US Open Golf 2012 Leaderboard: Why Ernie Els Will Emerge from Pack Victorious

David Daniels@TheRealDDanielsSenior Writer IJune 17, 2012

DUBLIN, OH - MAY 31:  Erine Els of South Africa hits his tee shot on the par 4 3rd hole during the first round of the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide Insurance at Muirfield Village Golf Club on May 31, 2012 in Dublin, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

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.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 16:  Ernie Els of South Africa plays a shot on the 18th hole during the third round of the 112th U.S. Open at The Olympic Club on June 16, 2012 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
David Cannon/Getty Images

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).

Player Score Tee Time
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.