Els, Dufner take different paths to tie at 5-over

Ernie Els gets a ball thrown to him by his caddie before teeing off on the fourth.
Ernie Els gets a ball thrown to him by his caddie before teeing off on the fourth. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 17, 2013

The grandstand crowd overlooking Merion's 17th hole cheered Ernie Els' name on Sunday afternoon as he readied for his birdie putt at the U.S. Open.

The 43-year-old two-time U.S. Open champion tugged the bill of his white hat, sank the putt - and the crowd roared. He raised his putter to the sky and approached the 18th hole.

The man who entered Sunday 7 strokes off the lead was now inching toward the top of the leader board.

"One more, buddy," a fan hollered from the crowd.

One more proved too much to ask for as Els bogeyed the 18th hole to finish 4 strokes behind champion Justin Rose and tied for fourth place with a 5-over-par 285. He birdied five times on Sunday but it was his pair of bogeys on the front nine that hampered Els.

"The fans were unbelievable," said Els, who won the U.S. Open in 1994 and 1997. "It definitely shouldn't wait another 32 years."

Where Els bogeyed the 18th hole, it was the 15th that plagued Jason Dufner. The 36-year-old American triple-bogeyed the 422-yard par-4 after his tee shot reached Golf House Road out of bounds.

He entered Sunday 9 strokes off the lead and recorded six birdies to finish even with Els at 5 over.

Dufner saw the 15th hole as one of his last realistic birdie chances, causing him to push the ball a bit to the left in hopes of avoiding the wind that seemed destined to carry him into the bunkers that guard the right side of the fairway.

He avoided the wind, but failed to keep his ball on the narrow fairway. Out of bounds is just a pace to the left, which Dufner said was " a little unnerving."

"As I learned today, you can definitely pay the price for pushing it," Dufner said.

Contact Matt Breen at mbreen@philly.com.

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