Ernie Els is back.
The 42-year old is in striking distance of the 2012 U.S. Open lead at two over par. By the end of Day 4, expect Els to be crowned the Olympic Club champion.
The Big Easy’s days of dominance are long gone, but in the first three days of this year’s U.S. Open, he showed that his talent hasn’t fully escaped him just yet. Actually, he looked horrible on Day 1.
Els finished Thursday at five over par and was fighting for his life just to make the cut, let alone win the tournament. It turned out that the veteran just needed 18 holes to warm up.
Scores of 69 and 68 in Rounds 2 and 3 boosted Els all the way from hanging on to the edge of the U.S. Open cliff to fourth place and just three strokes behind Graeme McDowell and Jim Furyk going into the event’s fourth quarter. While he’s surrounded by plenty of top-notch competitors on the leaderboard, Els is the one that you should have your money on.
According to Jason Dusbee of Yahoo! Sports, Els said before Sunday: “Experience helps around here. For some reason I'm patient again this week and that's been kind of my virtue in major championship golf...the ability to be patient and wait it out.”
And Els has experienced more success in the U.S. Open than any other golfer currently in the top 10. He won the major twice and while the triumphs were back in 1994 and 1997, it isn’t like you forget how to close a championship after multiple victories (unless your most foul secret was exposed to the world causing your life to be turned upside down like Tiger Woods).
The combination of Els’ U.S. Open wisdom and the momentum that he gained from success on Days 2 and 3 will lead him to victory.
Here is the top of the current leaderboard (via ESPN).
|T1. Graeme McDowell||-1||6:10 p.m. EDT|
|T1. Jim Furyk||-1||6:10 p.m. EDT|
|3. Fredrik Jacobson||+1||6:00 p.m. EDT|
|T4. Nicolas Colsaerts||+2||5:40 p.m. EDT|
|T4. Blake Adams||+2||5:50 p.m. EDT|
|T4. Ernie Els||+2||5:50 p.m. EDT|
|T4. Lee Westwood||+2||6:00 p.m. EDT|
|T8. John Peterson||+3||5:10 p.m. EDT|
|T8. Beau Hossler||+3||5:20 p.m. EDT|
|T8. Jason Dufner||+3||5:20 p.m. EDT|
|T8. John Senden||-+3||5:30 p.m. EDT|
|T8. Kevin Chappell||+3||5:30 p.m. EDT|
|T8. Webb Simpson||+3||5:40 p.m. EDT|
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.