STRICKER GOES SOUTH: The one thing Steve Stricker can always bank on is the very thing that let him down.
Stricker, perhaps the best putter on the PGA Tour, had a share of the lead when he made the turn. But he three-putted Nos. 10 and 11 for back-to-back double bogeys that took him out of contention.
"Putting killed me the whole week,'' he said. "That's the worst I've ever putted, I think. I really had no idea of the speed on some of the holes.''
Though Stricker rebounded with a birdie on the par-5 12th, his day was essentially done. He had bogeys on 13 and 16, and a double on the 17th. He also missed a birdie putt on 18.
"It just all unraveled on the back side,'' he said. "After 10 and 11, I was deflated. I'm trying to hang in there and trying to make a birdie or two coming in.''
It was yet another tough ending for Stricker. Though he's begun to find his form again - he was the tour's comeback player of the year in 2006 after beginning the year without any status - he's still looking for his first victory since 2001.
SUPREME FAN: Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor traded her black robe for golf khakis.
"I'm just here to enjoy it,'' she said. "It's fabulous.''
O'Connor is a golf enthusiast and was recently appointed to the U.S. Golf Association's President's Council. The advisory committee met Saturday in nearby Latrobe, Pa., so she took the opportunity to make her first trip to the U.S. Open.
She also played a round Saturday with Arnold Palmer.
Aside from the sheriff's deputy at her side, there was little to tip anyone off that the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court was in the gallery. She sat just off the walkway onto the first tee, applauding enthusiastically when fellow Stanford alum Tiger Woods arrived. She also walked the course for a bit.
Asked if she'd like to be play Oakmont Country Club, O'Connor simply smiled.
"Wouldn't want to,'' she said. "It's too hard.''
LOW MAN: With nothing to lose, Anthony Kim went low.
Kim shot a 3-under 67 Sunday, the second-lowest round of the week and one of only eight total under par. It raised him 37 spots on the leaderboard, into a tie for 20th.
"I'm almost in dead last, so just fire at some pins and hopefully it works out,'' Kim said of his approach on Sunday. "I hit some quality golf shots and got a couple of putts to fall. It could have been a little better, but I'm not complaining.''
Kim said he missed five putts inside 10 feet.
DRESS CODE: Lee Westwood could not have picked a better outfit for the final round at Oakmont: black pants and a bright yellow shirt, colors that define this sports-crazy area around Pittsburgh.
Not that he did it on purpose.
Westwood noticed throughout the round that fans were applauding his color coordination, only later learning that Pittsburgh is the only city in America where all major professional sports teams wear yellow and black.
"It was an accident,'' he said. "I might not have done that. I'm a Yankees fan.''
BEAR WITH ME: Lions and Tiger and oh, my, that really was a bear. The U.S. Open draws golf fans from the animal kingdom as well as the United Kingdom.
A mother bear and her cub wandered onto No. 7 Sunday morning after play had started, but before any golfers had reached the hole. They roamed around for a few minutes, then jumped back over a fence and disappeared into the woods that line the right side of the par 4.
Bears are a common sight in western Pennsylvania - hunters kill about 1,000 every year - and a few usually rumble through Oakmont Country Club.