Great Scots go against the grain

US Open: Montgomerie mounts a strong challenge and Torrance shares the honours as Lehman equals course record
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The Independent Online
The key to succeeding in a major is to avoid disaster at all costs. While all around were experiencing mishaps at the same rate as the Scotland football and rugby teams, Colin Montgomerie and Sam Torrance gave those north of the border something of which to be proud. Both finished at one over par on an Oakland Hills course where the tournament record of one under par, set by Andy North, is far from certain to be broken today.

North was the only man under par in the US Open 11 years ago and going into today's final round of the 96th championship, only Tom Lehman, after a remarkable course record-equalling 65, and Steve Jones are in the red figures. Both are 37-year-old veterans of the US tour with Lehman, who was runner-up to Jose Maria Olazabal in the 1994 US Masters, at two under and Jones, after a 69, at one under.

But the names of those brought to their knees by the monster of Oakland Hills were some of the biggest. Payne Stewart came home in 41, including a triple bogey after going into the water at the 16th, for a 76 that left him six shots back. Ernie Els, who briefly took over from Stewart as leader, found the rocks at 16 for a double bogey and a 72 that leaves him on one over. Greg Norman returned a 74 to be three over.

Montgomerie, who has not won a major and who is playing under the self- imposed pressure of repeatedly stating that the US Open is his best chance of doing so, managed four birdies in his 69, but a three-putt at the ninth after hitting a three-iron to 10 feet, like a similar slip at the 17th on Friday, disappointed the European No1 most. "It was a crazy error," he said. "I hit the first putt too hard and the second not hard enough. If you take the one at 17 on Friday, you could say that's four shots right there."

Having birdied the 17th yesterday with a four-iron to four feet, to get to level par, Montgomerie drove into a fairway bunker at the last hole and eventually missed from eight feet. But in returning to the clubhouse in level par on the back nine, he avoided any major disaster.

"My 70, 72 and 69 are the worst scores I could have shot," Montgomerie said. "I am playing very well. I just need to hole a few putts. With a little luck, I can still win." The Scot, who came from four behind to get into a play-off at the USPGA last August, had noted before he went out that at halfway he was leading the greens in regulation statistics and was second in fairways hit. Yesterday, he hit 12 of 14 fairways and made 14 of 18 greens in regulation. He had 31 putts to add to the 64 he took over the first two days, which was 10 more than the 36-hole leader, Stewart.

Torrance, who started the day as the leading European at level par, hit a superb shot from a fairway bunker at the second to set up an eagle but had to play the last six holes in one under for a 71. "I stuck in there," said the newly honoured MBE. "If you can just get through those last six holes then you can stay in position. It was a big day today, and it'll be a big day tomorrow. A Tom Lehman would be nice."

Nick Faldo's disaster saved itself until the 18th. He seeks a first US Open to add to his tally of three Masters and three Opens, and despite doubling his tally of birdies from two to four, he double-bogeyed the last to fall to five over. "That's done me in," he admitted.

A six-iron to three feet for a birdie at the 14th was the high point of Faldo's day. The low point came when he put a four-iron into the front right bunker at the 18th. The ball was plugged and he could only find a patch of tangly grass in front of the green. From there he took a chip and two putts. "I need to give myself a dozen birdie chances tomorrow," Faldo said, "but I haven't played well enough up to now. All I can manage is one birdie in a row."

Lehman, who started at three over, went to the turn in 32 and after collecting his fifth birdie of the day at the 11th, holed from 30 feet at the 16th to equal the mark set in 1985. "It is almost beyond your wildest dreams to shoot 65 at Oakland Hills," Lehman said. "I hit a lot of really good shots, and made some great saves which kept my momentum going." But Montgomerie, in confident mood, warned: "He can't be playing any better than me." We will find out today.

Scores from Oakland Hills

Third-round scores

US unless stated

208

T Lehman 71 72 65

209

S Jones 74 66 69

210

J Morse 68 74 68

F Nobilo (NZ) 69 71 70

D Love 71 69 70

211

C Montgomerie (GB) 70 72 69

J Furyk 72 69 70

S Torrance (GB) 71 69 71

W Austin 67 72 72

E Els (SA) 72 67 72

212

S Cink 69 73 70

J Cook 70 70 71

TWatson 70 71 71

K Green 73 67 72

213

M O'Meara 72 73 68

M Brooks 76 68 69

D Forsman 72 71 70

V Singh (Fiji) 71 72 70

D Berganio 69 72 72

G Norman (Aus) 73 66 74

B Andrade 72 69 72

214

J Leonard 71 76 67

S Murphy 71 75 68

L Roberts 72 73 69

L Janzen 68 75 71

J Daly 72 69 73

P Stewart 67 71 76

215

B Tway 72 75 68

J Nicklaus 72 74 69

P Jacobsen 71 74 70

K Gibson 71 73 71

S Hoch 73 71 71

N Faldo (GB) 72 71 72

K Triplett 70 73 72

C Pavin 73-70-72

N Lancaster 74 67 74

216

M Bradley 71 74 71

A Forsbrand (Swe) 74 71 71

T Tolles 77 68 71

A Cejka (Ger) 74 70 72

M Campbell (NZ) 70 73 73

H Irwin 72 71 73

J Gallagher 71 72 73

S Elkington (Aus) 72 70 74

S Gotsche 72 70 74

W Riley (Aus) 73 69 74

217

C Byrum 70 76 71

D Harrington 75 71 71

P Jordan 71 74 72

B Ogle (Aus) 70 75 72

D Gilford (GB) 74 69 74

B Mayfair 72 71 74

S Simpson 70 71 76

218

P O'Malley (Aus) 75 73 70

*R Leen 77 71 70

C Strange 74 73 71

T Purtzer 76 71 71

B Ford 69 77 72

D Ogrin 72 74 72

W Grady (Aus) 71 75 72

JL Lewis 76 69 73

J Gullion 73 72 73

C Rocca (It) 71 74 73

M Swartz 72 72 74

J Sluman 70 74 74

I Woosnam (GB) 72 72 74

W Murchison 76 68 74

B Bryant 73 71 74

B Faxon 70 72 76

M Ozaki (Japan) 69 72 77

219

M Christie 72 75 72

T Kite 76 71 72

F Lickliter II 75 71 73

L Parsons (Aus) 75 71 73

J Haas 73 72 74

S McCarron 72 72 75

K Perry 73 71 75

O Browne 73 70 76

J O'Keefe 72 71-76

220

B Porter 73 75 72

P Mickelson 76 71 73

S Lowery 73 74 73

T Pernice 74 72 74

B Gilder 73 72 75

S Stricker 74 71 75

P Walton (Irl) 69 73 78

221

S Kendall 77 71 73

*T Kuehne 79 69 73

J Sanchez 71 76 74

W Westner (SA) 72 75 74

C Parry (Aus) 70 76 75

K Jones 71 74 76

J Huston 73 72 76

P Azinger 69-74-78

222

A Morse 76 72 74

O Uresti 76 72 74

D Duval 75 72 75

R Yokota 79 67 76

B McCallister 71 75 76

*T Woods 76 69 77

G Trivisonno 69 75 78

223

M Wiebe 74 74 75

224

A Rodriguez 71 77 76

J Thorpe 75 71 78

225

M Burke Jnr 78 70 77

J Maggert 75 69 81

*S Scott 71 73 81

227

S Kelly 73 75 79

*amateur

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