It’s Phil Mickelson in the lead and Hunter Mahan nipping at his heels. Most of the field Saturday found Merion just as difficult as the first two days. But some, notably Mahan, Charl Schwartzel, Jason Day, Rickie Fowler, Paul Lawrie and Lee Westwood, got the best of Merion.
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SERGIO McAVOY? Sergio Garcia showed off his best Tin Cup moment on the 15th hole in the third round of the U.S. Open.
It was just a month ago that Garcia, with a chance to win his second Players Championship, rinsed a sleeve on the last two holes at TPC Sawgrass.-That included two in the water at the 17th hole, recording a quadruple bogey 7.
This time it wasn’t a pond, but Golf House Road that borders the 411-yard, par-4 hole – which is out-of-bounds all down the left side.
Garcia launched his driver down the left side, the first of three drives that would find the road before he finally found the golf course on his seventh shot.
The 10 that Garcia recorded didn’t seem to bother him when he finished his round.
“Well what does that say about my game that I can make a 10?” Garcia asked. “Forget about the rest.”
Garcia hit two balls out of bounds Thursday. With the three Saturday, the Spaniard has put five on the road at the 15th – and we still have one round to go.
“Funny enough, when I made an 8 on Thursday, I hit a lot of bad shots,” Garcia said. “Funny enough, I only hit one bad shot today and I made 10. My first shot was into the wind and it went out of bounds. My second one, I thought it was even better and it went out of bounds by 5 inches. And then the third one wasn’t great. And after that, I took a chance and the round came out nicely.”
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LOAR ROARS UP FRONT: Edward Loar was just short of fantastic on the front nine Saturday, taking Merion to its knees. Eventually the course took the momentum back and Loar slipped back into the pack, shooting a 3-over 73.
It didn’t take Loar long to make his move, eagling the par-5 second hole, only the second eagle in the third round. Jumping to 2 under for the round, Loar made two pars until the par-4 fifth hole, the most difficult hole in the third round, with a 4.795 scoring average.
Loar again took a significant chunk out of the East Course’s pride, making one of the only two birdies for a short-lived appearance on the leaderboard.
“I was playing really well,” Loar said after his third round. “Obviously that’s the first time I’ve been in that position, but I’ve played good in a lot of tournaments.”
Loar turned in 33, but his back nine included four bogeys and a double bogey to finish with a 6-over 40. His day ended just a little worse than it started.
“I think it was those last five,” Loar said of why he lost control of the round. “I think those last five are the hardest closing holes a man could ever play.”
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COLSAERTS’ ROUND CRUMBLES: Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts came to the 18th hole 2 over and deep in the hunt, just trying to position himself for the final round.
But a wayward drive left led Colsaerts to a triple-bogey 7, and he fell far off the pace with just one round left.
“Obviously a lot tougher now than it could have been if I just made 5,” Colsaerts said of his triple bogey. “We all know 18 is a difficult hole, so you kind of know that you can make 5 on 18. But it’s no big deal, really.”
When Colsaerts arrived at his drive, all he could attempt was to chip out from the trees and the rough, but with a restricted backswing the Belgian hit his 8-iron about a foot. The next shot was better, but still stayed in the rough, and he needed two more shots to find the putting surface and eventually a two-putt 7.
“Well, it didn’t get me like the others,” Colsaerts said of the 18th hole. “I got done proper-like because I just hit it left. And if it’s a yard right, worst I make is par. It’s not the hardest because I made 7 that way.”
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SHORT SHOTS: The third round’s most difficult hole wasn’t in the vaunted closing stretch. It was the par-4 No. 5, which played to a 4.795 average. . . . The easiest hole of the round was the par-3 No. 13, with an average of 2.726. . . . Among leader Phil Mickelson’s stats through three rounds: fairways hit, 30, ranked 15th; greens in regulation, 39, ranked sixth; putts, 92, ranked 29th; driving average, 284.8, ranked 53rd.