Sunday, 17 June 2012
Lee Westwood  (Getty Images)
Lee Westwood (Getty Images)

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Lee Westwood led a sensational charge of Europeans as the race for the US Open Championship blew wide open during the third round at The Olympic Club.

The World Number Three from England, who started the week with a double bogey six, holed a 40 foot birdie putt at the last for a 67 and the clubhouse lead on two over par.

That was just two behind on-course leader Jim Furyk, while Nicolas Colsaerts, Graeme McDowell and Fredrik Jacobson were all right in the thick of the action.

Overnight pacesetters Tiger Woods, Furyk and David Toms all had early problems in San Francisco.

Woods and Furyk had two bogeys in the first five holes and Toms three, meaning 2010 champion McDowell had only to open with six straight pars to be part of a five-way tie at the top.

Alongside him on one over par were Woods, Furyk, Belgian Colsaerts and Swede Jacobson, who completed a superb front nine 32 with three successive birdies.

Westwood resumed in only 29th place, but making his 57th attempt to win a Major, birdied the fifth and seventh, bogeyed the next two, but then started for home by holing from 12 and five feet.

With Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy missing the halfway cut Westwood also had the chance to regain the World Number One position he last held 13 months ago, but it was winning that was all that really mattered.

McDowell had a chance to lead on his own when he drove just through the green at the 268 yard seventh. He chipped to eight feet, but missed his birdie putt.

Woods sent his opening three wood into the left-hand rough and could not recover, then three-putted from just short of the green on the 256 yard par three third.

Furyk, winner in Chicago in 2003, and Toms also bogeyed the first. 

Toms then missed an eight footer at the third and both he and Furyk dropped a further stroke at the fifth.

Westwood failed to birdie the two par fives, the 16th and 17th, but that was forgotten as he sank a 40 footer on the last for a brilliant 67.

He set the clubhouse target of two over and was joint fourth - an improvement of 25 spots on the day - but was two behind as Furyk got up and down from sand at the driveable seventh.

The 42 year old American was level par, with McDowell and Colsaerts one over and Westwood alongside Jacobson, who three-putted the 12th, and Woods, who slipped to three over for the day by failing to get up and down from short of the sixth and then could do no better than par at the next after also finding a bunker.

“I’m really pleased,” said Westwood, who won last week’s Nordea Masters. “I gave myself a lot of really good chances out there. 

“It was nice to hole the really long one at 18. I hit a lot more fairways, hit a lot of good shots. I played a really sensible, professional round out there.”

"This is another one I could win," he added, after being reminded he had had ten top-tens and seven top-threes in Majors.

"I'm doing something right, aren't I? I've played well and I've been close. Somebody has played a little bit better and I've made a few mistakes. I'm learning and I think I have a lot of game for Major Championships."

McDowell bogeyed the ninth after a wayward drive into the trees but came back with a four foot birdie to be only one behind Furyk again, and also Colsaerts.

The European Tour’s longest hitter carded his first birdie at the 11th to reach level par.

Woods finally made a birdie, a ten footer at the ninth to turn in a three over 37. He was two back, as was Ernie Els after the South African chipped in for eagle at the 17th.

Jacobson took over the clubhouse lead on one over, holing from 18 feet for birdie at the 17th, but missing a ten foot opportunity on the last.

Furyk still led at one under with four to play, one in front of McDowell and two in front of Jacobson and Colsaerts, who three-putted the short 15th.

Woods had started the back nine with five successive pars and was joint fifth with Westwood and Els.

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