After Day 3 of the 2012 U.S. Open, the leaderboard is a grab bag of surprising names in unexpected places mixed with many perennial contenders.
17-year-old amateur Beau Hossler finds himself just four shots off the lead and only one behind 39-year-old Lee Westwood, who nabbed his 40th worldwide victory only last week. Despite the stark differences, these two share one thing in common: They're likely to fall through the ranks on Sunday.
Hossler, despite his age, is making his second major appearance this year and is tied for eighth heading into the final round. His performance to this point has put him in contention to break near century-long droughts. If the high schooler is able to pull off a comeback win, he'd be the first amateur to do so in 79 years.
Hossler may lack experience, but his confidence isn't in short supply. When asked if he could be the first since Johnny Goodman to pull off the feat, the youngster responded with little hesitation, per ESPN.com.
"Absolutely. There's not a doubt in my mind," he said. "Got to go out there and do everything right mentally and physically, but it's definitely out there for me."
There may be no doubt in Hossler's mind, and there's certainly no doubt his is a wonderful underdog story, but that doesn't win Open championships. Hossler is still far too raw in certain areas to reel in the leaders in Round 3. He's already missed a three-foot birdie putt and committed four bogeys early on Saturday.
Hossler did indeed follow up each bogey with a birdie, but he'll have to significantly limit the mistakes moving forward. That may just be asking too much from the first amateur in 14 years to finish in the top 10 through the first 54 holes.
Tied for fourth is Westwood, who spoke to ESPN.com regarding his hopes to finally get over the hump and win his first major.
"It's not inevitable, is it," he said. "It could happen. It could tomorrow, it could happen at the PGA, The Open, it could not happen at all. But what control do you have? You have to go out and play as well as possible."
And if Westwood can't clean up his putting game, it won't happen at the Open. Westwood's hopes for victory at the Masters collapsed in a heap when he struggled mightily in the final round with his putts.
While his 40-foot putt for birdie on the 18th hole on Saturday was impressive, it's unlikely to lift the pressure he must be feeling from short distances. Westwood's time will come eventually, though, as he's largely regarded as the best yet to win a major championship.
"I think I've probably been [in] contention in major championships more than anybody else over the last three or four years," Westwood said (via ESPN). "So I'm looking forward to tomorrow, and hopefully going to go out and have some fun and see what happens."
Westwood's three-shot deficit heading into the forth and final round won't be easy to make up, especially with the likes of Tiger Woods and Jason Dufner hot on his trail. After posting a round-best 67 on Saturday, Westwood will revert back to the 70s in Round 4.
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