Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Oakmont Layout Isn't Foreign to Els; He Has a 2-Shot Lead South African Attempts to Make History

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Oakmont Layout Isn't Foreign to Els; He Has a 2-Shot Lead South African Attempts to Make History

Article excerpt

Ernie Els, a South African with a golf game to match his steady temperament, will try Sunday to become only the fourth foreign player since World War II to win the U.S. Open championship.

Els, runner-up in last week's Buick Classic, built a 2-shot lead over Frank Nobilo of New Zealand primarily because of a breathtaking start Saturday.

His 6-under-par 30 on the front nine tied 15 others for the Open record.

Els, 24, faltered a bit on the back side (36) but wasn't complaining. His 5-under 66 moved him to 7-under 206 for three rounds. He opened with rounds of 69 and 71.

"I've gotten to like this Oakmont course very much, because I can use my 1-iron and 3-wood (off the tee) most of the time," Els said. "I feel a lot more in control when I can do this."

Like Els, Nobilo began the day at 2 under and 4 shots behind Scotsman Colin Montgomerie.

But after getting to 7 under through 10 holes, Montgomerie appeared to get too tentative. He was tired. The 97-degree heat affected him as well. In fact, he nearly passed out early in the week in a practice round.

Montgomerie stumbled home with bogeys on two of the last three holes. His 73 dropped him to 3 shots off the lead.

With him at 4-under 209 are Hale Irwin, Tom Watson and Loren Roberts.

Watson and Roberts go into Sunday off solid third-round performances. Watson shot a 68 after Friday's 73. Roberts followed his second-round 69 with the day's best round, a 7-under 64, 1 shot off Johnny Miller's record 63 here in winning the 1973 Open.

Putting was the key for Watson. "They were falling today, where they weren't (Friday)," Watson said. "I put in some long ones, too, one from 45 feet and another from 40 feet for an eagle.

"I didn't play as well from tee to green today, but the (position of the) flagstick makes a big difference."

Roberts, starting the day at 3 over par and 9 shots back, made birdies at Nos. 1, 5, 7, 9, 12, 16 and 18. He didn't make a bogey.

Roberts said he never imagined touring Oakmont in 64 shots. "I lost my swing two weeks ago. Even with my instructor here for three days before the tournament, I couldn't find it. So, I had absolutely no expectation of something like this," he said. …

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