Fowler gives his army something to cheer

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After a round of 73 that left him at 2-under 214 and tied for eighth, he said he’d never seen the layout play any harder.

“They’re starting to pick up speed,” he said of the greens. “It’s one of the tougher days that I’ve ever seen.”

The average score has increased every day, from 73.275 on Thursday, to 73.992 in the second round, to 74.324 on Saturday. The same conditions as in the third round _ sunny skies, cool temperatures and gusting winds _ are expected for the final round.

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THEN 36 MORE: Many of the pros are sticking around for the biggest of the 11 U.S. Open sectional qualifiers around the country on Monday. They’ll play 18 holes each at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course and Scioto Country Club, separated by just a couple of miles in suburban Upper Arlington.

Among those scheduled to participate are Davis Love III, Ben Curtis, Ricky Barnes, Camilo Villegas, Jhonattan Vegas, Jeff Overton, Chris Dimarco, Rocco Mediate, John Huh, Rory Sabbatini, Kevin Stadler, J.B. Holmes, Henrik Stenson, Brandt Jobe, Sean O’Hair and third-round leader Spencer Levin.

How several players finish in the Memorial could affect whether they get an exemption into the Open by being in the top 60 in the world to be played in two weeks at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

The USGA usually offers 15 or 20 qualifying spots from the 132-player field in the Columbus sectional because it includes so many pros.

Jack Nicklaus grew up on the Donald Ross-designed Scioto, which will host the 2016 U.S. Senior Open, and he also did the redesign of Alister MacKenzie’s original layout at Scarlet.

For pairings: http://www.ohiogolf.org/html/tournaments_results.asp?tid411&rliveTPP&orgUSGA&year2012.

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DIVOTS: Also playing on Monday, only in the smaller qualifier in nearby Springfield, Ohio, is Levin’s friend and caddie, Jon Torcott. Torcott is filling in this week for his regular caddie, Mike Hicks, who stayed home for his son’s high school graduation. … Past Memorial champion Jim Furyk opened birdie, bogey, double-bogey, par, eagle, double-bogey and ended up with a 75 that left him at 215. … Woods, who shot a 73 and was alone in fourth at 212, said he played with the flu. “I’ve been better,” he said when asked how he felt. … The last time the third-round leader had a higher score than Levin’s 208 was Greg Norman’s 216 in 1990. … Brandt Snedeker withdrew before the third round with a rib injury. … Levin had 11 putts in his first 10 holes, including chip-ins for eagle at 5 and birdie at 10. … The last time Woods came from behind to win a tournament was also in Ohio _ at the 2009 Bridgestone at Akron Firestone, when he erased a three-shot disadvantage to Padraig Harrington through 54 holes. … Woods trails by four strokes, the same disadvantage he overcome against third-round leader Paul Azinger to win the 2001 Memorial. … If Woods ends up winning the Memorial, it’ll mark the third time in his career he’s won at Bay Hill (Arnold Palmer) and Memorial (Jack Nicklaus) in the same year. … Dustin Johnson, making his first start since injuring his back in late March, recorded only the third eagle ever on the 13th hole when he holed a lob wedge from 118 yards.

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Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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