-- Tim Clark stood over a short birdie putt at the 18th with a record well within his grasp. No player had shot a competitive round of 65 at Shinnecock Hills, but here was the little-known PGA Tour player a few feet from carding a score that also would get him to 2 under for the tournament and into contention come the final round of the U.S. Open.
Then came groans from the gallery surrounding the green after Clark failed to convert.
"I just hit a bad putt," he said. "It's a tough way to finish, but I guess I have to put that behind me and go out tomorrow."
Clark will begin the final round four shots behind leader Retief Goosen. Clark joins Goosen and Ernie Els as three South Africans in the top six after the third round.
Clark's most memorable hole of the day came at No. 5, where he reached the 537-yard par 5 in three, then made the putt for eagle. He later made birdie and No. 9 and got to 4 under for the day after consecutive birdies at 15 and 16.
"Like I said, I've been playing so well, I don't feel I'm going to suddenly lose my swing overnight," said Clark, whose best finish on the PGA Tour was third at last year's PGA Championship. "You never know. Maybe an even round tomorrow will be good enough. The course is going to toughen up. The wind is going to get up. I'm hoping for that. I was hoping for a bit of wind today too. If the wind blows tomorrow, even a couple under will be right there."
Once a contender to become a formidable rival to Tiger Woods, Spain's Sergio Garcia hardly has been in the picture recently at major championships. On Saturday, Garcia withstood a balky putter and clawed to a 1-over 71 that left him six shots off the lead.
"It was a hard day. It was tough all day," said Garcia, who began at even par, made bogey to start the back nine to go to 4 over, then steadied himself with three birdies over the final seven holes. "From the sixth hole on, when the wind changed and started blowing harder and harder, I was really pleased being 4 over through 10 and managed to get it back to 1. I think that was a good effort, and I feel like I have a chance tomorrow."
Garcia has been in the process of drastically reshaping his swing. Notorious during his first few years on tour for the many waggles of his club before his takeaway, Garcia these days is playing much more briskly.
"You know, playing well, it was hard," Garcia said. "Yeah, I've had harder days where I didn't play my best, and then you really struggle. At least I feel like I could get it back because I was hitting the ball nicely. But it was definitely hard. I mean, it was definitely one of the best 71s I've ever shot."
Tiger Woods was not happy to hear that his former swing coach Butch Harmon had said on a recent television broadcast that "if Tiger thinks he's close [to fixing his game], he's in denial."
"I don't know why he would say anything like that," Woods said Saturday. "Obviously, he doesn't really know what I'm working on, and he's never asked me and I've never talked to him about it. I don't understand why he would ever say anything like that, especially when we've been as close as we are. We've resolved everything, I thought. It doesn't do himself or anyone any good to do that.
"Friends say that face-to-face. That's what we used to do, and I think that's the way it should have been handled. Maybe he's just trying to be more controversial on TV, saying things."
Woods also was asked Saturday about his caddie, Steve Williams, kicking a camera out of the hands of New York Daily News photographer John Roca at the start of Friday's second round.
"I didn't find out about it until I got home and Stevie told me," Woods said. "I think it built up over the entire week of dealing with a lot of different distractions that we normally don't have to face at a regular tournament."