Hossler, 17, has new goal: Win the U.S. Open

Amateur Beau Hossler smiles as he walks up the 18th hole during the third round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament Saturday, June 16, 2012, at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

Amateur Beau Hossler smiles as he walks up the 18th hole during the third round of the U.S. Open Championship golf tournament Saturday, June 16, 2012, at The Olympic Club in San Francisco.

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SAN FRANCISCO - Forget low amateur. Beau Hossler has a new goal at the U.S. Open: Winning it all.

The 17-year-old incoming high-school senior with a mouth full of braces has a legitimate chance of winning on one of America's biggest golf stages.

And on Saturday, he showed he has the mettle to back up his lofty goals.

Hossler followed each of his four bogeys with a birdie, and carded an even-par 70 to post a 3-over 213 total through 54 holes. That's tied for eighth place, four shots off the lead held by Jim Furyk and Graeme McDowell.

But really, winning it all?

"Absolutely. There's not a doubt in my mind. Got to go out there and do everything right mentally and physically, but it's definitely out there for me," said Hossler, ranked No. 3 in the Golfweek/Sagarin Junior Rankings.

Also out there are growing legions of fans, with monster galleries following the feel-good story of the weekend.

"Beau knows!"

"Hook 'em Horns!"

"You got this, kid!"

"Hosssssssss!"

The standing ovation that Hossler received as he made his way up the 18th fairway was Tiger-like, and the University of Texas commit from Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., took it all in, glancing from side to side and acknowledging his newfound fans as caddie Bill Schullenberg flashed the "Hook 'Em Horns" sign with his left hand to a pair of spectators in Longhorns garb.

Hossler has the crowd in the palm of his hand.

"Yeah, it's amazing. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the support from everybody out there. Not only my family and friends from home, but all the people in the Bay Area. It's really special."

His game is pretty special, too. He has hit 20 of 42 fairways - at Olympic, that is solid play - and 33 of 54 greens.

A day after struggling mightily on holes 2 through 6 - he went from 2 under to 3 over during that stretch - Hossler played them at 1 over on Saturday and birdied the short par-4 seventh to erase that stroke.

A two-putt par save on No. 8, another on 9 and then a birdie bomb on No. 14 kept Hossler steady and near the top 10 all day long.

But it was a bogey save on the par-3 13th hole that stood out to Hossler.

"Double bogeys really kill you, and fortunately I was able to salvage a bogey, but it actually felt like a birdie there," said Hossler, who would be the first amateur to finish in the top 10 since 1971.

Hossler credited Schullenberg, his godfather, for keeping things loose on the course.

"We had some good laughs," Hossler said. "That kind of keeps the nerves down a little bit. I feel really comfortable with him on the bag."

Any stories he'd care to share?

"Nope. They're between us."

But the one that Hossler is creating on the course still has a final chapter left, and it could be historic.

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