Time for a little California dreaming
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- Things I'd like to see Sunday at the U.S. Open:
• A thank-you note from Tiger Woods.
It's the least he can do. After all, I'm the guy who threw myself under the golf cart this week, writing that Woods' game "is as sharp as a golf ball, that his putter needs to visit a shrink, that nobody on the Pebble Beach leaderboard is scared of him. He isn't ready to win a major -- not yet."
So what does he do? He shoots a third-round, 5-under-par 66 (31 on the back), does an Usain Bolt and sprints up the leaderboard, and begins Sunday perfectly positioned for a fourth U.S. Open championship.
You're welcome, Tiger.
Butch Harmon, one of Woods' former swing coaches, said in a recent Golf Digest interview: "If you ever want to get Tiger to do something, just tell him he can't do it. He's going to prove you wrong -- and I mean quickly."
I told Woods he wasn't ready to win his 15th major. And he proved me wrong. I'm sure we'll laugh about it over a beer and backslaps in Pebble's world-famous Tap Room when the tournament is finished.
• Someone make a 14 on No. 14.
• Then, as soon as the Open is finished, someone needs to do a Carl Spackler and blow up the diabolical green on Monday. If the Pebble owners don't, the players will.
• Given the USA's draw with England in the World Cup, an Ian Poulter clothing ensemble that features Union Jack pants and a Stars and Stripes shirt.
• Dustin Johnson, the 54-hole leader, trying to reach the par-5, 505-yard 18th in one.
"He hits it just for miles," said Woods, no slacker when it comes to bombing the ball.
True story: During a practice round this week, Woods said he saw Johnson hit a 4-iron flag high from 226 yards -- dead into the wind -- on the par-3 No. 17. "I don't know if you guys have that shot," Woods said, "but I certainly don't."
• A pulse from Johnson.
• Ryo Ishikawa's head cover gets a haircut.
• Woods wins the Open.
You think he was emotional after winning the Masters in 1997 or the British Open in 2006? After what Woods has been through the past seven months, just imagine the tears. You'll need a squeegee and a chamois.
• Johnson wins the Open.
The king of Pebble Beach. Two tour wins here and a first-ever majors win?
• Ernie Els wins the Open.
Els was nearly traumatized the last time he played the Open at Pebble. He left here in 2000 with a T-2, which was great, except for the part where he finished 15 strokes behind Woods. So how cool would it be if Els won his third Open at Pebble over Woods and was greeted by his son Ben (who was diagnosed with autism) just off the 18th green?
• Graeme McDowell wins the Open.
Lovely fellow. Would end the 40-year U.S. Open championship drought for Europeans. And how can you not like a guy who stands on the driving range about an hour before his Saturday tee time, holding a cell phone with his right hand and hitting perfect wedges with his left hand.
• Phil Mickelson wins the Open.
His wife, Amy, who is still receiving treatment for breast cancer, flew here Friday with the family. The last time she did that -- at Augusta National in April -- Mickelson won the Masters.
• Gregory Havret wins the Open.
He's French. He's paired with Woods. He's playing in his first Open.
• A federal bailout loan to pay for the golf shirt I bought in the Open merchandise center. I don't know what the markup was, but put it this way: I had to get a payment coupon book.
• Everything come down to the 18th hole.
The most famous finishing hole in the world. Ocean to the left. Fairway bunkers on the left. Trees on the right. Nervous breakdown everywhere.
Anyway, Mickelson keeps knocking his golf ball into the ocean or on the rocks on the hole.
Woods reached the green in two Saturday with a 260-yard 3-wood -- then missed the eagle, but made the birdie.
Johnson keeps pulling driver from the bag and grips and rips.
• A standing ovation for USGA setup doctor Mike Davis.
• Wind gusts so strong that the pros weep.
• A tie after 72 holes. Woods and Mickelson in a Monday playoff.
A guy can dream, can't he?
Gene Wojciechowski is the senior national columnist for ESPN.com. You can contact him at email@example.com. Hear Gene's podcasts and ESPN Radio appearances by clicking here.
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2010 U.S. OPEN
At a U.S. Open that will likely always be defined by failure, Graeme McDowell turned what was a final-day fiasco for just about everyone else into the highlight of a lifetime. Bob Harig | Championship Central2010 champion: Graeme McDowell
Course: Pebble Beach Golf Links
Where: Pebble Beach, Calif.
Yardage, par: 7,040 yards, par-71