- Jason Sobel, Senior Golf Writer
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Throughout this week, ESPN.com golf writer Jason Sobel will be live blogging from the U.S. Open, bringing you inside information and analysis from Torrey Pines. Refresh this page often to keep track of all the entries during each round. (All times are Pacific time.)
Have a question or comment for Sobel? E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
7:45 p.m.: Well, that's all from Torrey Pines for today. Tiger Woods shoots a ho-hum 70, but hey, there's always tomorrow for a little excitement, right? And for those who like discussing TV telecasts, I'll throw this out there: Sunday night, U.S. Open, final round,
biggest ratings for a golf tournament. Ever. You heard it here first.
Back here tomorrow at around 1:30 p.m. PT (4:30 ET), give or take. Should be a momentous day, with Tiger Woods either limping to victory or defeat. Until then, hit 'em straight
7:40 p.m.: A few good comparisons, each from multiple readers, in other sports: Michael Jordan's "flu game" in Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Finals and Kirk Gibson's pinch-hit home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.
Tiger's exploits today on one leg are right there with both of 'em.
7:34 p.m.: Now here's a little more level-headed perspective, from Charles in Parts Unknown:
- I know this might sound weird and all, but doesn't Tiger need to play better than he did today to win tomorrow? If he misses fairways as badly as today, and misses the 50-footers he made today, his round won't be nearly good enough, will it? He can't rely on crazy luck and long bombs tomorrow.
Not sure I'd characterize any eagles or birdies as "luck" -- I mean, Tiger will be the first to say that's exactly what he was trying to do -- but the simple fact is, he could shoot 70 again tomorrow and not win the tournament. And then that so-called "greatest round of all time" will mean absolutely nothing. Especially to Woods.
7:30 p.m.: Remember what I said about not throwing out too many superlatives when it comes to Tiger? Case in point: This e-mail from Eric in Parts Unknown:
- Regardless of what happens, we have just witnessed the single greatest round in golf history, possibly the top sporting moment ever.
No. Not even close. It was really cool, it was compelling, it was emotional. We all have goose bumps. Greatest round in golf history? Are you forgetting that it also included a double and three bogeys? Hell, if we want to be technical about it, it wasn't even the greatest round of the day -- Brandt Snedeker shot 68. Of course, Snedeker could also walk without use of a cane, but let's not overreact to this one.
The most compelling six holes of Tiger's career? I say yes. The greatest round in the history of golf? No way.
7:26 p.m.: Didn't get a chance to speak with Westwood -- he wanted to hit some balls on the range before dark -- but he did say that he's faced Tiger Woods in a final-round battle before and beaten him, at the Deutsche Bank in Germany a few years back. Does that mean anything? Not necessarily. Not if Tiger keeps putting like he did today.
7:18 p.m.: Stick with me for a few more minutes. Going to try to speak with Lee Westwood outside the interview room. Might ask if he knows Jeff Gillooly's phone number.
7:16 p.m.: For what it's worth, when I sat down with Tiger late last year, he told me the 1997 Masters was the greatest victory of his career.
Nothing he does tomorrow could change that. But his second-greatest win? Very possible, considering what he's going through right now.
7:13 p.m.: Look, I'm not one to throw out superlatives and when it comes to overemphasizing a Tiger Woods accomplishment as compared with something else he's done in his career, I think we need to be very careful. But the last six holes of today's round may have been the most compelling six rounds of golf in Tiger Woods' career. Not as groundbreaking as the 1997 Masters, not as dominant as the 2000 U.S. Open, not as dramatic as the 2000 PGA Championship. But compelling? Absolutely.
7:11 p.m.: Officially, Tiger Woods went one hour and 17 minutes without making a bomb of an eagle ... until the final hole of the day.
Eagle at the last gives Woods a third-round 70 and at 3-under, puts him in sole possession of the 54-hole lead by 1 stroke over Lee Westwood.
7:07 p.m.: Fun fact: If the 63-year-old Woods wins this event, he'd become the oldest major winner, surpassing Jack Nicklaus by 17 years.
What's that? Tiger's only 32? If you couldn't see his face and only saw him walking from a distance, you'd absolutely think he was 63 years old. He's in total pain right now, can barely walk ... but he can hit the ball. And putt. He can definitely putt, too.
