Thoughts ahead of Merion’s final round

San Diego's favorite son pitches one of only a...

San Diego’s favorite son pitches one of only a handful of shots taken around the 18th green during Tuesday’s practice round (his only practice round) at the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, CA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, I’ll give the USGA this: they always find a way to make the U.S. Open interesting. Phil Mickelson leads heading into Sunday’s final round, and I thought I’d share some quick thoughts as we head into the finale of the season’s second major championship.
 
Can Mickelson finally do it?
 
Mickelson’s five U.S. Open runner-ups gives him more than anyone in the 113-year history of the event, and as we all know, his crashes have been nothing short of spectacular in at least a few of them. There’s nothing that he wants more professionally than this one, and with a one-shot lead going into Sunday, he’s in the driver’s seat. He’s been preaching patience all week and it’s working for him so far, but we’ll see what happens tomorrow. If someone starts to make a charge, which doesn’t seem out of the question, Mickelson might have to start getting more aggressive. One thing that is a certainty though is that NBC wants nothing more than to see Mickelson lifting the trophy tomorrow night.
 
Steve Stricker continues to amaze
 
There’s really nothing more you can say about Steve Stricker at this point. He decided to severely reduce his schedule this year to spend more time with his family, and it hasn’t made him any worse. In fact, he’s playing better golf than he has in a while. He sits at even par, one shot back of Mickelson and if he can win tomorrow, he’d be the oldest champion in the history of the U.S. Open at age 46.
 
Rounds over 80
 
Five players shot over 80 in Saturday’s third round: Shawn Stefani, Kyle Stanley, Simon Khan, Kevin Sutherland and Robert Karlsson. Rather than discuss what happened, I’ll just let you look at their scorecards.
 
bottom of the board r3Michael Kim puts on a show
 
Jim Simons made a run at the 1971 U.S. Open at Merion as an amateur, holding the 54-hole lead before finishing behind Jack Nicklaus and Lee Trevino. I don’t think Michael Kim will be making a massive push up the board tomorrow, but the amateur from Cal made quite the impression in Saturday’s third round. Despite playing the last three holes at 4-over par, the 19-year old Kim sits at 1-over for the tournament and still has a chance to win this thing on Sunday, something an amateur hasn’t done since Johnny Goodman won the 1933 event at North Shore. Kim goes off tomorrow afternoon in the fifth last group with seasoned veteran Rickie Fowler.
 
What was Hunter Mahan thinking with this outfit?
 
06.15.13 hunter mahan outfit
 
Other Notes

  • On Tiger Woods: Much like everyone, I thought he would make a move on Saturday, but it didn’t happen as he posted a 6-over par 76. The real focus for him now shifts to Muirfield and the Open Championship in a few weeks.
  • On Rory McIlroy: Slightly better than Woods today, but still too far back to threaten the leaders on Sunday. People need to get used to the fact that he won’t be the consistent force that Woods and others have been in the past.
  • Sergio Garcia’s 10 on the 15th, with three tee balls that went left and OB, certainly caused some more laughter and enjoyment from the media scribes on Twitter. Have to think that if other players did that, there wouldn’t have been so much elation.
  • Pretty impressed with Billy Horschel and his ability to keep his cool in the third round. There were a few points when I thought that Mount Horschel was going to erupt, but he kept it together and gave himself a chance to win tomorrow.
  • The three danger guys on the board for Mickelson in my estimation: Justin Rose, Jason Day and Rickie Fowler.
  • Prediction: Mickelson finally gets the U.S. Open title he has been wanting for so long, with a final tournament score of 3-under par 277.
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