Luke Donald (Getty Images)
Luke Donald and Charl Schwartzel found themselves top of the leaderboard
as the third round of the US Open Championship developed into a war of attrition at Merion.
Former World Number One Donald began the third round one behind Americans Billy Horschel
and Phil Mickelson on level par, with 2011 Masters Tournament champion Schwartzel a shot further back.
But England’s Donald birdied the long fourth, and Schwartzel picked up shots at the third fourth and seventh after a bogey at the second to leave the two European Tour Members as the only players on the course in red numbers on one under.
Australian John Senden and American Steve Stricker were one behind, with Donald’s compatriots Ian Poulter and Justin Rose alongside Mickelson and Horschel
on one over.
and Donald both picked up shots at the tenth, but things remained bunched at the top with Hunter Mahan, Mickelson and Rose all moving to one under.
Stricker and Horschel
were level par, but Poulter’s hopes of a first Major were dealt a significant blow when he drove out of bounds on the 15th and ran up a double bogey to fall five off the pace.
Mahan moved into a share of the lead after a brilliant approach to three feet on the 16th, only to then miss the green on the par three 17th and give the shot straight back.
And when playing partner Schwartzel also bogeyed after failing to get up and down from a greenside
bunker, Donald held the outright lead on two under par.