Jacobsen's hole in one: Peter Jacobsen knew his shot was good. Then he worried that it might have rolled over the green, like so many other at Pinehurst No. 2. Not this one. Jacobsen's 7-iron was pure, and the ball plopped right into the hole after a couple of bounces for a hole in one, the first ace of the championship. More importantly, it was part of a 1-under 69 that put the 51-year-old member of the Champions Tour in a tie for 11th. Only leader Retief Goosen matched Jacobsen's score. "If I said I thought I could win, I'd be lying," Jacobsen said. "I thought I could make the cut and play well. I've always been a fairly accurate driver, and always been a fairly good iron player. The U.S. Open is right down my alley." He hasn't been in an Open since 1996, when he tied for 23rd at Oakland Hills behind winner Steve Jones, so after a victory in the U.S. Senior Open a year ago, Jacobsen was quick to take advantage of the USGA exemption to play at the course where good friend Payne Stewart won in 1999. Jacobsen has other fond memories of the Open, including a 67 in the final round in 1984 while paired with Tom Watson. This is the first time Jacobsen played on the weekend at a major since the 1997 PGA Championship, where he finished tied for 67th.
Easy does it: Ernie Els is badly in need of some time off, and he might be willing to miss two of his favorite golf courses to recharge his batteries. After twice turning potential birdies into double bogeys and shooting a 72 on Saturday, Els said he would skip the Barclays Classic next week so he could go home to England. The only other tournament he had planned to play between now and British Open is the Scottish Open at Loch Lomond, and he might miss that, too. "I probably need a good break, come back with a bit of fire," Els said. Els said if he takes three weeks away from tournament golf, he might play some links to get ready for St. Andrews. As for his round, he managed to get to 2-under despite hitting the ball in the rough. He was primed to make birdies on the par-5 10th and par-4 13th with huge drives down the fairway, but wound up with double bogeys. Nothing was more frustrating than 378-yard 13th, where his drive landed some 30 yards from the green. His sand wedge rolled back down the slope, then a low pitch shot rolled back to his feet. He got the next one to stay on the green about 10 feet away and two-putted for 6.
Phil's pain: Phil Mickelson nearly got the 18 pars he wanted in the third round, finishing with 16. Unfortunately, one of the others was a triple bogey. He lost his drive out of bounds on the fourth hole -- a reachable par-5 that is the easiest hole this week at Pinehurst -- and reloaded on the tee. The rest of the hole wasn't much better and he ended up with an 8. A birdie at the difficult 16th left him with a 72 and an 8-over total of 218. "I played great," Mickelson said. "I drove it the best I have in a long time, and that one hole, it's just one tough hole. The thing is you just can't make any birdies out here or try to make birdies."
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