SAN FRANCISCO – Ernie Els pitched in from 50 yards for eagle at the 17th hole Saturday and leaped into contention to win his third U.S. Open.
With a 2-under-par 68, Els was just three shots off the lead when he signed his scorecard at The Olympic Club.
“The shot on 17 are what dreams are made of, a shot like that in a U.S. Open,” Els said.
Els, 42, won the 1994 U.S. Open at Oakmont and the ’97 U.S. Open at Congressional. If he wins Sunday, he’ll set a record for longest span between U.S. Open victories at 15 years. Julius Boros (1952 and ’63) and Hale Irwin (1979 and ’90) share the record at 11 years.
Els started his day with three bogeys over the first five holes, but he played the final 12 holes in 5 under.
“I felt the course played probably the fairest of the last couple of days,” Els said. “I felt it was a bit more moisture in there and the flag positions were fine; and if you played proper golf today you could shoot under par.”
Els has won three majors, his last coming a decade ago at the British Open.