Hunter Mahan (Getty Images)
The final round of the 113th US Open Championship got off to an extraordinary start at Merion as Hunter Mahan hit the front.
American Shawn Stefani had carded the first ace in a US Open at Merion thanks to a lucky bounce on his four iron tee shot to the 229 yard 17th, but even more drama
was soon unfolding at the other end of the course.
Steve Stricker, one shot off the lead held by Ryder Cup team-mate
Phil Mickelson starting
the day, hit his tee shot out of bounds on the par five second and, after finding the fairway with his second ball, shanked that out of bounds as well.
The resulting triple bogey eight dropped Stricker four behind Mickelson and South African Charl Schwartzel, the former Masters champion having birdied the first as his five foot putt toppled in after hovering on the lip.
Luke Donald's hopes had also suffered a blow when he needed a driver to try to reach the par three third and hooked it well left of the green.
Playing partner Justin Rose also dropped a shot on the same hole to fall three behind.
dropped back to one over after three putts at the fourth and fifth, and with Mickelson running up a double bogey at the extremely challenging third, Mahan was left as the only remaining player on level par after three pars in a row.