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Four amateurs advance to weekend at Merion

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ARDMORE, Pa. – Four amateurs will make the cut at the U.S. Open for the first time since 2004.

Now, the big question: Can any of them stay in contention and post the best finish by an amateur at the Open since 1980?

Kim, a rising junior at Cal and the country’s best college player in 2012-13, is the best among the amateurs through 36 holes, sitting at 3-over 143, four shots off the lead.

The other amateurs who made the cut are Washington’s Cheng-Tsung Pan, who on Saturday morning played his last five holes in 4 over to slip to 4-over 144, as well as Cal’s Michael Weaver, the 2012 U.S. Amateur runner-up, and former North Florida standout Kevin Phelan, both of whom shot 8-over 148 for the first two rounds.

“I mean, college golfers, they’re good,” Pan said. “We get a lot of opportunities to compete on the Tour, PGA Tour, and sometimes we qualify for the U.S. Open and we learn things.

“Nowadays, we have more experience competing on the pro Tour. So that pushes you to play well in a big event like this. Those are good players and I know them well and I’m not surprised that they play well.”

Amateurs have fared well at the U.S. Open in each of the past three years: In 2012, Jordan Spieth tied for 21st; a year earlier, Patrick Cantlay also had a T-21 finish; and in 2010, Russell Henley and Scott Langley were joint 16th.

Since 1980, only one amateur at the U.S. Open has cracked the top 15: Spencer Levin, in ’04, who tied for 13th at Shinnecock.