-- Phil Mickelson made a triple-bogey 8 on the fourth hole. Vijay Singh had a double bogey on his third hole. Tiger Woods began with bogeys on two of his first three holes. Ernie Els posted double bogeys on two of his first four holes on the back nine.
Welcome to the third round of the 105th U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, where calamity lurks around virtually every pine-treed corner for some of the game's biggest names.
And yet, when this warm Saturday in the Carolina sand hills had ended, at least one member of the game's so-called Fabulous Five -- Retief Goosen -- had managed to withstand this torturous test, just as he did a year ago at Shinnecock Hills. The seemingly unflappable South African will take a three-shot lead into Sunday's final round with a chance to become the sixth man to win at least three Open titles.
Despite his own double bogey at the 13th hole, Goosen came right back with birdies at Nos. 14 and 15, then made an improbable 25-footer from off the green for birdie at the 18th to finish at 1-under 69 and 3-under 207 for 54 holes. Goosen was the only player in the remaining field of 83 to be under par for the tournament and his Saturday round was one of two below par. Goosen has held or shared the 54-hole lead five times in his PGA Tour career, and won four of those events.
"If I can shoot 1- or 2-over [on Sunday], I'll probably win," Goosen said. "It's not easy to make up ground on this golf course. It's easy to lose ground. I felt if I could finish with a couple of birdies, that would be great. I was determined to do that."
Washingtonian Olin Browne, the 46-year-old veteran who shot 59 in a qualifier at Woodmont in Rockville to get into this tournament, was tied for second and only three behind after making a 30-foot birdie putt at the 17th hole and posting a 72 for an even-par 210. Paired with Goosen in the final group, he said he played "horribly" on what he described afterward as "the hardest golf course I've ever seen.
"The place gives you a stomachache," he said. "You just hold on so you can walk down the steps at 18 and not throw up. . . . I'm still here. Some people didn't think I'd still be hanging in there. It was a funny day. My bad shots ended up in good places, and my good shots went in bad places."
He also had high praise for Goosen, who hit only six fairways and 11 greens in regulation but salvaged his score with only 27 putts.
"He's got a perfect demeanor for this style of play," Browne said. "People talk about the Big Five, but that guy may be the most underestimated player in the game. He just goes about his business."
Browne was tied for second with the most improbable contender in the field. Jason Gore, who once played junior golf with Tiger Woods but has knocked around in the sport's minor leagues in recent years, got a standing ovation from the thousands around the 18th hole when he ran in a 15-foot birdie putt for a 72 that also pushed him to even-par 210.
"He's the story of the Open," Browne said of Gore, who will play with Goosen in the final pairing Sunday. "He's a guy no one has ever heard of, and they're digging his play. That's kind of cool."
With an even-par round of 70, David Toms pushed to within five strokes of the lead at 2-over 212. No matter what happens Sunday, Toms will have an eventful next few days. His wife Sonya is due to deliver the couple's second child by cesarean section on Monday and "she's probably ready for me to get home," he said. "I'm ready to get there, too. I just have a little more work to do here."
Woods will have to overcome a six-shot deficit in order to maintain his hopes for a Grand Slam. The Masters champion came in at 72 -- 213 and said he only had two decent chances to make birdie all day, and was one out of two.
"Other than that, I'm just lagging most of the putts," he said. "If you hit it three feet past the hole, it's off the green. That's the nature of the putts. If you get a hair aggressive, it's off the green. The pins are going to be even tougher tomorrow. I'm one good round away from winning the championship. That's the way you have to approach it."
Mickelson was delighted with his 2-over 72, even though he was 11 shots off the lead with no chance of getting into contention Sunday.
"The way I look at it is that Johnny Miller shot 63 in the Open at Oakmont [in 1973], so I'm not going into tomorrow's round feeling as though I don't have a shot," he said. "I just feel like I can shoot a low score out there, even though I'll have to make 30-, 40-footers to do it. I'm not going into the final round defeated. It doesn't mean I'm going to fire at the pins. It just means I'm going to try to fire in the middle of the greens and make a lot of long putts."
Mickelson's round could have unraveled easily after that triple bogey at the 565-yard No. 4, which has been playing as the easiest hole of the week. His tee shot hooked over the fence down the right side. He re-teed, hit his third shot into a fairway bunker and by the time he had hacked his way onto the green 12 feet from the hole for a double bogey, he missed the putt. Mickelson managed to play his next 14 holes in 1 under, with 13 pars and a birdie.
Jacobsen, playing in his first Open since 1996 after winning the U.S. Senior Open last year, may have had the best time of all. At the 175-yard No. 9, he used a 7-iron that took one bounce on the green and dove into the cup for the tournament's only hole-in-one, the 39th ace in Open history. He used that to post a 69 that left him at 4-over 214.
"It was one of those shots that the minute it left the club, I knew it was a fantastic shot," said Jacobsen. "You don't think of making hole-in-ones; you think about hitting it close to the hole, in the vicinity. At first I thought it might have hit and gone over because that's happened a few times this week. I saw all the spectators turn and raise their arms like a touchdown."
Jacobsen said he's had 16 aces over his long career but "this was probably one of the best ones I've ever had because it was in the U.S. Open. I had one at the British Open, the L.A. Open. I won a car at the L.A. Open one year. I jumped in the car. I couldn't find the keys or I would have been out of there."