's bound to be moves on the leaderboard over the next few hours and this is a great opportunity for someone like Garcia, Scott, Goosen or Harrington to post something useful and get into the mix. I'm planning to hang on for Tiger and report on his full warm-up and practice session before joining the biggest and best circus in town again.

10.00am It's Saturday and it's moving day. The third round is all about jockeying into position and not blowing out of the tournament. But the elite players, including you know will be trying squeeze out a great round and stretch the field. The way Tiger played yesterday it's definitely on the cards.

At the media centre its pretty quiet considering play is under way, maybe yesterday's action took it out of everybody. It's set up to be another cracking day of golf and with a grey coating of fog hanging over this rugged coastline we're all going to get some relief from the sun for a while. I'm planning to spend some time at the range watching some serious swing action and pick up some pointers, you know, who's looking good in the paddock...before heading out to watch Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott looking to birdie their way back into contention. Will Phil admit defeat and chuck a Callaway driver back in the bag? He can be a bit stubborn so it wouldn't surprise me if he decided to blow off the media's critisicm and stick to his guns. Personally, I think he's nuts but then again, which one of us has three majors, a stack of PGA Tour wins and about 100 squillion dollars squirreled away in the Caymans? Not your resident TG hacker pro thats for sure. Truth is, these guys don't always get it right and unless he goes out and proves us wrong, I reckon it has cost him a real shot at the US Open he longs for around a course he knows as well as his back garden.