7:05 p.m.: Tiger Woods hits his second shot onto the green on 18. He'll have a lengthy eagle putt. Hmmm ... when was the last time we saw him make a lengthy eagle putt? Hasn't been for over an hour. He's due.
6:58 p.m.: Some reactions to Tiger's hole-out for birdie ...
From Joshua in Parts Unknown:
- Seriously ... two miracles on the back nine?
Is there anything Tiger can't do? He's playing on one leg, hasn't played in two months, and he still should win the tournament. Unbelievable.
From Gary in Fontana, Calif.:
- Tiger's chip in for birdie on 17 may just make the number one spot on SportsCenter, relegating the 80-foot birdie putt on 13 to No. 2.
From Brandon in Prattville, Ala.:
- That shot was the perfect medicine. I bet his knee feels 10 times better after that shot.
From Pat on the course at Torrey Pines:
- That was a great H-O-R-S-E shot.
6:55 p.m.: Oh, and I still don't think he's DQing. By the way.
6:54 p.m.: I take it back.
That "defining shot of the tournament" stuff I said after Tiger Woods' long eagle putt on 13? A thing of the past. Woods just one-hopped a chip from the greenside rough on 17 right into the cup for birdie. Instead of a fist-pump, Woods just smiled and looked embarrassed. Then Stevie helped him walk. Unreal.
Woods is at 1-under with a par-5 coming up at the last. Do I smell double-eagle? (I'm kidding. Sort of.)
6:47 p.m.: Lee Westwood with a five-foot birdie on 18 ... and he misses. Westy shoots 70. He'll go into the final 18 at 2-under. By the way, he's shot 70-71-70 with a total of seven birdies, five bogeys and 42 pars. Those are the kinds of grind-it-out numbers that win the U.S. Open.
6:44 p.m.: Just received about a dozen e-mails at the same exact time asking the same exact question: Do you think Tiger is going to withdraw?
Let's see ... eight weeks after having major surgery ... and rehabbing the entire time ... and pushing himself to the point of extreme pain ... and preparing for the U.S. Open ... and getting himself into contention through three rounds ... do I think he'll pack it in after tonight and just go home instead of playing 18 more holes in hopes of winning his 14th career major?
Uh, no. No I don't.
6:42 p.m.: Has any player ever won the U.S. Open while using a cane? Tiger pushes his drive on 17 way right, then uses his 3-wood to help walk down the fairway. If he was a soccer player, Stevie would be giving him the magic spray after every shot right now.
6:35 p.m.: Well, I predicted a Rocco meltdown a few minutes ago, but I didn't really think it would happen, like, immediately. (Or was that Im-Mediate-ly? Eh, maybe not.)
Rocco makes double-bogey on 15; he's now at 1-under, a stroke behind our new leader, Lee Westwood.
6:29 p.m.: ESPNEWS interview. Back in a few ...
6:26 p.m.: E-mail from Daniel in Birmingham:
- We are getting to the end of the third round. It's time to ask the serious questions: Can Rocco Mediate really win this thing? Who do you like right now to win it?
This might come as a shock, but I'll take Tiger Woods. If I had to handicap this thing right now, I'd go with the following:
• Tiger Woods: 1 to 1.
• Lee Westwood: 2.5 to 1
• Geoff Ogilvy: 5 to 1
• Rocco Mediate: 6 to 1
• Miguel Angel Jimenez: 7 to 1
I know the math may be off there, but I just don't see Rocco winning this thing.
6:19 p.m.: Good observation from Bradley in Sacramento:
- On that last drive on 15, Tiger did not look good. He is obviously in great pain.
Probably the most noticeable limp we've seen all week. Still not positive it's affecting his swing, though.
6:14 p.m.: Miguel Angel Jimenez is holding steady at 1-over. One year after a cigarette smoker won the Open, we could have a cigar smoker take the title. This from Bob Harig (who's cut down on his Chipwich intake since I started blogging about it): "Earlier this year, I was working out at Doral. Jimenez was running on the treadmill for a while, then he stopped, went outside and immediately lit up a cigar." Ah, a quality stogie is always the perfect culmination to a solid workout!
