OAKMONT, Pa. -- There were two rounds to dream and scheme, to fantasize about one last Sunday charge at the U.S. Open, and one more Open victory to break the record he now shares.
But the dream died yesterday in the third round of the 94th Open at Oakmont Country Club, and the scheme ended. Reality replaced fantasy, in the form of a 6-over-par 77 for Jack Nicklaus.
Nicklaus, 54, went from three shots off the lead to 10, from 3-under par for the tournament to 3-over, from in the middle of the hunt to the middle of the pack.
"I never got into a rhythm of what I wanted to do," said Nicklaus. "I got in the fairway early, which was my golf. But I could never get anything going. It was just one of those days."
Nicklaus started out with bogeys on three of the first four holes. After his only birdie, on the par-3 sixth, he bogeyed three of the next four holes. He finished with a bogey at 18.
"Sure I'm disappointed," said Nicklaus. "I had an opportunity to put myself in position to win a national championship. I don't feel I played that much differently [than Friday]. I had a chance and I didn't do it."
Roberts shoots 64
Loren Roberts has a reputation on the PGA Tour for perseverance. He is known as a grinder rather than a natural, a journeyman rather than a star.
But yesterday, Roberts found a small piece of spotlight. He also put himself in contention to win the Open. With a 7-under-par 64 -- one shot off Johnny Miller's course and Open record -- Roberts vaulted onto the leader board at 4-under 209, three shots behind leader Ernie Els.
"I had absolutely no expectations because I've been struggling with my golf swing for the last two weeks," said Roberts.
That ended yesterday, when Roberts made four birdies on the front and four on the back to offset his lone bogey. The highlight to his round was a 60-foot birdie putt on the 228-yard par-3 16th hole.
Not that Roberts' play here has been a total surprise. After holding the distinction of making the most money of any PGA Tour pro without a victory during his first 12 years, Roberts won at Bay Hill.
"It wasn't like I was going broke on tour," said Roberts, who followed up with a strong fifth-place finish at the Masters. "I just felt like I was improving, so why not keep playing? So it wasn't like I was getting depressed over it."
An interesting piece of Open trivia: Larry Nelson's scores of 75-73 were one shot off the cut this year, but they were the same numbers he put up here in 1983, when he won the Open. . . . With a 3-over-par 74, former University of Maryland coach Fred Funk is at 6-over 219.