- Associated Press - Saturday, June 16, 2012

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Somewhere along The Olympic Club’s tight, twisting fairways, 17-year-old Beau Hossler went from thinking he could be the low amateur to believing he could win the whole tournament.

Apparently he wasn’t the only one.

Tiger Woods’ agent approached Hossler’s dad outside the scorer’s room late Saturday afternoon, shook his hand and said, “This is unbelievable. He can win this thing.”

Ten minutes later, after signing for an even-par 70 that left him tied for eighth _ four shots off the lead _ in the U.S. Open, he reiterated that sentiment.

“Absolutely,” said Hossler, who earned a standing ovation from spectators above the historic 18th green. “There’s not a doubt in my mind. Got to go out there and do everything right mentally and physically. But it’s definitely out there for me.”

He had a 3-over 213 total, a shot better than 14-time major winner Woods and five better than idol Phil Mickelson. Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell shared the lead at 1-under 209.

While fans would serenade Mickelson with a chorus of “Happy Birthday” when he finished No. 18, they gave the kid in braces a standing ovation, shouting “Hook `Em Hossler” for his commitment to play at Texas in 2013

“I turned to him and said, `How good is this?’ Just enjoy it,” said caddie Bill Schellenberg, Hossler’s godfather. “He just looked at me with a huge smile.”

Hossler already has made history _ becoming the first since Mason Rudolph in 1950-51 to qualify for consecutive U.S. Opens as a high school player.

But a Sunday victory would make him one of only six amateurs to win a U.S. Open _ putting him in the company of Francis Ouimet and Bobby Jones, who did it four times.

Hossler couldn’t name an exact moment when his goals changed.

But being able to battle back from every bogey he posted Saturday surely had something to do with it.

“I backed them all up with a birdie,” Hossler said matter-of-factly.

Schellenberg, who kept Hossler loose by cracking jokes, wasn’t surprised.

“He has really good resolve. The kid doesn’t quit. It’s just awesome,” Schellenberg said. “He has an unbelievable ability to get upset, get it out and get it over with and get onto the next shot. I don’t know what it looked like, but he and I were having a grand time.”

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