Golf

Field chasing Mickelson, Horschel

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ARDMORE, Pa. (AP)

Any remaining doubts that the compact Merion Golf Club would pose a challenge for the world's top golfers surely were erased once the third round of the US Open began on Saturday.

US Open, Tiger Woods

OPEN SEASON

Tiger Woods and the rest of the field battled the elements, as well as each other. We've got the best US Open shots.

Of the first 39 holes played, there was only one birdie - by Masters champion Adam Scott at the par-3 11th. Leaders Phil Mickelson and Billy Horschel would tee off later, the only players in the field with a score under par on a tough and tight little course that's finally drying out from a week of rain.

The second round wrapped up earlier in the day, and no one could catch Mickelson or Horschel, who both stood at 1-under 139 at the halfway point of the championship. Justin Rose, Steve Stricker and Luke Donald were one stroke behind the leaders.

Tiger Woods was tied for 13th at 3 over, still in the hunt as long as he can deal with the pain from a troublesome left elbow - as well as Merion's wicked rough and flummoxing greens that more than compensate for shorter-than-usual yardage for a US Open.

''It's hard with the wind and the pin locations,'' Woods said after his second-round 70. ''They're really tough. ... We didn't think they were going to be as severe as they are.''

LEADERBOARD

Get caught up with all the action with our US Open leaderboard.

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 US 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.''

The top of the leaderboard was a study in contrast. Mickelson has won four majors. Horschel has won once on the US PGA Tour, and that was less than two months ago.

Tagged: Phil Mickelson, Billy Horschel

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