6:08 p.m.: A few thoughts on Tiger's bomb of a putt ...
From John in Poulsbo, Wash.:
- HOLY COW!!! This guy never stops amazing me!!!
From Daniel in Birmingham, Ala.:
- We just had an earthquake all the way in Alabama after that Tiger Woods eagle.
From Scott in Parts Unknown:
- An amazing putt by Tiger. Another roar like that, and we'll have some serious hillside erosion.
From Josh in Minnesota:
- I've holed out for eagle from the fairway from 110 yards. It was more exciting to watch Eldrick make that eagle than it was to hole out from 110 yards. That's not an exaggeration. He does things that are simply incredible.
From Sam in Monterey:
- Would like to call it now ... Tiger's eagle is No. 1 or 2 on ESPN SportsCenter's Top 10 tonight.
And Tiger follows it all up with ... bogey on 14. What's the opposite of the bounce-back? A fall-down? Whatever it is, Woods drives it right, finds the left bunker with his second and can't get up and down.
6:01 p.m.: ESPNEWS interview. Back in a few ...
5:59 p.m.: E-mail from Stephen in Parts Unknown:
- Tiger makes video game putts.
Do you think he could hear that heartbeat sound as he was lining up his putt? Did he line it up in the crosshairs?
5:54 p.m.: If Tiger Woods goes on to win this U.S. Open, we just witnessed what could be his defining shot of the week. After hitting his second shot on the par-5 13th hole right over the flagstick to the back fringe, Woods holes a 60- (70? 80?) foot putt for eagle. I think the ground is still shaking about two miles away. What a putt. What a huge fist pump. He's back into red numbers, three behind Rocco Mediate.
5:52 p.m.: For those who'd like to start engraving Rocco Mediate's name on the U.S. Open trophy right now, I'd just like to remind you that this is a guy who has had a tendency in his career of making a big number during crunch time. He entered the final round of the 2006 Masters in a share of fourth place, but emptied his bag into Rae's Creek (OK, it was three balls) en route to an 80.
5:47 p.m.: Another note from ESPN researcher David Bearman: Tiger had three double-bogeys in his first 37 holes this week.
His three previous double-bogeys on the PGA Tour came over a total of 702 holes.
5:42 p.m.: Tiger Woods makes bogey on the 12th hole, falling to 1-over.
Perhaps this is all part of Woods' plan to catch Jack Nicklaus' all-time major record. No, not that record; I'm talking about the record for most second-place finishes. After finishing as runner-up in just two of his first 40 majors as a pro, Tiger now has three seconds in his past five appearances. Maybe this whole bogey one, birdie one thing is just an effort to remain close enough to keep him within striking distance of moving to within 13 of Jack's runner-up record.
5:32 p.m.: Birdie for Lee Westwood on No. 13 and he's within 2 strokes of Rocco Mediate.
I know I've mentioned this a few times during the week, both in the Live Blog and in other columns, but if any European can win this week, he'd join Tony Jacklin (1970) as the only Euro champion of this event since 1925. That's a ridiculous stat. I mean, that 83-year period includes everyone from Henry Cotton to Seve Ballesteros to Nick Faldo -- pretty amazing streak.
By the way, in looking at the major records of Europeans during that time, I hadn't realized that none of 'em won one from the 1951 PGA Championship (Max Faulkner) to the 1969 British Open (Jacklin).
5:25 p.m.: Some nuggets from Phil Mickelson's postround soiree with the media:
• On the course: "I just think this is the best [U.S. Open] setup that I've seen. I feel like kind of the Boston Celtics going from last year to this year. I thought last year was one of the toughest and this year is by far the best I've ever seen."
• On putting his driver in the bag: "I didn't hit that many drivers -- I didn't hit it on 18, I hit 3-wood -- I felt like it gives me more fairway, and I was able to go for it. But I needed to try to make some birdies and get a few shorter irons in, being that I was 4-over. And started out hitting some decent drives, but the back nine I missed some fairways and that was costly."
