Retief Goosen will return to Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa today with a chance to book his place in the golfing history books by becoming the third South African to win the US Open Championship.
The 31 year old member of The European Tour will follow in the footsteps of Gary Player, who won at Bellerive in 1965, and Ernie Els, who triumphed at Oakmont in 1994 and Congressional in 1997, if he can triumph in the 18 hole play off with Mark Brooks.
Both finished their four rounds on four under par 276 after Brooks, the 1996 US PGA champion, carded a final round 70 while Goosen, a four time winner on The European Tour International Schedule, finished with a hard fought 71 on one of the toughest courses ever to stage the US Open.
The crowning of Goosen as champion would be the icing on the cake of an excellent week for The European Tour which saw a record 26 members tee up on Thursday, from which 18 made the cut.
Aside from the South African, Vijay Singh, who was accorded honorary membership during the week of the Volvo PGA Championship at Wentworth Club, tied for seventh place after a superb final round 64.
Angel Cabrera, winner of the Open de Argentina in April, finished alongside Singh on two over par 282 while Sergio Garcia ended his tournament in 12th place on three over par 283, the same mark as defending champion Tiger Woods.
Further down, the creditable showing continued with Thomas Björn, Jesper Parnevik, Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington and Bob May all finishing in the top 30.
At the head of affairs, both Goosen and Brooks had a chance to claim the title outright but each suffered the disappointment of three-putting the 72nd hole for respective bogey fives.
However the South African preferred to look forward to today’s tussle instead of back at events of the final round. “Obviously it’s not what I wanted to happen but I genuinely believe that I can still go on and win,” he said.
Behind the leading contenders, American Stewart Cink secured his best US Open finish, taking third on three under par 277 while Rocco Mediate claimed fourth on two under 278. In fifth were Paul Azinger and Tom Kite, the 51 year old who won in 1992, matching Singh’s final round 64.
Elsewhere, former Masters champion, Bernhard Langer, who had come to Southern Hills on the back of four successive top ten finishes on the USPGA Tour including a second at the previous week’s FedEx St Jude Classic, returned a 74 for a four round aggregate of 289 to finish two shots in front of Eduardo Romero and three ahead of José Coceres and Colin Montgomerie.
Further down the leaderboard, Ernie Els finished on 294 alongside Australia’s Peter Lonard, who had come through the final Qualifying event at the Lakes G&CC in Westerville, Ohio.
Nick Faldo closed with a five over par 75 to finish tied in 72nd place on 295 and Scotland’s Gary Orr and Sweden’s Mathias Grönberg completed the championship in a share of 74th place on 16 over par 296.