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Amateur Jordan Spieth, 18, sparkles at U.S. Open

It was Phil Mickelson’s birthday Saturday but he wasn’t much celebratory mood. Mickels42 is 8 over after 54 holes. |

It was Phil Mickelson’s birthday Saturday, but he wasn’t in much of a celebratory mood. Mickelson, 42, is 8 over after 54 holes. | AP

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Updated: July 18, 2012 6:42AM



SAN FRANCISCO — Two truths that were self-evident during the first two rounds of the U.S. Open remained in place Saturday at the Olympic Club.

Once again, the course was tormenting some of the world’s best players. And once again, a young amateur defied the odds by posting a strong round.

Beau Hossler, 17, a high school player from California who has committed to the University of Texas, has shot 70-73-70.

On Saturday, another Longhorn, Jordan Spieth, 18, shot a 1-under 69 and sounded like he’d dodged bullets to win a lottery.

‘‘It’s really hard,’’ said Spieth, who’s 7 over after 54 holes. ‘‘I was happy to get in my first round in the 60s in a major. That’s pretty cool. I felt like I played really well today.’’

The tee shots are the most demanding, Spieth said.

‘‘Balls are bouncing in the fairway, and they’re severely sloped,’’ Spieth said. ‘‘You really only have 10 yards to hit it in. You’re trying to place a drive out there that’s going to carry 275 in a 10-yard space. So everyone is going to miss fairways.’’

Grinding, not fun

One reason the Lakes Course at Olympic figured to play tougher on the weekend was the weather. Warmer and drier meant faster on a course that already was perilously slick, especially for the leaders, who were teeing off late in the day.

Even golfers in the hunt sounded like they’d trade places with Nik Wallenda and walk a tightrope over Niagara Falls.

While the course seems to suit the game of Jim Furyk, the second-round co-leader said having fun was not on his mind, no matter how deftly he was maneuvering around the course.

‘‘I think it would be a really fun golf course to play with the members,’’ Furyk said. ‘‘But with this setup and as firm and as fast as it is, fun might not be the first word that comes out.’’

Teen thrills and frills

A second-round 78 on top of an opening 79, meant Andy Zhang, 14, missed the cut at 17 over par. But the youngest player to compete in a U.S. Open will take home a trophy case full of memories.

‘‘The best highlight?’’ said Zhang, a Beijing native who qualified via a Florida sectional. ‘‘It had to be [Thursday] on No. 18, making that [birdie] putt from the fringe. That’s the loudest cheer I’ve heard. Basically everything was really cool this week. Standing actually right next to Bubba Watson [in a practice round], watching him hitting the tee shot.’’

The perks finished a close second to the golf.

‘‘The free food is really good,’’ Zhang said. ‘‘Great candy bars in the locker room. Your shoes are free — and they do your laundry and everything.’’

Have your Phil

It was not the happiest of birthdays on the golf front for Phil Mickelson, who turned 42 Saturday. He did appreciate the birthday serenade from fans on No. 18, though, while finishing up a 71 that left him 8 over after 54 holes.

‘‘It was a long, difficult day even though it’s my birthday,’’ Mickelson said. ‘‘It was very flattering of the fans. Thank you.’’

The swing breakthrough Mickelson spoke of after shooting 71 on Friday didn’t help him move up the third-round leaderboard.



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