- US Open, Round Three
McDowell & Furyk share lead as Woods flounders
Graeme McDowell, Jim Furyk and Tiger Woods are three of the five former champions in with a great chance of winning the US Open again on Sunday - with Lee Westwood also well placed to end his major duck at Olympic Club.
McDowell shares the third round lead at one-under after an impressive round of 68 that was capped off with a birdie at the 18th, with 2003 champion Jim Furyk joining him as the only two men in the field under par after a resilient round of golf.
Swede Fredrik Jacobson, one over, is also in close attendance - with another 23 players within six shots of the two leaders and thus in with a feasible shot at the victory on Sunday.
Woods, meanwhile, had an uncharacteristically torrid day - never really recovering as he bogeyed four of his opening eight holes without managing to pick up a red number.
He eventually carded a round of 75 - following two bogeys in his last three holes - to sit four-over for the tournament - still in contention but with a number of other players between him and the leaders.
Woods has never gone on to win a major if he has not held or shared the 54-hole lead.
Westwood, for example, is two-over four the tournament and level with two-time US Open champion Ernie Els, who eagled the 17th after a sublime chip-in from the side of the green to thrust himself into contention to become the first person since Jack Nicklaus to go 18 years between their first and last US Open victories.
Blake Adams is also two-over, after he finished with three birdies in his final five holes - while Retief Goosen, another multiple former winner in this event, is four-over.
The day belonged to McDowell, however, who thrived in conditions similar to those at Pebble Beach, where he won his maiden major title in 2010.
The Northern Irishman looked in control of his game all day and holed a number of crucial putts at vital junctures - with three birdies on his back nine, including a sumptuous approach and five-footer at the last, opening up a bit of breathing room between him and the chasing pack before Furyk reeled him back in.
The distinctive American had made the running for much of Saturday's action, despite a slow start that saw him two-over through five on the day. He picked up a couple of shots around the turn before the monstrous par-five 16th penalised him another a shot - but a clutch putt at the follow-up 17th ensured he slipped back under par for the tournament and matched McDowell's score heading into the final round.
The two men will go out as the final pairing for Sunday's concluding round.
With the second round leaders struggling at the start of their third rounds on Saturday, Westwood breezed around the course in 67 to get into the clubhouse at two-over and leave himself just a shot from the front at the time he finished on the 18th.
The world No. 3 made a steady start of four consecutive pars over the treacherous opening stretch at Olympic Club, before bursting into life during the mid-part of his round. Four birdies and two bogeys in a seven-hole stretch saw him bound up the leaderboard as those around him kept leaking shots before a long range birdie at the last sealed a three-under par round.
The Englishman is two-under par for the 48 holes he has played since making a torrid start to the tournament on Thursday, making him a prime contender for victory on Sunday as the late starters all dropped shots early.
He was later pipped by Jacobson, while Webb Simpson, who nearly won the PGA Tour money list last season, is three-over after 54 holes - as are John Senden and Kevin Chappell, who is looking for another strong finish after ending up in a tie for third last year at Congressional.
Jason Dufner is also three-over after wasting a number of close-range birdie chances over the closing stages - meaning he finished tied with 17-year-old amateur Beau Hossler, who completed arguably the round of the day after a 70 that still leaves him with a chance at an improbable victory.
Goosen is within striking distance at four-over, along with Martin Kaymer and Matt Kuchar.
American Casey Wittenberg shared the low round of the day with Westwood, firing an impressive round of 67 to climb to five-over for the tournament and draw level with Woods after barely making the cut. A number of higher profile names are also at that score - including Padraig Harrington, Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia.
Of those other players who just managed to make the weekend's action, Phil Mickelson carded a round of 71 to remain out of contention at eight-over, alongside Matteo Manassero and Ian Poulter but a shot ahead of Rickie Fowler.