All were taking aim at the red wicker baskets that sit atop the pins at Merion, all trying to follow Olin Dutra, Ben Hogan, Lee Trevino and David Graham as U.S. Open champions who conquered the tough little course in the Philadelphia suburbs.
While the leaders were waiting to tee off, Tiger Woods went through the motions of extending his majors drought into a sixth year. It was an unfamiliar sight to see the world’s No. 1 golfer teeing off on a Sunday more than three hours before the top pairing, but he was 10 strokes off the lead after a third-round 76 that matched his worst U.S. Open round as a pro.
Woods wore his usual Sunday red shirt, but it didn’t keep him from quickly achieving a dubious double _ out of bounds and a 3-putt on the same hole. That made for a triple-bogey 8 at No. 2. He shot a 74 to finish 13 over par.
Sunday was five years to the day since Woods won the U.S. Open at Torrey Pines. His running tally of majors wins is stuck on 14, four shy of Jack Nicklaus’ record.
“I did a lot of things right,” Woods said. “Unfortunately, I did a few things wrong as well.”
Hopes for a Grand Slam were also officially dashed. Masters champion Adam Scott shot a 75 to finish 15 over for the tournament.
Meanwhile, Shawn Stefani found a unique way to solve Merion: Hit the ball in the rough and get a hole-in-one. His 4-iron at the 229-yard, par-3 17th landed left of the green, bounced down the slope and meandered its way some 50 feet across the green and into the hole.
Stefani nearly jumped out of his skin. Then he kissed the spot where the ball landed.
“We’re in Philly,” he said. “There’s some great fans up here, and I know they can be tough on you and they can love you forever. So I’m sure they appreciated me going to the ground and kissing it.”
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