Dustin Johnson walks past a crowd of spectators on his way to the 14th tee during the second round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Friday, June 15, 2018, in Southampton, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The Latest: Gretzky says Johnson's attitude a big asset

June 16, 2018 - 1:50 pm

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. (AP) — The Latest on the US Open (all times local):

1:45 p.m.

For all Dustin Johnson's power and athleticism, Wayne Gretzky believes one of his greatest assets is his attitude.

Gretzky stopped by the Fox Sports booth on Saturday to chat with hosts Brad Faxon and Shane Bacon. Johnson is engaged to Gretzky's daughter, Paulina, and they have two children.

Johnson has leaned on the Great One for advice over the years. Gretzky says Johnson, who has a four-shot lead at Shinnecock Hills, never blames conditions or a golf course when something goes wrong on the course. And a lot has gone wrong over the years.

Gretzky recalled the time Johnson needed a 12-foot eagle putt on the 18th hole at Chambers Bay to win the 2015 U.S. Open. Johnson three-putted for par to finish one shot behind Jordan Spieth. The whole family went to Idaho the following day, and he says Johnson played golf with them for 20 straight days. Gretzky compared that with losing Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final and playing pickup hockey the next day with amateurs.

Gretzky was at Oakmont two years ago but had to leave before the final round when Johnson won the U.S. Open.

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noon

Phil Mickelson won't have any trouble remembering Saturday is his birthday.

Mickelson turned 48, and he was serenaded with "Happy Birthday" when he strode to the first tee at Shinnecock Hills to start his third round of the U.S. Open. As he stepped toward the tee shot, one fan screamed, "Hit a good birthday shot, Phil!"

And that was just the first hole.

The best present for Lefty would be contention for the title. This is the only major he has never won, and Mickelson has had two good chances at Shinnecock. He opened with two pars. He remains 10 shots behind.

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11:20 a.m.

Dustin Johnson has history on his side going into the weekend at the U.S. Open.

Johnson became the seventh player to lead by at least four shots after 36 holes in more than a century of this 72-hole championship. Only one player failed to win the trophy, and that was in 1909 when Tom McNamara sputtered on the weekend.

Johnson was the only player under par — 4-under 136 — and led by four shots over Scott Piercy and Charley Hoffman.

Three major champions were within five shots — Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose and defending champion Brooks Koepka. The sun was out, and there was just enough wind in the Hamptons for Shinnecock Hills to remain the tough test it has been over the opening two days.

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