A sunny Saturday got the U.S. Open back on track, the final round set to be the first unencumbered by delays or by teeing off both nines.
But will that plan hold up?
Play began Sunday under fine conditions when Robert Karlsson teed off at 8:44 a.m. But the clouds that have been expected to roll in now carry a higher chance of rain than thought last night.
Forecasts range from a 40 percent chance of rain by weather.com to 60 percent by wunderground.com – with the most likely time around 4 p.m. by most accounts.
Keep in mind, leader Phil Mickelson isn't set to tee off until 3:20 p.m. with playing partner Hunter Mahan in the day's final group.
With sunset at 8:32 p.m., that leaves little room for error to avoid a Monday finish on a Merion East Course where play has not always been quick amid narrow fairways, thick rough and undulating greens – not to mention five long finishing holes that have played well above par.
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Only two months on a calendar separate the Masters and the U.S. Open, but a galaxy separates the Sundays we encounter at each. Sundays at Augusta National bring birdies and eagles; roars and joy rule the day. Sundays at the U.S. Open identify the last man clinging to a bending branch just before it snaps off the side of a cliff. The U.S. Open’s resounding chorus? A collective groan.
That being the formula, Merion, stage for the 113th U.S. Open, won’t disappoint on Sunday. The little course that could, measuring a smidge under 7,000 yards and moistened by more than 7 inches of precipitation this week, has fooled us all, like some quiet bespectacled grandmother at the far end of the poker table who suddenly turns over four kings.
As the rain fell in buckets early in Open week, four-time major winner Ernie Els and others sheepishly talked about seeing more birdies than usual at a U.S. Open. Players were being asked about 62s and potential winning scores that might climb double-digits under par. After all, the best players on the planet were going to have scoring clubs in their ...
ARDMORE, Pa. Blame a 2-iron for Luke Donald’s car crash on 17 and train wreck on 18.
Holding a one-shot lead in the U.S. Open, Donald bogeyed the par-3 17th, playing 253 yards, then double bogeyed the par-4 18th, which measures a stout 521 yards.
On each hole, Donald flared a 2-iron shot to the right, leaving his ball in a bunker at 17 and in heavy, thick, unassailable rough at 18. He needed three more shots on 17, four more on 18.
Donald explained 17: “I just went at it too hard from the top, and that’s my kind of miss at the moment, to the right.”
What followed was even worse: “The rough has been tough this week, but I’ve never seen a lie like that (on 18). It was unfortunate. I didn’t deserve much better. I shouldn’t have been over there. But if I had a decent lie, I probably would have had a (short) putt for four.”
On 17, Donald needed to carry a ridge at 240 yards. On 18, his carry distance was 229 yards to the middle of the green. Both these yardage figures came from Donald himself ...
ARDMORE, Pa. 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.
• • •
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 ...
ARDMORE, Pa. 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 ...
ARDMORE, Pa. -- LaRue Temple has caddied for the likes Dr. J, Mike Quick, Samuel L. Jackson, Greg Maddux and John Smoltz.
But it took a 19-year-old from California to make him the famous one.
Amateur Michael Kim charged up the leaderboard Saturday at the U.S. Open, at one point climbing to within two shots of the lead after a birdie at No. 15, and rewarded the longtime Merion club caddie with plenty of face time on television and in front of his hometown crowd.
"LaRue! LaRue!" bellowed from the galleries all over the front nine, the crowd giving the north Philadelphia native plenty of love.
"Hey, I am the one playing," Kim remembered thinking with a wide smile on his face.
Kim quickly put the focus back on himself with a birdie on No. 10. And then another on No. 12. And on No. 13. A 10-footer on No. 15 sent him to 3 under on his round and even par for the tournament.
He took a glance at the leaderboard to the right of the green just before that last putt, but not to check his score.
"It was super cool to see my name on the leaderboard ...
ARDMORE, Pa. – If Steve Stricker wins the U.S. Open on Sunday, Merion Golf Club may be washed away in a sea of tears. Baffling Brook, which crosses six of Merion’s holes, will certainly overflow, and it will surpass the deluge of Tropical Storm Andrea.
Former U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange may have put it best: “We’ll all be crying,” he said.