• On his quadruple-bogey: "Well, gosh, it's a birdie hole. And here I was 1-over par, I felt like if I could get birdie there on 13, I could get back to even for the day. And over par's going to win. I felt like, gosh, one or two coming in I would be right there. And so that's obviously a bummer."
• On the last time he made a quad at No. 13: "I've had a 9 on 13. I was 8 years old, but I have had a 9 there."
5:17 p.m.: E-mail from Justin in Parts Unknown:
- Rocco Mediate is a dead ringer for Voldemort from Harry Potter. I think that he and Ralph Fiennes could be related.
Harry Potter? Is he related to the guy who missed all those cuts on the Nationwide Tour a year ago?
Meanwhile, Rocco makes birdie on 10 to open up a 3-shot lead once again.
5:10 p.m.: Well, it was nice seeing Stuart Appleby on the leaderboard for a few days at least, huh? Apples with a 3-foot putt on No. 9 for birdie ... and he makes bogey. Anyone know the Heimlich maneuver?
The solo leader entering Round 3, he's now T-10 after a front-nine 41.
5:04 p.m.: E-mail from Mike in Blacksburg, Va.:
- Say Robert Karlsson wanted a memento from this round and took a picture in the middle of Tiger's swing. With Karlsson being 6-foot-5, who do you think would win in a fight between him and Steve Williams?
I'll put it this way: Steve Williams could beat up 10 Chuck Norrises ... and throw their cameras into Devlin's Billabong, too. One Robert Karlsson? He wouldn't stand a chance.
4:58 p.m.: ESPNEWS interview. Back in a few ...
4:45 p.m.: E-mail from Winnie in Parts Unknown:
- May I please have your commentary on Camilo Villegas' pink pants? If Sergio gets grief for his outfits (not this tournament, per se) then let's give Camilo his fair share.
I watched Camilo tee off the first hole from just a few feet away earlier and I can confirm -- those pants are very pink. Now, I'm OK with light blue, purple, even lime green (I have a sweet pair), but pink could be pushing the limits. At the risk of continuing yesterday's awful puns, let me say this (as I wince): If Paula Creamer is the Pink Panther, perhaps we can now call Camilo Villegas the Pink Panster.
Ouch. I'm regretting that already. Two-stroke penalty on me. You can DQ me, if you'd like, but then the Live Blog would be done for good.
4:39 p.m.: Sergio Garcia finished up about a half-hour ago, posting a 1-under 70 to go into Sunday at 3-over. Is he still in contention for his first major victory? Absolutely, especially if Rocco Mediate comes back to the pack a little and everyone else stays where they are.
And you can make the case that Sergio is playing better golf than anyone else over the past two-and-a-half rounds. After an opening-nine score of 41 on Thursday, he's played his last 45 holes in 3-under.
4:35 p.m.: Miguel Angel
Jimenez just drained a long birdie putt from off the green. He and his ponytail move into a share of second place at even-par.
Somewhere, Alice Cooper and Kenny G are smiling.
4:32 p.m.: Hmmm ... Tiger Woods finally starts hitting the driver straight and guess what? He parlays that into birdie. Woods makes his first red number of the day at the seventh; he's back to even-par overall.
4:28 p.m.: Some good notes on Phil Mickelson's round from ESPN researcher David Bearman:
• Mickelson's 76 was his worst third round at a major since the 2002 PGA Championship (78).
• The last time he shot a score this high at the U.S. Open was in the second round in 2005 (77).
The quadruple-bogey 9 he took on the par-5 13th hole was the first quad at a major in his career.
4:21 p.m.: E-mail from Matt in Australia:
- Another argument for more West Coast venues: It's a lot easier for me to get up at 8 a.m. to watch my Australian countrymen choke their brains out than 5 a.m.
Good point. Right now, the top three Aussies, Stuart Appleby (4-over through five), Geoff Ogilvy (2-over through nine) and Robert Allenby (3-over through eight), are a combined 9-over in 22 holes today.
4:18 p.m.: OK, I cheated a little on the last one. I was halfway through the sentence about Westwood when he made bogey on the eighth hole. Nice of the Blog Jinx to not even wait for me to finish my thought before jinxing players right now.
4:17 p.m.: Double-bogey for Stuart Appleby on No 5. He's now 4-over for the day and 1-over for the tournament.
