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2013 U.S. OPEN GOLF | Day 3 Digest

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U.S. Open Digest: Amateur Michael Kim enjoys seeing his name among top pros

ARDMORE, Pa. Michael Kim’s first U.S. Open is going quite well.

Kim, an amateur who just completed his sophomore season at California, is 4-over par and 10th after three rounds at Merion Golf Club, five shots behind leader Phil Mickelson.

He also enjoyed every minute of his 1-over 71 during Saturday’s third round.

“I kept looking at the leader board, not because I wanted to know how I was doing, but it was so cool to see my name next to names like Mickelson, (Luke) Donald, (Charl) Schwartzel,” said Kim, the winner of last season’s Jack Nicklaus Award as the nation’s top collegiate golfer. “It was just an incredible feeling.”

Kim, who tied for 46th at the recent NCAA championships, is one of four amateurs who made the cut, joining Cheng Tsung Pan, Michael Weaver and Kevin Phelan as the most since four played the weekend at Shinnecock Hills in Southampton, N.Y., in 2004. Charlotte native Bill Haas was a member of that group.

The last time more than four amateurs made the cut was 1971 at Merion, when five did. Amateur Jim Simons, then a player at Wake Forest, had the 54-hole lead that year and was just a stroke off the lead on the final hole. But his tee shot found the rough and Lee Trevino eventually won in a playoff.

Notes

• Gastonia’s Harold Varner finished his first U.S. Open with a two-day total of 155, 15-over. It certainly was a good experience for Varner, a former East Carolina golfer who will return to the eGolf Tour. Varner tied for 135th and beat players like Jim Furyk, Jose Maria Olazabal and Robert Garrigus.

After he wrapped up his round, Varner got in his car and began the long drive to Raleigh, where he said he will play in a Web.com qualifier Monday.

“The goals stay the same,” said Varner, who played at Forestview High. “I’m probably more determined than I was before I teed off this week. I don’t know when my break will come, but when it does, I’ll be ready.”

• When last we saw Jason Day, he was the second-round leader at the Masters. Saturday, Day had one of the U.S. Open’s best rounds, a 2-under 68 that leaves him 2 over for the tournament and three shots out of the lead.

“Really, the majors are kind of where it’s at,” said Day, whose lone victory on the PGA Tour was the 2010 Byron Nelson Championship. “… You’re playing against the best players in the world at the highest level on the toughest golf courses. I enjoy playing in front of a lot of people and playing against the best.”

• Rickie Fowler had the day’s best round with a 67, but playing partners Sergio Garcia and Charlotte resident Robert Karlsson had nightmares. Garcia took a 10 on the par-4 15th hole, finishing with an 11-over 81. Karlsson had a tougher time of it with a 16-over 86 – the worst round of the day.

Garcia has been taking some heat from some Philadelphia-area fans for his “fried chicken” remarks about Tiger Woods.

• Webb Simpson is at 11-over after a 5-over 75 Saturday. That means he won’t successfully defend the U.S. Open title he won in San Francisco.

“It’s been tough,” Charlotte resident Simpson said of Merion. “It’s been exactly what I figured it would be: very challenging, very penal.”

Observations

• Interesting thing about Woods at major now. It’s not that he is not winning them, he is not really a factor in them any more.

• Par still is a fleeting thing at Merion, and likely will remain so Sunday as the course continues to dry out.

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