It was a wild day at the U.S. Open with spectacular shot making, low scores and a star-studded leaderboard. Heading into today’s final round, Brian Harman holds a one-shot lead at 12-under after shooting his second five-under 67 of the championship. Chasing Harman at 11-under are Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood and Justin Thomas. Thomas shot a record-setting 9-under 63 to post the most under-par round in U.S. Open history. Alone in fifth place at 10-under is Rickie Fowler, who fired a third-round 68, and behind him are 11 other players within six shots of Harman’s lead. None of the top 16 players have a major championship to their name, so barring an incredible comeback, the streak of first time major winners will stretch to seven. Full scores
Better than most
A good chunk of the golf world celebrated after Justin Thomas fired the lowest (to par) score in U.S. Open history with his 9-under par 63. Thomas’ round ended polarizing color analyst Johnny Miller’s claim to the honor after his frequent reminders, but unfortunately for fans, Miller does still hold the lowest score in a final round of the U.S. Open at its arguably hardest venue, Oakmont. My guess is we will continue to hear about it for years to come. When asked about Thomas’ round, Johnny told Golf Channel’s Ryan Lavner "9 under is incredible with U.S. Open pressure, but it isn't a U.S. Open course that I'm familiar with the way it was set up." No matter what Johnny says, Thomas’ round was spectacular, and it’ll be interesting to see how he backs it up today in the hunt for his first major championship win.
JT’s 63 overshadowed another great round, a 7-under 65 from Ryder Cup legend Patrick Reed. The round was quite different from JT’s with Reed making eight birdies despite only hitting 12 greens. Reed is looking for his first career top 10 in a major, and thanks to Saturday’s great score, he is just four shots out of the lead and in reach.
Why scores are low
There is a schism among golf fans as to whether or not scoring has gotten out of hand at the traditionally “tough” U.S. Open. Despite stretching over 7,800 yards, Erin Hills has been torched to record scoring days in each of the first three rounds. While scores have been low, there have also been some poor ones, which leads me to believe that the lack of carnage comes from the rain soaked, soft setup and lack of wind on the links course. It rained more on Saturday night, but at least some wind is in the forecast for today’s final round to give players more of a test.
The rare fair fight
While not your “traditional” U.S. Open course, Erin Hills may actually be better than the classics because it allows for a wide variety of players to succeed. Brian Harman had never made the cut at the U.S. Open but is now 54 holes from winning one. I dove into the beauty of Erin Hills’ design and how power players, tacticians and magicians are all able to succeed at the course.
22-year-old Texas A&M star Cameron Champ started the day three shots off the lead. Unfortunately, he wasn’t among the players torching Erin Hills. Champ struggled, shooting a one-over-par 73 to fall back into a tie for 17th and two shots ahead of Texas star Scottie Scheffler, who was four-under par on the day until he made a triple bogey 8 on the final hole. While Champ and Scheffler are playing each other for low-amateur honors, they both have an outside shot at a top 10 finish and an exemption into next year’s U.S. Open with a great final round.
Prediction: Brian Harman
I like how Harman has been steady all week shooting rounds of 67-70-67 to hold the lead. You will hear announcers call him diminutive, but Harman is a killer. He dominated as a junior, went on to an All-American career at Georgia and now has a chance to achieve something anyone who saw him play growing up expected from him.
More on the Web schedule issue
I touched on this briefly in Wednesday’s newsletter, but Brendan Porath did a great job detailing the difficult position Web Tour players are in with this week’s U.S. Open. Players are forced to choose between playing in the U.S. Open or focusing on earning their PGA Tour card through the Web Tour Schedule. Read more about it here.
We will have official results from both pools in Monday’s newsletter. Good luck to all, happy Father’s Day and enjoy what’s set up to be a great final round of the U.S. Open.