San Francisco, CA – Michael Kim's stellar season is about to get even better if he continues to play the way he has this weekend.
The University of California standout finished off an even-par round of 70 Saturday morning to make the cut at plus-3. He played the first nine holes of the third round in 1-over par with a bogey on the par-3 third.
Kim, the Jack Nicklaus award winner as collegiate Player of the Year, flew into contention on the back side. He birdied the short, par-4 10th.
He then converted back-to-back birdie chances at the 12th and 13th. Kim continued his charge with a birdie at 15. That moved him to even-par and within three of the lead.
Kim, who was also the PAC-12 Player of the Year, fell apart from there. He dropped four strokes in the last three holes with bogeys at 16 and 18 to go with a double bogey at 17.
Paul Casey, for one, was impressed with Kim's play.
"That's amazing stuff, that really is. Yeah, it's phenomenal. It took me years to figure out how to play a U.S. Open golf course and then you've got to develop the maturity to deal with the ups and downs and the breaks that you're given in a championship like this," Casey stated. "We've seen amateurs have great results through the years. One guy is up on the leaderboard, Justin Rose, he knows what it's like to be in contention in a major championship as a teenager."
DAY BACK IN CONTENTION
It was just three short years ago that Jason Day was on the fast track to stardom. In 2010, he won the Byron Nelson Championship, then shared 10th at the PGA Championship.
The young Australian followed that with a pair of top-5 finishes in the first two FedExCup playoff events. That led to a huge 2011 campaign.
Day, in his fourth full season on the PGA Tour, posted back-to-back runner-up finishes at the Masters and at the U.S. Open. He piled up 10 top-10 finishes that year and was on the fast track.
Meanwhile, he was battling a variety of injuries that plagued him for a long period that stretched through much of the 2012 campaign.
Day is back to full health this season as he has posted third-place finishes at the Accenture Match Play and the Masters.
He used a third-round 68 to move into contention at Merion. He finished three rounds just three shots off the lead.
"Really, the majors are kind of where it's at. I think that it really defines a career and if you can win as many as you can," Day stated. "It just goes to show, I mean, you're playing against the best players in the world at the highest level on the toughest golf courses, and I think that I just really enjoy playing in front of a lot of people and playing against the best."
* Phil Mickelson's 41 PGA Tour wins are second to Sam Snead in most PGA Tour wins without a U.S. Open title.
* Five former U.S. Open champions made the cut -- Webb Simpson, Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Geoff Ogilvy and Ernie Els. Of the five, Els is closest to the lead as he finished three rounds at 6-over 216 after a third-round 73.
* When the second round was completed earlier in the day, 73 players made the cut, which was at 8-over 148. Four amateurs made the cut. The last time more than four made the cut at the Open was in 1971 here at Merion.
* The four par-3s combined to measure 828 yards for the third round. That's pretty long considering the 13th measured just 98 yards.
* None of the 20 players that made it through local and sectional qualifying made the cut. The USGA starting tracking that fact in 1997 and this is the first time it has happened that none made it to the weekend.
* The 13th was the easiest hole on Saturday as players averaged 2.73 strokes on the par-3. Through three rounds, the 13th has been the easiest hole playing to an average of 2.82 strokes.
* The par-4 fifth was the most difficult hole in round three as it took players 4.79 shots on average. The par-4 18th has been the most difficult hole through three rounds as it has averaged 4.71 shots.