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Round 3 Reports
Retief Goosen forges three shot advantage
Gore & Browne hold on to winning chances
Top names fail to make a challenge
Peter Jacobsen aces way up leaderboard
Phil Mickelson still optimistic

Retief Goosen forges three shot advantage

Twice champion Retief Goosen held his nerve in punishing conditions to take a three-shot lead after the U.S. Open third round on Saturday.

The world number five recovered from a double-bogey six at the 13th with three birdies in the last five holes to card a one-under-par 69 at Pinehurst's formidable No. 2 course.

Known for his unflappable temperament and ability to grind out pars on tough layouts, the 36-year-old South African finished on three-under 207, the only player in the field of 82 to end the day in red figures.

Winner at Shinnecock Hills last year, Goosen put himself on the brink of a third career major with successive birdies on 14 and 15 before sinking a 25-foot putt from off the green at the last.

"On the back nine, I put a lot of pressure on my game but I had a really good finish to put me back in this tournament," he said after a day of tough pin positions and near-impossible approach shots into Pinehurst's notorious dome-shaped greens.

"I felt pretty relaxed on the golf course today and I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

"But you can lose three shots very quickly around here," added Goosen, who is bidding to become the sixth player in the tournament's history to win the title at least three times.

Tied for second at level-par 210 were Goosen's playing partner Olin Browne and the unheralded Jason Gore, both carding 72s.

Americans Browne and Gore, who needed to pre-qualify, had been joint leaders with Goosen at the start of the day.

New Zealand's Michael Campbell, another qualifier, registered a 71 to share fourth place at one-over 211 with Australia's Mark Hensby (72).

David Toms, the 2001 U.S. PGA champion, was a further shot back after a 70 while U.S. Masters champion Tiger Woods recorded a 72 to finish in a four-way tie for seventh at three over.

"I was fighting for my swing out there for the first 10 or 11 holes, but I birdied 15 and 17 coming in which kind of saved the day," said Browne, who is ranked 300th in the world.

Gore, the world number 818, was delighted to salvage his round with an 18-foot birdie putt at the last.

"There's just no margin for error on this golf course but making that putt on 18 was pretty nice," said the 31-year-old Californian, who briefly held the lead at one under before surrendering it with a double-bogey six at the 14th.

"Whatever happens tomorrow, I'll learn something."

Goosen forged two shots ahead when he holed a 30-foot birdie putt at the par-four 11th but he bogeyed 12 after pushing his tee shot into the right rough and failing to reach the green in two.

He then found himself in even worse trouble at the 13th where he missed the humpbacked green with his approach and also with his third shot before lipping out with his bogey putt.

But the ice-cool Goosen hit back, sinking a 30-foot birdie putt on 14 and a 12-footer on 15 before signing off in style with his long-range effort from off the green at the last.

World number one Woods, who gathered three bogeys and a solitary birdie at the par-four 11th, said: "It's a real grind out there.

"You have to hit quality shots. I hit the ball really well and had only two good looks at birdies.

"But I'm one good round away from winning this championship, that's the way you have to approach it."

Veteran American Peter Jacobsen, boosted by a hole-in-one, fired a 69 to match Goosen with the only sub-par round of the day.

The 51-year-old, who achieved the first ace of the tournament using a seven-iron at the par-three ninth, finished in a tie for 11th at four-over 214.

Phil Mickelson, winner of last year's U.S. Masters, triple-bogeyed the par-five eighth after hitting his drive out-of-bounds on his way to a 72 and a total of 218.

"It was a very tough day with the pins so close to the edges," said Mickelson.

"But I'm not going into the final round defeated. I feel I can shoot a low score out there and I'm going to give it everything I can."


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