US Open Field 2014: Golfers to Watch on Day 3
Let's be real for just a minute.
Based on what Martin Kaymer has managed to do in the first 36 holes of the U.S. Open, the rest of the field could very well be competing to win the B Flight.
As good as he was in winning the Players Championship, he looks even better through 36 holes this week.
That means he's going to be very difficult to catch on the weekend if he continues to play at this level.
So who are the guys to watch in the third round? Which guys will, having survived the pressure of making the cut, put a run together and try to at least close the gap a bit?
Can a player like Brandt Snedeker build on the bit of momentum he's established?
How about Brendon Todd, who has finished in the top 10 in each of his last three starts? How will he handle Saturday under major pressure?
Here's a group of players to watch as the U.S. Open heads into the weekend.
The best part of Todd's game is his short game, and he used that to his advantage in the first two rounds.
He got up and down several times coming down the stretch, made some nice bunker saves and seemed to be in complete control.
A good short game doesn't just go away from one round to another, and if Todd has his again in the third round, don't be surprised if he makes a move Saturday.
Is the No. 1 player in the world going to be a non-factor again in the U.S. Open?
In his first round, Scott made four bogeys and a birdie. In the second, it was four birdies and a bogey.
His best finish in 12 U.S. Open appearances is a T-15 in 2012, but he's only made six cuts in those 12 starts.
Is the 67 an indication he might be headed in the right direction and finally has figured out how to play in a U.S. Open?
That's an unanswerable question at this point, but it certainly makes him someone to watch on what promises to be roller-coaster ride for those chasing Martin Kaymer.
The pre-tournament favorite is one-under par through 36 holes, thanks to rounds of 71 and 68.
That's nine shots behind leader Martin Kaymer.
McIlroy's round puts him in the middle of the pack, and maybe that's why he wasn't more of a strong favorite when the odds came out.
But his game is so mercurial, it's hard to imagine what he might do on Saturday.
McIlroy has been through the pressure of winning majors, the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA Championship.
He could be the one leading the charge up the scoreboard in the third round or could make enough mistakes to start sliding down that same scoreboard.
When Keegan Bradley won the Byron Nelson Championship and the PGA Championship four months apart in 2011, it was assumed we were in the beginning stages of a great career.
But believe it or not, Bradley has won just once more since then and has become something of a secondary figure in major championship discussions. He's had only two top-five finishes since in a major, the other being a T-3 in the PGA in 2012.
And that leads to the question of what is the significance of the pair of 69s he posted in the first two rounds of the U.S. Open?
Has his game come together at a really good time, or were they a pair of teasers?
Watch closely in Round 3.
Phil Mickelson will go down in U.S. Open history as something of a tragic figure.
He's finished second in the nation's championship six times and came to Pinehurst this week harboring hopes of winning and completing the Career Grand Slam.
Chances are good that after rounds of 70 and 73, Mickelson won't be involved in any sort of slam and won't have to worry about that annoying second-place streak.
He was once again betrayed by his putter after hitting 13 greens in regulation. He three-putted five times and needed 34 putts to shoot 73 on Friday.
This has the feel of something that might not turn out very well for Mickelson in the third round.
That's why it will be must-watch TV.
Brandt Snedeker hasn't putted this badly since the 2009 season if you go by the strokes-gained putting statistic.
Snedeker had annually been one of the best putters in the game since 2009. The came the recurrence of a rib issue that derailed him from a great start to his 2013.
It's been a struggle for him since, and his strokes-gained putting average is a paltry .209. But that average may begin rising if he continues to putt as he did in the first two rounds of the U.S. Open.
He's put together rounds of 69 and 68 and is tied for third going into Round 3. He's made 10 birdies, but he also has a double bogey in each round.
If he continues to putt well and Kaymer stumbles a bit, things could get very interesting.
Dustin Johnson is a guy who knows what it takes to contend in a major championship as well as what it takes to blow an opportunity to win one.
He blew a U.S. Open lead at Pebble Beach in 2010 and was a victim of the bunker/no bunker confusion at Whistling Straits a few months later in the PGA Championship.
But there he is again, shooting back-to-back 69s on Pinehurst No. 2.
There's an immense amount of talent in the tall, athletic body belonging to Dustin Johnson. It's been his decision-making that has been called into question on occasion.
In today's round, he could make an exciting charge up the leaderboard or make a mental mistake and disappear from the leaderboard in a heartbeat.