by David Shefter USGA
Good morning -- or good afternoon to those on the East Coast or overseas in Europe and beyond -- and welcome to round three of the 2008 U.S. Open. We have another typical San Diego June day with gray, overcast skies that are likely to give way to some sunshine later in the day.
We certainly have an interesting leader board at the midway point of the championship. Will Stuart Appleby finally get that first major? He's not had a great record in Grand Slams with only four top-10s over his long career.
Tiger Woods is the obvious favorite now after that brilliant 5-under 30 over his last nine holes on Friday. The question now is how will the surgically repaired knee hold up over these last 36 holes. One thing is for sure, his putter definitely does not need any surgery. Woods also owns six Buick Invitational victories at Torrey Pines and a Junior World crown from his southern California teenager days.
Davis Love III is a great story. Here's a guy who has fallen to No. 146 in the Official World Rankings and needed to endure 36-hole sectional qualifying to play this week. Michael Campbell and Steve Jones are the only players to win via sectional qualifying in the last 15 years. Love also underwent ankle surgery last September and has battled back, but it cost him a trip to the Masters in April, ending his consecutive-majors played streak at 70. This is his 18th consecutive U.S. Open.
A lot of Europeans will be rooting for Robert Karlsson, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald this weekend. Jimenez of Spain had the round of the championshp on Friday with a 66. He also leads the European Tour Order of Merit, with Karlsson of Sweden a close second. Karlsson has finished no worse than eighth in his last five starts, which includes a T8 at the Masters. Karlsson, Woods and Rocco Mediate, another PGA Tour player who has chronic back problems since the mid-1990s, are all one shot behind Appleby entering the weekend.
Donald has finished second at Torrey Pines before, but that was at the Buick Invitational. This is a major and one would think the former Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup stalwart would be ready to take that next step. We saw Trevor Immelman, the 1998 U.S. Amateur Public Links champion at Torrey Pines, do it at the Masters. Donald begins the third round three strokes off the lead.
Things should separate even more today, hopefully leaving us a clearer picture for Sunday's final round. One thing is definitely for sure, the contestants will have ideal playing conditions.