Moving day at the 113th US Open looked almost like a stockcar race at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday afternoon. After multiple lead changes during the afternoon at Merion Golf Course in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, it ended almost like it started with Phil Mickelson in the lead. The only difference, is Phil will be paired on Sunday with Hunter Mahan instead of Billy Horschel, and Luke Donald.
Phil Mickelson holds the record for five runner-up finishes in the US Open, but has a chance on Sunday to break the old spell that started in 1999 when Payne Stewart made a 15 foot par putt to break his heart at Pinehurst. Mickelson closed his day with a bogey at the 18th hole, and shot even par on the day.
Mickelson struggled through the front nine, but made pars and only two bogeys to stay within striking distance. He made birdies at 10 and 11 to keep pace, and made a 15 foot birdie at the very difficult par three 17th. He hit his patented two wood shot off the 18th tee, but because he was so far back in the fairway, had to hit it again on the second shot. His approach shot went through the green and got tangled in the rough behind the green.
His normally spot on wedge play let him down, and he carded a bogey five on the treacherous closing hole made famous by Ben Hogan’s one-iron shot during the 1950 US Open.
Most of the contenders had similar fates at 18, and some who had shared the lead at one time during the day went bogey bogey on the last two holes to fall behind. Luke Donald, who looked invincible, went bogey, double bogey to drop to one over par and into a tie with Billy Horschel, and Justin Rose.
Justin Rose, Steve Stricker, and Charl Schwartzel all led at one time during the day, and all went bogey, bogey at 17 and 18 to fall out of the lead.
Billy Horschel, who began the day tied with Mickelson was the only one in the threesome to make par at 18. The winner at New Orleans earlier in the year, shot one over on the day to end up in a tie for fifth place.
Tiger Woods, and Rory McIlroy both shot 76, and 75 respectfully, and Rory is at +8 over par tied for 25th place, and Tiger finished at +9 tied for 31st. Both are too far off the lead to play any part in Sunday’s drama. Tiger will have to wait for the British Open next month for another chance to get his 15th major.
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