Stricker, 46, has bawled like a baby after most of his 12 PGA Tour victories, but nothing would compare to winning that elusive first major and becoming the oldest winner of the U.S. Open. He is tied for second, one stroke behind 54-hole leader Phil Mickelson after shooting an even-par 70 for a three-round total of 210. What would a major mean to Stricker, a player who shifted into semi-retirement this season, at this stage in his career?
“It would be unbelievable,” Stricker said.
Stricker is one of the Tour’s most popular players, an unassuming Midwesterner, whose father-in-law and longtime golf coach, Dennis Tiziani, likes to joke that Stricker's primary demographic is women over 60.
On a leaderboard packed with talent, Stricker has emerged as the perfect figure to cast in the ...
ARDMORE, Pa. U.S. Open Golf, a fundamentally different game than pros play week-in and week-out on the PGA Tour, has rules, and Phil Mickelson knows them as well as anyone.
Rule 1: You have to hit the fairways.
Rule 2: You must hit the greens,
Rule 3: If you don't follow Rule 2, you've got to miss in a spot where you have a chance to recover.
Rule 4: You have to summon the nerve to hit a 6-foot par putt with enough conviction to make it hold its line, even though missing would result in an 8-foot comebacker for bogey.
For two days, Mickelson played by the rules and was rewarded with a share of the lead at the U.S. Open at Merion. But as the frat boys cheered "Phil! Phil! Phil" and the sun-soaked, beer-loving crowds cheered him Saturday afternoon, Mickelson seemingly developed amnesia.
Mickelson blocked his tee shot on the 556-yard par-5 second into the left rough and scrambled to save par. He dropped his tee shot to the 245-yard par-3 third hole short and into the rough, then hit his pitch shot too far and missed a downhill 6-foot par putt. He ...
ARDMORE, Pa. Unlike the first two days, there were no apparent problems with his left arm. No, the only grimacing Tiger Woods did in the U.S. Open third round was because of his substandard golf shots and his messy scorecard, not because of physical pain.
If Saturday is indeed moving day, then the world’s No. 1 golfer got rid of the furniture and moved out. Remarkably, after making his lone birdie on the opening hole, Woods shot a 6-over-par 76 at Merion. He started the day four shots off the lead and, after seven bogeys, ended it 10 behind rival Phil Mickelson.
Woods, of course, arrived in suburban Philadelphia hungry to win his first major championship in five years. He arrived, too, with high hopes, having won four of his seven PGA Tour stroke-play starts of the year. And he remained optimistic after a 73-70 start, even though he had three-putted twice and missed some other putts inside 10 feet on opening day.
But by Saturday night he was out of it and disappointed.
“It is certainly frustrating because I certainly was feeling like I was playing well this week, and I just didn’t make the putts ...
Phil Mickelson will be paired with Hunter Mahan in the final group at the U.S. Open on Sunday in what should begin the day as the highest-starpower twosome on the course. They'll tee off at 3:20 EDT.
The three groups in front of them could easily carry that moniker, however, were they going off last and atop the leaderboard: Steve Stricker with Charl Schwartzel, Luke Donald with Justin Rose and Jason Day with Billy Horschel.
Further back, many stars are paired with lesser-known partners – such as Tiger Woods at 12:02 with Matt Bettencourt, Rory McIlroy at 12:57 with Morten Orum Madsen or Adam Scott at 11:40 a.m. with Bio Kim.
Defending champ Webb Simpson goes off at 11:18 with Sergio Garcia.
• • •
Here are the tee times and pairings for the final round of the U.S. Open Sunday at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa. (all times local):
8:44 a.m. — Robert Karlsson
8:55 a.m. — Kevin Sutherland, Simon Khan
9:06 a.m. — Kyle Stanley, Shawn Stefani
9:17 a.m. — Peter Hedblom, a-Kevin Phelan
9:28 a.m. — John Peterson, a-Michael Weaver
9:39 a.m. — Martin Kaymer ...
Tiger Woods, on chances to be aggressive:
There's some difficult pins out there. A couple of them are on ridges or are very close, you got to really position your shots well. If you leave yourself in the correct spots, you can be pretty aggressive with some putts and they're not that fast uphill into the grain. So if you put yourself in a correct spot, you can really take a pretty good run at it and be aggressive. But if you put the ball in the wrong spots, yeah, it's tough to make putts.
• • •
Woods, on whether this Open setup is the most penal he's played:
Most definitely. Because of the pins, I think. The long holes are playing really long and short holes obviously are short, but the thing is that the pins out there, what they're giving us out there are really tough.
