A plethora of players must complete their second-round cards before Saturday’s cuts can be made and the third round can officially begin.
But how will they respond now that they have survived the first two treacherous days at Merion?
Here’s a current look at the leaderboard and a Day-3 prediction for each of these stars.
Updated 2013 U.S. Open Leaderboard
*Chart updates automatically. Click any player for updated scorecards.
Some sports are a game of inches. Golf, though, is a game of even smaller measurements. That’s the story of Phil Mickelson’s tournament to this point. Lefty has been so, so close to breaking this thing wide open but hasn’t been able to open things up to this point.
He avoided dropping from atop the leaderboard by recording his lone birdie of the day on 18. If not for that clutch hole—as the sirens sounded to stop play—he would be even heading into the weekend.
Shooting two over par after an impressive opening-round three under par isn’t a reason for panic, though. If anything, it’s a testament to the challenges Merion is providing.
Expect Mickelson to get a couple breaks on the close ones to help him bounce back by shooting a par or better on Day 3. That should, depending on the rest of the field's performance, keep the current leader in serious contention heading into Sunday.
For having played as poorly—relatively—as he has to the point, Tiger Woods has to like his chances heading into the weekend at Merion. After a less-than-stellar 73 to open things up on Thursday, Woods recovered by grinding out an even par on Friday.
The conditions got worse and Woods held strong to stay in contention. That gritty Friday performance may be just what he needed to get back into a groove before the final stretch this weekend.
Expect Woods to continue to fight for his first major win in five years. However, his elbow injury is a harsh reality and it is definitely something to monitor moving forward. It's hard to imagine, but Woods could be in line for a setback on Saturday because of that injury, his struggling short-game and the wrath of Merion.
Like Woods, Rory McIlroy is also sitting in a very nice position as the weekend begins. McIlroy and Woods are just four strokes behind the leaders.
After a shaky finish to his first round on Friday morning, McIlroy recovered by matching Woods’ 70 thanks to shooting for par on both the front and back nine.
Inconsistency has helped prevent the world’s second-ranked golfer from succeeding this year. After finishing his second round on Friday, McIlroy will have plenty of downtime to think about his approach to improve again on Saturday.
That downtime will ultimately help him maintain the form he found during his marathon effort on Friday. Expect McIlroy to finish a couple of strokes or better ahead of Woods as he begins to distance himself and starts pushing the leaders heading into Sunday's final round.
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