San Francisco, CA – The title of 'best player never to win a major' gets handed down from player to player through the generations.
For the longest time, Phil Mickelson owned that title. Since he's broken through, there are several players that could be in the running for the moniker.
One of those, world No. 2 Lee Westwood, matched the low round of the day on Saturday at the 112th U.S. Open Championship with his 3-under 67.
That helped the Englishman finish 54 holes at 2-over-par 212. That is pretty impressive for a player that was 6-over par through the first six holes on Thursday.
Westwood birdied the fifth and seventh, but gave those strokes right back with bogeys at eight and nine. Those were the last mistakes of the round.
The 39-year-old poured in back-to-back birdie tries from the 10th. After six pars in a row, Westwood ran home a 40-footer for birdie at the last to finish at 2-over.
"I had a lot of fun out there. Really enjoyed the day. Finished it off nicely," Westwood stated. "A lot of good chances to shoot a really good score out there. But obviously a 67 isn't a really low score, but I had a couple good chances at 16 and 17 that I didn't birdie and then I made the bomb at the last that you don't expect. So it was a good way to finish."
In his 59th major, Westwood is looking to break through and win that elusive first major championship title. He has seven second- or third- place finishes.
In 2010, Westwood finished second at both the Masters, where he ended three shots behind, and the British Open, where he was seven strokes back.
He has twice finished third at the U.S. Open, and tied for seventh at The Olympic Club in 1998.
"I think I've probably been this contention in major championships more than anybody else over the last three or four years," said Westwood, who has finished in the top 11 in seven of the last 11 majors. "So I'm looking forward to tomorrow and hopefully going to go out and have some fun and see what happens."
ELS LURKING AFTER 68
Ernie Els was quickly eight strokes off the pace as he bogeyed three of his first five holes on Saturday at the U.S. Open. However, the two-time champion showed his mettle.
The South African birdied the short seventh to move to 4-under par for the week on that hole. He made it two in a row with a birdie on the eighth.
Els dropped in a birdie chance on the 12th to get back to even-par for his round and 4-over for the championship. He parred the next four holes.
At the par-5 17th, Els missed the green to the right and his ball ran well down the chipping area. Not to worry. He hit a perfect chip that rolled into the hole for an improbable eagle.
"I'm in a much better mood now than I was on the sixth tee," Els joked. "This afternoon I was 3-over for the round, 7-over for the event. So to come back and play the last 12 holes in 5-under is quite amazing, and obviously the shot on 17 is what dreams are made of. So I'm really pleased."
Like the seventh, Els is 4-under on that hole this week. So he's played the seventh and 17th at minus-8, and the other 16 holes in 10-over par.
* The last four players that have won this championship on this course have come from behind in the final round.
* John Peterson had a hole-in-one on the par-three 13th. That was the first ace of the championship.
* Only eight players in their 40s have won the US Open. The late Payne Stewart was the last one in 1999.
* Casey Wittenberg, who made cut on the number, matched Lee Westwood for the low round of the day with his 3-under 67. When Wittenberg left course, he was tied for 26th. But with the difficult conditions, Wittenberg ended in a share of 18th.
* Despite playing just 107 yards, the par-3 15th yielded just eight birdies all day.
* Thirteen sub-70 scores today at The Olympic Club. There were 13 the first two days combined.
* For the third straight day, the par-five 17th was the easiest hole. It played to an average of 4.56 strokes on Saturday and has been played to an average of 4.73 shots through three rounds.
* The par-four sixth was the toughest hole for the second round in a row, averaging 4.53 strokes. After three rounds, the sixth was the hardest overall as it has averaged of 4.55 strokes.