There are now only two players in red numbers: Rocco Mediate, who is 3-under; and Lee Westwood, who is 1-under and barely been mentioned in the Live Blog all week. Certainly, this won't jinx him.
4:11 p.m.: E-mail from Joseph in Norway, who counters Tyler's earlier claim about the late tee times:
- Here in Europe, we prefer the U.S. Open to be on the East Coast. Tournament broadcasts on the right coast start at about 7 p.m. and end at midnight. Beer and pizza, all night along. Loving it. On the West Coast, we have to stretch it to about 3 a.m., and have about six more beers.
Well, I think that settles it. From now on, the USGA should hold every tournament on the West Coast ... and we'll all go to Norway to watch it on TV!
4:05 p.m.: I knew this was coming after my earlier post. From Colin in Boston:
- According to this Web site, his calculated handicap for a couple of tournaments last year and some this year is plus-8.5. Not bad.
He's 3-over through five holes today. Here's the good news if it doesn't get any better for him: At least his handicap might move up a little bit. Can't be much fun to give a 10-handicap a stroke per hole.
3:59 p.m.: ESPNEWS interview. Back in a few ...
3:55 p.m.: Mat in Charlottesville, Va., checks in with what is by far the most clever e-mail of the close to 1,500 I've received so far this week:
- While everyone knows about the famed Torrey pines that line the course, no one mentions the handful of enormous eucalyptus -- a tree originally indigenous to Australia -- found throughout the grounds. If Stuart Appleby were to go on to win and Tiger can't catch him, perhaps we can blame Leyland Stanford Sr., who introduced this Australian giant to California in hopes of growing cheap wood for railroad ties. Oh the irony, if Appleby were to defeat Tiger because of a Stanford jinx.
Now that, my friends, is a blog entry! Good work by Mat. Let's see more of this from everyone else.
3:52 p.m.: Justin in Parts Unknown corrects an earlier error:
- How is Tiger Woods on pace to shoot 143? If he double-bogeyed every hole he would shoot 107.
Last time I try to add without a calculator.
Like Phil Mickelson once famously said ... I'm such an idiot!
3:46 p.m.: E-mail from my buddy Tyler in NYC:
- I'm not sure if the folks at the USGA are aware but you can't overstated how AWESOME these late start times are for golf fans on the East Coast. I was able to take my kids swimming this morning, play 18-holes this afternoon (3:15 minute round!!) and I'm back home ready to watch Tiger's entire round into the evening. Just about a perfect day. They should have the Open out west more often.
Couldn't agree more. And I think that if ratings show an increase from previous years, there's no reason the USGA won't do this more often in the future. As I told CNBC's Darren Rovell in an interview the other day, it just doesn't make sense for the USGA not to want prime-time coverage. There could be a time when the Open goes from Torrey to Pebble to Chambers Bay to Torrey to Pebble to Chambers Bay to Torrey to Pebble to Chambers Bay ...
OK, so that's an exaggeration, but I definitely expect more West Coast-based events once the USGA starts scheduling the Open for 2016 and beyond.
3:43 p.m.: Bogey for Tiger Woods at No. 4. He's now spotted the field 3 shots today, which is essentially like having them play with handicaps on. OK, Tiger, you're a plus-7.3, so everyone is going to be stroking off you on the card.
(And yes, I just randomly guesstimated at that number.)
3:36 p.m.: Aaron Baddeley makes eagle on 18 to shoot an even-par 71 today. I saw him go to the restroom a few hours ago. I mean, I didn't see him see him, but I saw him walk off the tee box on No. 2 and go under the ropes toward the porta-potties. (That's where I stopped watching.)
Got me to thinking, though: In what other competitive environment do players share the facilities with those who are watching them? Can you imagine walking into the restroom at halftime of an NBA Finals game at the Staples Center and seeing Kobe Bryant? Of course not. But Aaron Baddeley at the U.S. Open? Absolutely.
