Jacobsen ties Goosen for round of the day

PINEHURST, N.C. -- There's an old Jake Trout and the Flounders tune called, "I Love to Play." Peter Jacobsen's pretty familiar with it.

And ol' Peter -- all 51 years of him -- wore a smile that showed he could act out the lyrics during his third round of the U.S. Open:

Don't care if it's sunny
Or a rainy day
It can even be snowing, but we're still gonna play

Just making the cut in his first Open in nine years was an achievement for Jacobsen, now a regular on the Champions Tour. But his early week success was further buoyed by a spectacular round of 1-under 69 on Saturday, joining Retief Goosen as the only players to break par for the day.

Jacobsen got hot early with a birdie on the fourth hole, then another on the seventh and the coup de gras -- a one-bouncer hole-in-one on the ninth.

It was almost enough to make him start singing.

Not like that would be anything new. After all, Jacobsen is Jake Trout in the aforementioned musical group he formed with fellow golfers Mark Lye and the late Payne Stewart.

And you can excuse him if he was singing a different tune earlier this week.

In case you haven't paid much attention to golf in the past six years, Pinehurst No. 2 was the site of Payne Stewart's second U.S. Open win. His final PGA Tour victory. The place where we'll all remember him best.

A statue of Stewart -- in the familiar fist-pump pose he struck following that 20-foot par putt to win the event -- stands a mere short chip away from the 18th green.

Before this week, Jacobsen said the first thing he was going to do upon reaching the course was find his old friend behind that green.

"It's special being back here at Pinehurst after the tragedy that claimed Payne's life," Jacobsen said. "He was so close to all of us. He was such a great person.

"I've been thinking about him all week. It's hard not to. I think about him every time I play a tournament because he was such a unique character with his personality and his sense of humor and his sharing with the crowd and spontaneity."

The Flounders were a pretty fun-loving band, but you wonder if a song like "I Just Wanna Cry" ever went through Jake's mind this week.

Entering the tournament, there was plenty of talk about how this would be Phil Mickelson's time to win the title, how the '99 runner-up -- the man who Stewart grabbed by the cheeks after winning and was told he'd love being a father -- had fate on his side, someone in plus-fours and a tam o' shanter looking down on him.

Maybe the karma was all Jacobsen's.

How else to explain a guy in contention for the U.S. Open who underwent hip surgery just a few months ago? A guy whose best finish on tour this year is a share of 25th. A guy whose best performance in a major happened on the big screen when he won the U.S. Open in the movie "Tin Cup."

"This may sound crazy, but just being here this week and playing well on Thursday and Friday and having a chance to play on the weekend is very special in itself," said Jacobsen, who in addition to being a musician also hosts a TV show, runs a golf course management company and is the most jovial guy around this side of the North Pole. "If I said I could win, I'd be lying."

Perhaps it's his relationship with Stewart that is helping him along this week.

"When he won here -- anytime you're with a very close friend who wins a major championship, it's -- you get that same giddy feeling by osmosis, just the fact that you're around them."

Following the third round, Jacobsen was feeling pretty giddy himself. Partly because he played so well at Pinehurst. And partly because he had an old bandmate around again.

Jason Sobel is ESPN.com's golf editor. He can be reached at Jason.Sobel@espn3.com