THERE were LOTS of story lines after three rounds of the US Open with a record tumbling day missing most of the world’s top rated golfers.
World top three Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy and Jason Day all missed the cut along with the likes of Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, John Rahm, Justin Rose and Bubba Watson.
Ironically it was McIlroy, who before the tournament as controversy raged over the length of the Erin Hills rough, said if the world’s top golfers couldn’t handle a course with some of the event’s widest ever fairways then they should “pack up and go home” – well most of them did, including him!
Many of the “lesser” names left had a field day in benign conditions on Saturday, smashing lots of those statistic records Americans love to keep.
Leading was 30 year old Brian Harmon, a golfer with just two PGA TOUR victories and two missed cuts in his two previous US Open appearances.
The comparatively short-hitting Harmon found most of those generous fairways and shot a 5-under 67 to lead by a stroke at 12-under, a 54 hole score only ever bettered in the event by a 14-under from McIlroy.
“This is exactly where I wanted to be since I was 10 years old,” said an unfazed Harmon about going into the final day of his national open in the lead.
The three golfers sharing second place on 11-under are also next on the list of that particular record – Justin Thomas (63), Brooks Koepka (68) and Englishman Tommy Fleetwood (68).
Yes, that’s a 9-under 63 from 24 year year old Thomas (pictured above), who now has the lowest score in relation to par in US Open history. (Previously set by Johnny Miller at Oakmont in 1973)
Thomas, good mate of Jordan Spieth (76) who is languishing back at 4-over, played a superb round exemplified by his second shot on the par five 18th – a 299 yard three wood to about six foot. The resulting eagle joined nine birdies, offset by just two bogies.
Asked what was the best part of his game on the day, the modest Thomas spoke truthfully: “I’d have to lean toward everything,” he reploied.
Historically, in 42 of the last 43 US Opens the winner has been withing four strokes of the lead going into the final round.
In this case that includes nine players, none of whom have previously won a major.
Included in the that list of players is first round leader Rickie Fowler (68) who is two back on 10-under after blowing out with a 73 in the second round.
Fowler is sharing a house locally with Thomas in Erin, Wisconsin, and spoke of how “happy” he was going to be to listen to tales of the record round overnight.
Don’t be surprised if Thomas mysteriously slips down some stairs sometime before he leaves the house in the morning.
Leishman still therabouts
Australia’s only remaining hope in the event is Marc Leishman, and it is a very slim hope.
Leishman (72) has had a great tournament but unfortunately had a doube and single bogey in his final nine to slip back to 4-under.
He’s tied 17th with eight other golfers and they all have 14 players ahead of them.
He needs to do a “Thomas” with a 9-under and then have everyone else fall in a hole – mathematically possible but the historical statics don’t like the scenario at all.
2017 US Open 3rd Highlights Video