Three days of golf are complete at the 2013 US Open, where Phil Mickelson has the lead at one-under heading into the final round of the second major championship on the PGA Tour this season.
Merion Golf Club has proven to be the most difficult golf course of the season so far, with "frustrating" likely a word you'll hear tossed around a lot in the upcoming week with respect to playback of specific player rounds.
While tournament darlings Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott are all out of contention heading into the final round, there's no shortage of stars at the top of the Saturday leaderboard before the Sunday action begins.
Here's an updated look of where we stand after three days of action in Pennsylvania, and a closer look at those in contention that will carry the broadcast waves during the final round—a new US Open champion will rise on Sunday at Merion.
*For a complete look at the 2013 US Open leaderboard before Sunday's final round, click here (via PGATour.com).
Fowler matched Round 2 co-leader Billy Horschel's 67 with one of his own on Saturday, staying away from the dreaded rough and managing to only drop a stroke once on the afternoon.
US Open Golf (USGA) on Twitter had a quote from the young star after his round was completed:
Fowler (+3, 67): "I swung it well, drove it a little better, and stayed out of the rough as much as possible." #usopen— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 15, 2013
After hitting nine bogeys and two double bogeys over the first two days of the tournament, Fowler really found his stroke on Friday. He looked to be in trouble after an early bogey on No. 5, but four birdies over the next 13 holes managed to salvage his round and give him an outside shot at the title on Sunday.
A duplicate round from Saturday might do the trick.
He's done well on holes No. 8 and No. 10 this week, birdieing both in Rounds 1 and 3. He also added birdies on the very short No. 13—a must-birdie on the course this week—and No. 15, which has been an over-par hole (fourth-most difficult according to the USGA) most of the week.
At three-over for the tournament, he's in no position to play it safe in a conventional use of the phrase, but playing it safe has been the calling card of the leaders this week. Consistency and accuracy are the names of the game, and we'll see if the charismatic Fowler can keep his game in check on Sunday.
Keep an eye on his 74 percent mark in the greens in regulation category—it could be a huge factor during the final round.
After an up-and-down Friday, Luke Donald entered Saturday's round as a dark horse of sorts to climb back up the leaderboard, but that's exactly what he did after his 18 holes.
Donald shot a one-over 71 on Saturday, and will enter the final round at Merion just two strokes behind course leader Mickelson. After a strong start, he faltered late with a bogey on No. 17 and a double bogey on the most difficult hole of the course this week (No. 18), but is still one of the odds-on favorites to win the tournament outright.
With three more birdies on Saturday, Donald now sits as a co-leader atop the birdie category at Merion this week, bringing his three-day total to 12.
Donald has been one of the best at finding the fairway this week, hitting over 78 percent of his tee-box shots into a good place on the course. That's been huge this week at the historic East Course, because the rough is more like hitting out of monkey grass rather than a true second cut.
The European star has also been great at the par-three holes this week—he leads those in the field with five birdies through three rounds on the shortest holes on the course.
Heading into the final round, we'll see if Donald can stay with the leaders or his see-saw game will turn into what it did during his two-over second round.
Any finish inside the top five would be Donald's best finish since the 2012 Open Championship, and anything inside the top two would be his best finish ever at a major championship. Donald has seven top-10 finishes at majors in his career.
There hasn't been anything overly impressive about the lefty's most recent tango with a US Open title, but he's avoided the big mistake and played clean golf over three days at a course that has been unforgiving to most of the field.
A rough start (two bogeys in five holes) looked to threaten Phil's USGA title chances once again, but as he does during the strong parts of his time on a golf course, Mickelson responded with some huge gets on the back nine.
He birdied No. 10, No. 11 and No. 17 to get back under par over the final 13 holes of the afternoon, and will sit alone atop the leaderboard heading into the final round of a tournament in which his status as the bridesmaid (never the bride) has been well documented.
ESPN's Stats & Info had this tweet to confirm:
Seven times Mickelson has finished in the top five at a US Open, and five of those he's been the runner-up finisher—a PGA Tour record.
Mickelson trails only Sam Snead in terms of players with the most Tour wins to never win a US Open, and he's hoping to change that stat with a strong run of play on Sunday. Although a bogey on No. 18 soured his final hole of the afternoon, he's been in this position before.
If Mickelson is as consistent in staying under par as he has been over the first three days of the tournament, then there's a good chance we'll be writing the next chapter in the legendary story that is Phil Mickelson.
Other Notable Stars to Watch
Hunter Mahan (E)
Chael Schwartzel (E)
Justin Rose (+1)
Steve Stricker (E)
Jason Day (+2)
Follow Bleacher Report FC Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.
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