Justin Rose

Justin Rose of England looks skyward in honor of his late father after finishing the fourth round of the U.S. Open on Sunday at Merion Golf Club. (Ross Kinnaird / Getty Images / June 16, 2013)

Steve Stricker could look at Phil Mickelson before the final round of the 113th U.S. Open and honestly suggest, "While we're still young?"

Mickelson turns 43 on Sunday and is trying to win his first U.S. Open. He's finished second five times and coughed up some great chances. How many more chances will he get?

Mickelson has the lead at one-under-par 209, a single stroke ahead of Hunter Mahan, Stricker and Charl Schwartzel.

"I feel better equipped than I ever have heading into a final round of a U.S. Open," Mickelson said.

One reason is he's not carrying a driver in his bag, and that has forced him to play a brutal course with calculated conservatism.

Stricker, at 46, is seeking his first major while trying to become the oldest player to win the U.S. Open.

"It would mean a lot, it really would," Stricker said. "But it's going to be a challenge [Sunday]."

There are other good story lines.

Justin Rose, Luke Donald and Billy Horschel are all two shots back at one-over 211. All are seeking their first majors, as is Mahan.

Rose, now 32, figured to be a cinch years ago when, at age 17, he made a run at the British Open. Donald is 35 and spent time at No. 1 in the world but is missing something big on his trophy case.

"I want to win a major," he said.

Horschel is only 26, and if he can control his temper, should challenge for years.

Mickelson and Stricker, though, are the clear sentimental favorites. Both are family men who would look good hoisting up the U.S. Open trophy on Father's Day.

Mickelson and Mahan will go off in the final pairing at 3:20 EDT, right after Stricker and Schwartzel.

There's nothing left to do now but watch and wait.

Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, the top two players in the world, shot themselves out of contention Saturday, so they'll be done in plenty of time to catch what should be an exciting finish.

--Chris Dufresne


Phil Mickelson makes some noise at the U.S. Open

Steve Stricker is quietly making one shot behind at U.S. Open

Amateur Michael Kim from Cal getting some local help at Merion