Stage set for wide open run at US Open title


Sunday at Erin Hills could be a walk they'll never forget. This is the first time in 25 years that the U.S. Open has played as a par 72.

Rickie Fowler, on the verge of being left behind, rallied with three straight birdies and shot 68. "For the most part, the wind was nonexistent". Thomas made six birdies and one bogey on his front nine in the third round, and Hoffman birdied three of his first five holes. Overnight rain provided some soft conditions favorable for scoring, but mishits left plenty of balls in the sand or thick rough on the course's risk-reward holes.

Harman won the 2003 U.S. Junior Amateur, putting him position to become the fourth player to win both the Junior Amateur and U.S. Open titles.

At times, it seems like Stricker is playing a different course than the young guns who routinely carry their drives 300-plus yards.

Among them all you won't find one victor of a major and only Fowler with star power.

The Englishman had a chance for a piece of the third-round lead at the U.S. Open on Saturday as he lined up his third shot on the par-5 final hole - a 50-yard wedge from the bottom of the hill that led to the green.

Casey made a snowman - a triple-bogey 8 on the par-5 14th - and still broke par with a 71. There's just too much luck involved.

"Not every day you enjoy a round of golf with an 8 on the card, but I'm a pretty happy man", Casey said. "Yeah, it was a bit of a roller coaster".

On a crowded leaderboard, American amateur Cameron Champ - who turned 22 on Thursday - and Xander Schauffele were unlikely contenders on five under par alongside Matsuyama, Players Championship victor Si Woo Kim and Brandt Snedeker.

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"I made that long one from off the green on 12 that wasn't really expected and that kind of gave me some energy", the 19-year-old Canadian said.

"I felt the most calm I have in a major in a long time this week", said Day, who arrived last Friday. He's one shot back of the lead shared by four golfers who tee off later Saturday. His round followed another big move from Patrick Reed on the back of a 65, and by the end of the day, almost a dozen players would shoot 68 or better to make a move up the leaderboard.

The world number two, who earlier in the week suggested players unable to find the fairways should "pack their bags", is now contemplating an early exit following a second-round 71.

The cut came at 1 over, which tied the record for lowest cut in tournament history, in relation to par, also established in 1990.

Getting a weekend off are the world's top three ranked players; number one Dustin Johnson, number two Rory McIlroy and number three Jason Day, who all missed the cut leaving a decidedly unglamorous leaderboard. "But when you're visually looking down the fairway, I think when you're trying to aim at a target at a normal golf course, with normal width fairways, there's some pressure into hitting the fairway because it is a lot narrower than we have out here".

"Yeah, the same thing as yesterday", Johnson said.

"I've got a busy summer, so I'm excited to play a lot of golf". I'm going to let it happen. But if it does blow, then you'll definitely have to play proper golf.

T2. Justin Thomas (-11): Thomas' 59 from earlier in the year showed he can go low, but Saturday's round didn't feel like a one-off. If the course gets more water, it will be hard pressed to play fast and firm and tougher. He went from pouring putts into the center of the cup to burning the edges, and his 39 on the back nine cost him the lead, though not his chances of breaking through for that first major. "Got off to a good start, finished strong". But if it gets soft, they'll get wide again and guys will be throwing darts out there.