From Brian Keogh at Oakmont
Graeme McDowell was heading for a US Open mauling as a black bear caused commotion and Tiger Woods roared at steamy Oakmont.
Four bogeys in the first ten holes left the Ulsterman, 27, on 15 over par and struggling to claim a top-15 finish and an automatic US Open return.
But stablemate Lee Westwood was breathing a sigh of relief after avoid a grizzly end to his final round.
A black bear cub strayed out the edge of the seventh fairway and English star said feared becoming a topic on a Question of Sport.
Two under par for his round as he passed by the scene, he eventually carded a two over 72 to crash to 18 over.
Westwood said: "I heard the commotion down in the bushes on the right of seven but I had no idea it was a bear. I thought somebody was trying to nick the Lexus car down there.
"Then I saw the people taking one big step back. Can you imagine the question from Sue Barker for the What Happened Next on Question of Sport.
"That would have been interesting. Eaten by a grizzly as I was two under par in the final round of the US Open!"
A Pennsylvania State Trooper planned to down what turned out to be a 150lb bear cub with a stun gun and "run like hell" if he had missed.
While all this was going on, Woods jumped to the top with Stephen Ames and Angel Cabera on four over when leader Aaron Baddeley ran up a triple bogey seven at the first.
But Irish ace McDowell was oblivious to it all as he limped to the turn in four over par 39 and then bogeyed the 10th.
And the Ulsterman knows that he will have to work hard on his short game if he is to challenge for Major honours in the future.
Eight adrift of Baddeley starting the day, McDowell said: "Generally I don’t think my short game is good enough to compete at this level in this type of set-up.
"I really need to get back to the drawing board a little bit, learn how to get it up and down from these tougher lies around the greens and get it close on these fast surfaces.
"I know my long game is good enough to compete at this level - by a long stretch my long game is good enough.
"It’s just shows me to win a Major, which I certainly hope to achieve in my career, I’ve just got to improve my short game."
"I feel like that’s the missing link right now. It’s nothing major. Not a complete rethink.
McDowell hit trouble from the start, coming up 10 feet short with his chip after overshooting the first green.
He then bogeyed the third and fourth after tangling with fairway bunkers and the dropped another shot at the par-four fifth after another poor pitch from the rough.
Twenty yards short of the green in two, he slammed his club into the ground after blasting his recovery 40 feet past the hole.
Westwood said he's prefer to go to the dentist than play Oakmont every day of the week.
But McDowell was heading home for a meeting with psychologist Karl Morris and some hard work on his short game.
McDowell said: "I'm back working with Karl Morris again. After this week you'd need it.
"I’m willing to learn and I feel like I’ve been speaking too negatively about my short game over the past two days because everyone else out there is absolutely tearing their hair out around the greens this week.
“It’s absolutely brutal. There’s no one in complete control of their ball around the greens here, absolutely none.
"As long as I don’t take the negatives to heart too much and beat myself up too much I'll be alright."