Coming into the final day of action for the 2012 U.S. Open, the leaderboard has Graeme McDowell (-1) and Jim Furyk (-1) comfortably sitting at the top.
The golfers are the only two in the tournament that are below par, and both have been very impressive in the action of the weekend thus far. When they tee off on Sunday, they will take with them the carried momentum of the previous three days and hope to hoist a master’s championship. As the leaders of the tournament, they are likely considered the odds-on favorites from most perspectives.
However, they are not the only ones who I would expect greatness from. McDowell and Furyk both have their own history of the weekend going for them, but a late push from any of the other golfers is still yet to be seen. After all, 17 players are within five shots of McDowell and Furyk.
If gambling were legal, here are some of the favorites that I like in this evening’s Father’s Day performances!
McDowell (-1) has been dominant so far, and a spot atop the leaderboard has been rightfully earned.
The Northern Irish golfer had his most impressive day of the tournament on Saturday, shooting a 68. His third-round performance boasted three birdies to only one bogey, and a resilient effort on the 18th hole in which he bounced back from two consecutive poor showings for his final appearance of the day: a birdie that gave him the pole spot.
Graeme McDowell has experience closing out U.S. Open victories on Father’s Day, as the Irishman did exactly that in the 2010 tournament following a roller coaster finish over Dustin Johnson.
"It doesn't feel much different than two years ago," McDowell told the Miami Herald. "I guess I know what to expect now. That's probably the only difference. Emotionally, I went through the same experience today like I did two years ago. I was anxious and I was nervous. Two years ago, Saturday was a tough day for me. And hopefully tomorrow, I'll know what to expect for the day.”
McDowell comes into Sunday in the pole spot, and tees off at 6:10 p.m. ET.
History, unfortunately, is not on the side of Jim Furyk (-1).
The last time that the leader after Round 3 even broke par in the U.S. Open after the final day and before Rory McIlroy did it last year was in 2000. Tiger Woods did so in 2000 at Pebble Beach. Anecdotes may remind you of former leader Aaron Baddeley, who shot a triple bogey on the first hole and quickly lost his lead.
Furyk, however, need not be too worried.
''Obviously, I like being up front in the position I'm in,'' Furyk told FoxSports. "The golf course will take its effect on a bunch of people. And the guys that go out there and deal with the conditions and the situations the best...those are the guys that have some success and have an opportunity to win the last few holes.''
Furyk also tees off at 6:10 p.m.
As the word’s No. 3 player, Lee Westwood (+2) has the most to prove by winning this year’s U.S. Open.
After all, Westwood has never won a major championship. His Round 3 (67) was the best in the tournament, as he climbed up the leaderboard and into a tie for the fourth overall spot. Westwood may have had a poor showing in the first two rounds by his standards; it was his putter, surprisingly, that has helped him reach dominance so far.
It has been his ability to stay calm, too, that has brought him to the success that he is after today. He may have not won yet, but that hasn’t made him fret much longer.
"I had a lot of fun out there," Westwood told Yahoo! Sports after Round 3. "Really enjoyed the day. Finished it off nicely. A lot of good chance to shoot a really good score out there."
Westwood begins his day at 6:00 p.m.
Ernie Els (+2) is the most experienced golfer who remains in this tournament. He has won it twice, and he's a three-time major champion.
''Experience helps around here,'' Els told FoxSports. ''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 I think you're going to have to do that tomorrow.''
Els has been an exciting player all tournament long. His eagle chip helped him land in contention, and his consistent player has helped him stay there. The last time that Els won was at the 2002 British Open—almost 10 years ago to the month—but his experience will help him with poise and confidence.
Ernie Els tees off at 5:50 p.m.
OTHER GOLFERS LIKELY STILL IN CONTENTION:
Fredrik Jacobson (+1), Nicolas Colsaerts (+2), Beau Hossler (+3), Tiger Woods (+4)
LIKELY NO LONGER IN CONTENTION OR ELIMINATED:
Angel Cabrera (+7), Phil Mickelson (+8), Bubba Watson (+9), Rory McIlroy (+10), Luke Donald (+11)