Award-winning talking points at Open's third day

Luke Donald (left) and Phil Mickelson during the third round of the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club.

Luke Donald (left) and Phil Mickelson during the third round of the 2013 U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club.

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— It was a bountiful day for quotes at the U.S. Open. Even the golfers who didn’t play well in the third round seemed to be talkative.

So here is the latest installment of major championship awards:

The let’s go award: To the front-running Phil Mickelson, who said, “Let’s go. I can’t wait to get back out playing. I feel really good about my ballstriking. I feel good on the greens, and I think that it’s going to take an under-par round tomorrow.”

In defense of Luke Donald: “Those last two holes are the hardest holes on the course probably,” said Hunter Mahan, who went bogey-bogey, one better than Donald’s bogey-double bogey finish.

Say it ain’t so, Sergio: After Sergio Garcia hit three balls out of bounds off the 15th tee, Ian Poulter was asked if this was the most intimidating golf hole in the world. “We play a lot tougher tee shots than that around the world,” Poulter responded. Ouch!

The military golf award: Rory McIlroy, who shot 75, said plainly, “I guess I was missing my woods right and my irons left.”

The Bob Hope and Bing Crosby impersonation award: Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy have played golf together for four straight days. “First three rounds,” Woods said, “and then we played Wednesday together. So we have seen each other just about every day this week, seems like. We both struggled today. We both didn’t get ourselves back in the tournament. We did what we needed to do at the 1st hole (both birdied) and got off to a nice start. He made a mistake at the 2nd, and I made a few mistakes on the front nine myself.”

How to describe your round: “I played lovely,” said former British Open champion Paul Lawrie, who shot 69. “Quite nicely.”

The run-run-run award: Nicolas Colsaerts said he was glad to slow down Saturday after “running” Friday because he, Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson were placed on the clock. “We got on the clock for a bunch of holes in the middle of the round,,” he said, “and we had to run when we were on the clock.” Unfortunately, after a triple bogey Saturday on the 54th hole, Colsaerts might have felt like running away from Merion.

How rough was the rough? Adam Scott wins this award. “Have you seen a rough as brutal as this?” he was asked. “Yeah, I have,” he shot back. “Most years at the U.S. Open it’s like this. It’s nothing different. But it’s thick and it’s right next to the fairway. I think we got a bit comfortable with that graduated rough the last few years (the rough at Merion is not graduated).”

“I hate long par 3s” award: The candid Henrik Stenson, talking about par 3s, said, “I might not always agree 100 percent on 260-yard par 3s. I think all the good par 3s are the shorter ones. But the USGA sets up the course in a way that someone shoots a couple under or a couple over, and all the tough guys are around par.”

Sounds like a military maneuver award: “You need to pick and choose your moments in which you attack and defend,” said Justin Rose, talking about Merion East.

How many Grand Slams are there? Australian golfer Jason Day was asked a question about Australian David Graham: “Granted, you weren’t even born when he (Graham) won here (1981), but what would it mean for you to win and have another Australian winner?” Day’s response: “Well, it’s a good start to the Aussie Grand Slam.” Hmmm.

The marathon man award: Mathew Goggin, looking back to Friday, when he played 30 holes, cracked, “The only thing harder than 30 holes of U.S. Open golf on one day is 31 holes.”

World’s toughest golf hole award: “I think 18 is probably the hardest hole in golf right now,” said Ian Poulter, who has made three straight bogeys on the hole.

Big-time potential award: “There’s plenty of potential in my game,” said Padraig Harrington, a three-time major champion. “We all love a bit of potential.”

Who are these guys? Jay Don Blake, a member of the Champions Tour who qualified for the U.S. Open, had an admission: “I don’t know any of the guys walking in and out of the locker room. I have seen some of the kids walking in there, even seeing the names, but I didn’t even know some of the names either.”

Big surprise award: Amateur Michael Kim, asked if he was surprised to be in contention, said, “Yeah, I didn’t really expect to be. It’s pretty cool.”

Big surprise award, version 2: Amateur Cheng-Tsung Pan was asked if he expected to be among the leaders. His response: “No. I was just trying to do my job, trying to be a good player. On the 18th, people were going crazy for me, so I definitely feel good about that.”

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