Paul Casey is 6 over through three rounds at Merion. (Halleran/Getty Images)
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
ARDMORE, Pa. -- Paul Casey said the players knew from the get-go that Merion would be a stern challenge even if the pundits didn't.
"It was cracking all the guys up at the beginning of the week," he said. "Guys like Frank Nobilo saying it's going to be 62s or 63s around here. And we didn't know which golf course he was talking about, because we knew this was going to be a brutal test."
That's why he was so satisfied with Saturday's round of 71 that included 16 greens in regulation. He's likely too far back to contend at 6 over but he's improved each round this week at Merion, a course he joked was turning his hair gray.
"It's a little torturous, but I enjoy the challenge and I think the rest of the guys do," Casey said. "I think the fans appreciate how difficult this is, as well. They get an idea of how difficult this place is. Yeah, it's a thrill to play a golf course like this."
Casey said the greens were still receptive on Saturday but the pins positions kept the scores down. He said he wouldn't be surprised to see even par win the U.S. Open on Sunday but added "It's all up to (USGA executive director) Mike Davis and his crew to give us the examination paper."
"I think it's going to be great, it really is," Casey said. "And it's a brutal finish. It's not going to be won with a flush of birdies coming down the stretch. Majors are meant to be the ultimate test, and the U.S. Open probably is that ultimate test of golf. So I hope Mike Davis is somewhat gentle and gives us a glimmer of hope."