US Open: Runners and riders

Going into the final round of the US Open, Paul Mahoney looks at the men in contention at Pebble Beach

Runners and riders

1. Brown Trousers: Dustin Johnson (-6)

Pros: Hits 4-irons 275 yards. That's longer than his Ryder Cup captain Corey Pavin hits drivers. Is heralded to be the Next Big Thing in the US. He's America's Rory McIlroy. Has won two AT&T Pro-ams at Pebble Beach. Has interesting facial hair.

Cons: Has weird facial hair. Never been out in front at a Major before. Has Tiger, Phil and Ernie breathing down his neck. Might need oxygen mask on back nine.

2. Grandad's Cardigan: Graeme McDowell (-3)

Pros: Full of confidence after victory at Wales Open two weeks ago. A fighter who never backs down. One of the best putters on tour when he gets on a roll. Can shoot low. Dry, fast running course will make him feel like he's back at Portrush Cons: Pink Elvis collars are going to make him look very silly if he gets all shook up on the front-nine. Sometimes beats himself up when things aren't going his way. He's a flair player and sometimes finds it tough to grind it out.

3. The Prodigal Son: Tiger Woods (-1)

Pros: His back-nine 31 in round three told his rivals that the fist pump and the Tiger roar are back. His name on the leaderboard is enough to send shivers down their spines. Fourteen Major victories says he knows how to close the deal and get the job done, as they say in these parts.

Cons: His mind just has to be scrambled with the turmoil in his private life. Still liable to start missing fairways and swearing at the bumpy green. Never won a Major before coming from behind.

4. The Big Queasy: Ernie Els (par)

Pros: Won twice in the US already this year and knows what it takes to win a US Open having won it in 1994 and 1997. Seems to have cured his Tiger-it is. Revenge for coming second to Tiger here in 2000, 15 shots behind, would be sweet.

Cons: Might see Tiger ahead of him and all the old mental scars might start to bleed again. Playing with fan favourite Phil Mickelson might be a negative distraction.

5. Pin The Tail on the Donkey: Gregory Havret (par)

Pros: Has won three tournaments in Europe including outplaying Phil Mickelson in a play-off to win the 2007 Scottish Open. Has nothing to lose in his first US Open. Could sneak in under the radar like Michael Campbell in 2005.

Cons: He is French, which means he is mad. Proof: he once played football in a bullring. With a bull still in it. More likely to be Jean Van de Velde (1999 Open choker, Carnoustie) than Arnaud Massey (1907 Open champion, Hoylake)

6. The Bridesmaid: Phil Mickelson (+1)

Pros: As he showed on Friday with a 66, 'Lefty' is capable of genius. The reigning Masters champion is desperate to win his national championship. Five times he's been runner-up. If he keeps knocking at the door, he knows it will soon be his US Open.

Cons: See above. Five times runner-up. Maybe he wants it TOO badly. His genius is flawed. See Saturday's 73. Might need to grind; can't stop himself from showboating.
Where next?
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