Ardmore, Pa. • Phil Mickelson knew it was going to be close, so he made sure his group could finish the second round of the U.S. Open on Friday.
The rule when a round is halted because of darkness is that players have the option to complete a hole.
Mickelson, Steve Stricker and Keegan Bradley were on the 17th with the sun falling fast when Lefty spoke to Dustin Johnson in the group ahead of them.
"We told DJ and his caddie, Keith Sbarbaro, we may hit one shot, and they looked out for it," Mickelson said.
Mickelson and Stricker were still on the 17th green when Bradley went over to the 18th green. The Johnson group, still in the fairway, moved to the side so Bradley could hit his tee shot. If the horn were to sound, Mickelson's group would be able to play the final hole because at least one player [Bradley] had teed off on the 18th.
"They moved out of the way, and Keegan hit a tee shot, and they went back and finished the hole," Mickelson said. "It was nice of them so we could finish."
It turned out they didn't need to rush. The horn didn't sound until everyone in Mickelson's group was on the 18th hole. Mickelson made a 20-foot birdie for a 72 to share the clubhouse lead. Stricker got up-and-down from 40 yards short of the green for a par. He shot 69 and was one shot behind.
Bradley had no chance of making the cut. That's why it didn't matter that he rushed over to play his tee shot on the 18th.
It was critical for the top players to finish, and that included the group behind Justin Rose, Matt Kuchar and Brandt Snedeker.
Rose made par for a 69 and joined Stricker at one shot behind.
Because the second round won't finish until Saturday morning, the last few groups of the third round likely won't tee off until mid-afternoon. The last thing anyone wanted to do particularly Mickelson, Stricker, Rose was to return to Merion at the crack of dawn to play one hole, and then come back some eight hours later.
"We had to wait about two or three minutes on the tee," Rose said. "And I was getting nervous. Kuch ... suddenly grabbed the club and he was ready. That was definitely taking one for the team."
Struggling at home
Jim Furyk had the home crowd on his side. He just failed to deliver a performance worth cheering for Friday.
Furyk, born in the nearby Philly suburb of West Chester and raised in Lancaster, shot a 9-over 79. Furyk, the 2003 U.S. Open champion, won't be adding a second one to the collection. He hadn't played Merion Golf Club since the 1989 U.S. Amateur.
"It showed," he said. "I didn't do a great job with my prep. I felt like I was ready coming here but I obviously played very poorly. It was probably my worst putting performance in the last three or four years."
Furyk doesn't know when he'll play again in the area.
"I never really played well at the tournaments here," he said. "It's a bummer. I crossed the state at Oakmont for a couple of championships. At 43, there's not going to be another tournament here at Merion."
Vonn gets dirty
Tiger Woods' ski-champion girlfriend Lindsey Vonn had to trek through the mud at Merion like any other fan. "Sums up my day on the golf course... #muddy #usopen2013," she wrote on Twitter. The tweet went along with a photo of her standing ankle-deep in the soupy muck. She later posted a Vine video of various muddy shoes and boots around the course. "Muddy shoes... Best and worst so far. #whatweretheythinking."