ARDMORE, Pa. (AP) — John Senden and Justin Rose replaced Phil Mickelson and Billy Horschel atop the leaderboard Saturday early in the third round at the U.S. Open, becoming the only players under par on the tough and tight little Merion Golf Club course.
Senden, who won the Australian Open in his homeland seven years ago, moved from 1 over to 1 under in a hurry by opening with a pair of birdies on a course where any putt over 15 feet was proving to be an adventure.
Rose, whose only top 10 finish at the U.S. Open came 10 years ago, joined Senden in first place with a birdie putt at No. 5.
Mickelson and Horschel shared the second-round lead at 1 under. Mickelson opened his round with a pair of tap-in pars, while Horschel saved par at No. 2 by making a putt from the fringe on a hole that ended a remarkable streak of accuracy. Horschel didn't miss a green in regulation during the second round, but his trouble at the 2nd included a hook that went so far left that he had to stand a few feet behind a water cooler to make his next shot.
But neither could get a handle on the 245-yard par-3 third, Horschel finding the bunker and Mickelson the greenside rough. Both 2-putted for bogey to fall back to even par.
Then there was a lefty making a charge at Lefty. Edward Loar eagled the par-3 2nd and birdied No. 5 to move to 1 over.
But he was the exception, not the rule, on a day when sunshine helped dry the course after a week of rain, making the sloping greens faster and tougher to read.
Tiger Woods was all over the place, making an arcing 15-footer for birder at No. 1 but missing an 8-footer for par at No. 3. Another bogey at No. 5 put him at 4 over. He needed to get out of trouble with several tee shots that landed in the rough, although in the early holes he showed no obvious signs of the left elbow problem that's been ailing him this week.
Of the first 39 holes played in the round, there was only one birdie — by Masters champion Adam Scott at the par-4 11th.
No one could catch Mickelson or Horschel when the second round wrapped up earlier in the day. Rose, Steve Stricker and Luke Donald were one stroke behind the leaders at the midway point.
The average score through two rounds on the par-70 course was 74.7. The cut line was 8 over, saving both defending champion Webb Simpson (5 over) and Scott (7 over) and keeping alive, albeit faintly, hopes for a Grand Slam. The third round was played in threesomes teeing off at Nos. 1 and 11 in a tournament that fell behind schedule when storms moved through the Philadelphia area on Thursday.
Ian Poulter had a chance to join the leaders as he finished his second round, but he had a bad lie in a bunker at No. 16 and his approach rolled off the back edge of the green at the 18th. The two bogeys sank him from even par to 2 over after his round of 71.
"I'm three off the lead in the U.S. Open," Poulter said. "And that's the difference of one hole. You can make birdie and someone can make double. I'm right in position and right there where I want to be. It's going to be a fun weekend."
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