Brooklyn, Massachusetts. Eight players had time topping the leaderboard, all kicked – some worse than others – at the US Open which felt like the toughest test in golf on a cold, windy afternoon at a country club.
Saturday was the US Open classic, it’s all about survival.
Zalatoris, who lost in a PGA Championship playoff last month at Southern Hills, committed only one bogey, a stunning feat over a monster of Brookline track, for a 3-under-67.
“It felt like I was shooting a 61,” Zlatoris said. “Whenever I made a mistake I was able to get away with it or make something miraculous.”
Fitzpatrick played in the final set at the PGA Championship. Now the 27-year-old from England is on familiar ground at The Country Club, where he won the American Amateur in 2013. He’s been equally consistent and has run three birds over his last five holes for 68.
Most telling: they didn’t do any double ghosting.
This is what knocked down the defense of the US Open champion John Ram From the lead in the last hole. The Spaniard thought he had seen everything, including a bullet he played with the back of the hand from the base of a tree on the eighth hole, until he took three strokes of sand in two bunkers.
Ram’s first shot from the bunker hit his lip and nearly rolled into his footprint. His next shot found a dead-end lie in a green bunker, after which two hits had a 71 and he went 1 to 1 in the back.
Ram was unfazed by his swing on the last hole. If anything, he said it was getting dark and he didn’t notice his ball sitting on the sand. The USGA sent out the final set at 3:45 p.m. to maximize television exposure. And maybe try to tolerate too much.
Either way, he was in no mood to look anywhere but the future.
“I’ve got 18 holes, and I’m only one shot,” he said. “This is the important thing.”
Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick were in a 4-under 206, the same 54-hole score when the US Open was at The Country Club in 1988.
It’s not like Ram had full rights to take the lead. Saturday at Brookline was so cold that Ram was the last of eight players to have at least a share of the lead at some point. Three of them didn’t even finish among the top ten, including the two-time main champion Colin Morikawa.
Morikawa, who shared the lead with 36 holes Joel Dahmin, had a double bogey in the seventh and thirteenth slots, and may have had a third after a wedge cut at number 4 except he made 25 feet for the ghost. He finished with a score of 77.
Seven of Saturday’s top 12 players committed at least one double bogey.
Rory McIlroy It was not on that list. His bleeding was slow, mostly from a racket that wasn’t acting up. He made one birdie in his 73rd round.
All that, and this US Open has not been decided yet.
“It was one of the toughest days on a golf course in a long time,” McIlroy said. “I just needed to improve it, and I did it on the defense of the nine. And playing that nine linebacker on par today was a really good effort, I thought. Just keeping myself in the championship. That’s all I was trying to do. Just keep hanging around.”
After a wild third run, Fitzpatrick was listed as a +330 favorite in Caesars Sportsbook, followed by Zalatoris (+350), Rahm (+400), Scotty Scheffler (+550) and McIlroy (+800).
Twenty-three players were up for grabs in the third round. There are only nine left with 18 holes remaining, all separated by 3-shots.
That includes a local star – perhaps not from Frances Ouimet’s group, but Keegan Bradley Big enough in Beantown that he heard his name chant loudly and proudly as he advanced toward the Eighteenth Green. A former PGA champion, he described it as “probably the highlight of my entire life.”
It gave them a reason to be happy. Three through seven holes, Bradley answered eagerly and birdily, five of them on his last 11 holes with a 69.
It was two pieces late Adam Hadwin (70) and Scheffler. McIlroy was in 3 again with Sam Burns (71) Wadhmen, who didn’t make a birdie in his 74th turn but stayed in the game because he didn’t have any blunders.
The average score was 73.5 and only seven players broke the tie. Denny McCarthy Make the cut-off number 3 equal. He finished 68 before the leaders reached the course. By the end of the day, he was tied up in eleventh place with five bullets.
The US Open played everything like her.
“I knew it was going to be difficult,” Dahmin said. “I didn’t know it would be this difficult.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.