Look at what they did at 7 and 8 today. Couple short holes, but 7's one step and a half over the top of the ridge. And 8's on the down slope a little bit. And it's a pretty steep slope. So they got some really ...
Tiger Woods birdied his opening hole Saturday at the U.S. Open, but seven bogeys after that virtually ended his championship hopes.
Woods shot 6-over 76 to move to 9 over heading into Sunday's final round at Merion.
Phil Mickelson's title hopes, though, are alive and well, as Lefty leads at 1 under after carding an even-par 70. He'll play in the final group Sunday alongside Hunter Mahan, who is among three players at even par. Steve Stricker and Charl Schwartzel are the other two players who are one shot back.
A trio of players chasing their first major title are 1 over: Justin Rose, Luke Donald and Billy Horschel.
It should be an exciting final round at Merion, one that comes after a thrilling third round.
See how it all unfolded Saturday at Merion!
• • •
Update No. 28: 8:07 p.m. EDT
The par-4 18th continues to wreak havoc. Luke Donald double-bogeys the hole to finish with a 1-over 71. He'll enter Sunday at 1 over. Also, Phil Mickelson bogeyed the hole after leaving a 15-footer for par just short. Mickelson is the only player under par (1 under) through 54 holes after a third-round ...
ARDMORE, Pa. -– For the 73 players who made the cut there are still two more rounds, 36 more grueling holes, of this U.S. Open at Merion Golf Club.
Before we go forward, however, there’s good reason to step back and study some of the statistical data that helps frame this vaunted golf course. There is the quirkiness of having a pair of difficult par 5s right away – at the second and the fourth.
But if you’re thinking that that allows players to roar out of the gates, think again. What points to the difficulty of these U.S. Open set-ups is the challenge players face to just reach these par-5 greens in regulation. Through 36 holes, only 74 percent of the players had reached the second green in regulation, a dismal 61 percent had done so at the fourth.
The par-4 10th? A pushover at a mere 303 yards, right? Think again, because through two rounds, only 76 percent of the field had reached the green in regulation. In other words, nearly one in four has failed to reach the green in two shots over the first two days. Again, that’s a 303-yard hole, folks.
ARDMORE, Pa. -- It took three days, but the cut at the 113th U.S. Open was finally set on Saturday morning at 8-over 148, leaving 73 players to play the final 36 holes at Merion Golf Club.
Due to weather conditions that postponed the first round twice on Thursday, the first round was not completed until Friday and the second round was suspended on Friday due to darkness with 68 players on the course.
With the cut set at top 60 and ties, the cut line on Friday night was at 147 (7 over), but the struggle to stay above the cut line would prove overwhelming and brought the eventual cut one shot deeper.
The notables that missed the cut included former U.S. Open champions Angel Cabrera, Michael Campbell, Jim Furyk, Lucas Glover and Graeme McDowell.
“I had four events in the Philly area and I never really played well in any of those,” Furyk said after a second-round 79. “And then to come back here is a bummer. I played well across the state at Oakmont for a couple of championships, but yeah, I wanted to, obviously, later in my career at 43, there's not going to ...
ARDMORE, Pa. -- In a week that saw a golf course eat some of the world's best golfers alive, it might be surprising to see that four amateurs are among those who will play the final 36 holes at Merion Golf Club.
Until you read their impressive amateur resumes.
Here is a closer look at the four amateurs that will tee it up on the weekend at the U.S. Open:
• • •
Michael Kim, rising junior, Cal
• Position at the U.S. Open: T-13; rounds of 73-70
• Third-round tee time, group: 1:34 p.m. (No. 1); playing with Bo Van Pelt and Geoff Ogilvy
• How he made the U.S. Open: Was co-medalist at Hawks Ridge sectional just outside Atlanta
• Final Golfweek/Sagarin Ranking: No. 1
• Amateur accolades: Winner of 2013 Haskins Award; winner of 2013 Jack Nicklaus Award; 2013 first-team All-American; top-ranked golfer in Golfweek/Sagarin Rankings at end of 2012-13 season; 2013 Golfstat Cup winner; Pac-12 Player of the Year; 2013 Palmer Cup (U.S. team).
• The skinny: Kim came into the U.S. Open on a roller-coaster ride, having gone winless during match play at the NCAA Championship, but then turning around and winning his sectional at ...
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