3:32 p.m.: Let's see if I can blog this quicker than the USGA's great Ken Klavon, who is blogging over on their Web site. He just threw out a question to anyone within shouting distance: Other than Miguel Angel Jimenez, do you know of any other golfers with a ponytail? Among the answers: Alice Cooper, Kenny G, Lorena Ochoa, Natalie Gulbis, Paula Creamer and a bunch of others on the LPGA. I can't think of any others. Alex Cejka might try sometimes; not sure if he can pull it off.
3:28 p.m.: Perhaps feeling envious of playing partner Tiger Woods' earlier double-bogey, Robert Karlsson makes double of his own at No. 3. How often do you see two of the world's best players each make double within a three-hole span? I'll tell you how often. Not very often.
By the way, Woods and Karlsson have played together previously on a grand stage, as Tiger beat the Swede, 3 and 2, in a singles match at the 2006 Ryder Cup.
3:25 p.m.: After Stuart Appleby's bogey on the first, Rocco Mediate makes birdie on the second and we have a new solo leader. Obviously, the key to playing better golf is wearing sweaters. All the time.
3:11 p.m.: Rocco Mediate has a history of back problems, but I found it funny that just after I finished speaking with him after yesterday's round, his trainer/therapist implored him to put a sweater on. Rocco balked, saying he wasn't cold, but he was told his back needed to remain warm and had to wear the sweater.
Not too many other sports in the world where a ripped, chiseled, athletic dude like Tiger Woods and a guy who needs to wear a sweater when the temperature dips below 70 can stand on equal footing midway through an event.
3:05 p.m.: Tiger Woods has now played the opening hole in double-bogey, birdie, double-bogey in the first three rounds. I guess he figured he spotted the field two strokes on Thursday and just about caught up to everyone, so he might as well try it again.
Brutal start, though. He's on pace to shoot 143. I'll take the under.
2:58 p.m.: ESPNEWS interview. Back in a few.
2:55 p.m.: E-mail from Tom, a former La Jolla resident and self-described "Fat Man":
- The nearby Torrey Pines State Park has a narrow trail down to the beach called Fat Man's Misery Trail. Perhaps you could work that into a comparison for an endomorphic golfer who is struggling and in misery of his own.
Nuh-uh. I ain't touching that one. You can draw your own conclusions. Me? No comment.
2:48 p.m.: E-mail from Phil in Syracuse, who points out that the Blog Jinx is working already:
- You mention Phil Mickelson in your intro and he takes a quad. It's your intro, for the love of God!! Have you no shame?
I plead innocence. The evil spirits of the Live Blog are at fault.
2:45 p.m.: Scoring conditions today aren't easy, per se, but they're certainly not the usual U.S. Open third round brutality that we've become accustomed to.
So far today, six players are in the clubhouse with a score under par, led by Brandt Snedeker's 3-under 68. That should mean plenty of movement on the leaderboard.
2:38 p.m.: One thing I didn't see while cruising around the course the past few hours? The sun. That famed June Gloom never really burned off today, leaving cloudy, overcast skies (though no rain is in the forecast). That means anyone trying to watch ball flight in person -- and even on TV -- will have a tough time tracking the ball in the air.
Honestly, I watched action at the par-3 third hole for about an hour from right next to the tee box and couldn't see about two-thirds of the balls land.
2:30 p.m.: Good afternoon from Torrey Pines. After spending the last few hours walking around this course, I'm back for another edition of the Live Blog. Very quickly, among the few things I saw out there:
• I watched Tiger Woods on the practice green for about 20 minutes. He made a 50-foot bomb that drew cheers from the gallery ... and nothing else. Literally. He was missing 3-footers all over the place. What does that mean? Probably nothing at all, but worth remembering throughout the round.
• Phil Mickelson is indeed carrying driver today. He was striping it on the range and in at least one instance -- on No. 7 -- striped it right down the fairway, too.
• Word is that the confrontation between Adam Scott's caddie, Tony Navarro, and a spectator yesterday happened because the fan was heckling Stuart Appleby on the adjacent 18th hole. (Scott's group was on No. 9. And yes, that's the first time the Tiger/Phil/Adam threesome has been referred to as "Scott's group.")
With that, let's get on with the Live Blog. As always, hit me at the e-mail above. Saturday is traditionally the slowest day for the reader input. Prove me wrong.
Jason Sobel covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.