To average Americans, golfers don't gain celebrity status before winning a U.S. Open or a Masters.
See: Watson, Bubba.
Then again, even winners of those two major championships don't often hold onto their celebrity status without more success on the big stage.
For the three leaders after the front nine holes of the last round Sunday — Australian Jason Day, South African Jason Day and American Hunter Mahan — this could be their breakthrough moment.
None of those three, all in their early 30s, have won a major — the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open or PGA Championship.
Day, 30, has come closest, with second place finishes at the Masters in 2011 and U.S. Open in 2011. Mahan, 31, has top 8 finishes in three of the four, and Rose, 33, has top 5 finishes in all four.
Despite not finishing atop in any of the majors, they have combined to win more than $50 million in prize money — just on the PGA Tour alone. That's not counting any over tours around the world, like the European Tour.
Their biggest obstacle this afternoon toward a first major and the household name value that comes with it?
It's not Merion.
It's Phil Mickelson, 43 years old and winner of four major championships. On the first hole of the back nine Sunday, he drained a 76-yard chip shot to pull back ahead of all three with eight holes to play. His career winnings: just under $70 million.