- Associated Press - Saturday, June 18, 2011

BETHESDA, MD. (AP) - Webb Simpson made five birdies over his first 10 holes of the third round of the U.S. Open and he was still 10 shots behind Rory McIlroy.

Simpson, a runner up at the tour stop in New Orleans earlier this year, got to 1-under par Saturday, hours before McIlroy was set to tee off.

McIlroy set the U.S. Open 36-hole record, heading into the weekend at 11-under-par 131. He held a six-shot lead over Y.E. Yang, tying him with Tiger Woods for the largest margin at the halfway point. Sergio Garcia and Zach Johnson were in a group of five tied for third at 2-under par.

Congressional was hot (mid 80s), humid and breezy as the leaders started arriving to warm up. There was a 40 percent chance of thundershowers later in the afternoon.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

BETHESDA, Md. (AP) _ The Rory McIlroy chase is on.

The third round of the U.S. Open started on a cloudy, muggy morning at Congressional on Saturday, with Adam Hadwin and Christo Greyling hitting the first shots. They were tied for last place, 15 shots behind. The second-place player, Y.E. Yang, was six back.

McIlroy entered the weekend at 11-under 131, a record 36-hole score at the U.S. Open. The six-stroke lead matched a U.S. Open record for the biggest advantage at the halfway point.

Tiger Woods was up six at Pebble Beach en route to his 15-stroke blowout at the 2000 U.S. Open and some were saying McIlroy’s performance, at least after two rounds, is every bit as impressive.

“It’s very near the best I can play,” McIlroy said.

McIlroy would have been ahead by more had he not slipped up on the 18th hole Friday, hitting his drive left, then losing control of the recovery shot and knocking that into the water. He ended up with double bogey. It may have offered a ray of hope _ but only a small one _ to the 71 players who returned for the weekend to chase him.

“It’s only two days,” said Zach Johnson, who at 2-under par was in a five-way tie for third place. “I’m not going to give it to him yet.”

Two months ago, McIlroy carried a four-shot lead into the final round of the Masters but imploded. He insisted he used Augusta as a learning experience and after two dominating days at Congressional, it seems he learned a lot.

At one point, he went 17 holes without missing a green. He went the first 35 holes without making a bogey.

After back-to-back birdies on 16 and 17, he reached 13-under par _ the first time that number has ever been posted at any point in the 111-year history of the U.S. Open.

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