BROOKLINE, Mass. — The U.S. Open normally waits till the ultimate day of its 72-hole crucible to toy with the world’s greatest golfers. However maybe in tribute to the venerable historical past of this 12 months’s host, vexing situations — blustery winds, thick tough and quick greens — started to crush the wills and sap the souls of the gamers 24 hours early on the Nation Membership exterior Boston.
With an under-par rating a rarity, the highest of Saturday’s third spherical leaderboard was overhauled continuously. Ultimately, a handful of this 12 months’s hottest golfers remained in rivalry, joined by some lesser-known names to arrange what figures to be an entertaining final-round slugfest towards a golf course that one of many co-leaders, Will Zalatoris, referred to as “an absolute beast.”
Zalatoris’s decided spherical of 67, the bottom on Saturday, left him four-under par for the championship, tied with Matthew Fitzpatrick of England, who shot a two-under par 68. Jon Rahm, the defending U.S. Open champion, squandered a late lead within the spherical to fall one stroke behind Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick.
Rahm had rallied from a stumbling begin in his first 13 holes to make three birdies from the 14th to the seventeenth holes. That moved him to five-under par for the championship.
However Rahm’s drive from the 18th tee dribbled right into a bunker on the left aspect of the green. Rahm’s first try to clear the bunker’s excessive lip failed, and his ball rolled again into the sand. His subsequent shot landed within the easy-to-find 18th gap entrance bunker. The mix of errors introduced a messy finish to Rahm’s spherical: a double bogey that dropped him into third place.
Afterward, Rahm mentioned he misjudged how deep his golf ball had been within the sand, partly as a result of it was getting darkish.
“I had a 9-iron in hand, that’s plenty to get over that lip,” he mentioned. “Maybe I was trying to get too cute — looking for another birdie.
“But it doesn’t really matter much,” Rahm added. “I’m content where I am and happy with how I played.”
Three golfers had been tied for fourth at two-under par, together with Keegan Bradley, a Vermont native who was roundly cheered by the New England crowd as he walked up the 18th fairway on Saturday. Adam Hadwin of Canada, ranked one hundred and fifth within the males’s world golf rankings, shot a good par 70 to tie Bradley. Scottie Scheffler, the reigning Masters champion, joined the group after a chaotic, inconsistent spherical.
Zalatoris was one of many few who not often struggled Saturday, with 4 birdies and just one bogey. Even when he badly sliced his final tee shot of the day 35 yards to the correct of the 18th fairway, he landed in a hall between a grandstand and one other short-term construction.
Although 224 yards away from the outlet, he had sufficient of a gap to lace a exact lengthy iron into the famed, mammoth bunker that protects the 18th inexperienced. From there, Zalatoris splashed a spinning, gutsy shot from the sand after which sank a six-foot par-saving putt.
Though Zalatoris is simply 25, he’s taking part in in his ninth main golf championship and has already contended for a legacy-defining title a number of occasions. Final month, he misplaced the P.G.A. Championship playoff towards Justin Thomas, and he completed second on the 2021 Masters Event. He additionally completed tied for sixth at this 12 months’s Masters and on the 2020 U.S. Open.
The slender defeats in majors haven’t demoralized Zalatoris.
“I know I’m going to get one,” he mentioned after this 12 months’s P.G.A. Championship. “It’s just a matter of time.”
However Zalatoris is aware of the battle towards the Nation Membership’s devilish, decades-old challenges is not going to be gained, solely survived.
“The golf course takes so much discipline and patience,” he mentioned on Saturday night. “That was the hardest golf course that I’ve ever played. It’s just so easy to compound mistakes out here. Of course, you can do that in major championships in general, but especially this one.”
Zalatoris paused briefly, nodded his head, then repeated: “Especially this one.”
Matching Zalatoris with a robust again 9 was Fitzpatrick, who gained the 2013 U.S. Novice on the Nation Membership. Fitzpatrick, who was tied for second getting into the fourth spherical of final month’s P.G.A. Championship, bogeyed his first gap Saturday however shot three-under for the remainder of his spherical.
Fitzpatrick, who’s 27 and ranked 18th worldwide, additionally discovered himself within the sprawling bunker in entrance of the 18th inexperienced late within the third spherical. He had a tougher lie and needed to accept bogey.
With about two hours left within the third spherical, it appeared that Scheffler, ranked No. 1, was going to take a commanding lead into the ultimate spherical. Due to an eagle from 102 yards on the par-5 eighth gap, Scheffler was three-under par by way of 10 holes and six-under par for the event.
However Scheffler’s tee shot on the brief, downhill par-3 eleventh gap flew over the inexperienced right into a hazard. A clunky chip and one other dicey pitch that trundled 25 toes downhill previous the outlet led to a double bogey. Two flubbed chips on the following gap price Scheffler one other stroke to par. Improbably, that grew to become the primary of three consecutive bogeys that noticed Scheffler tumble from his perch on the prime of the leaderboard.
Solely two golfers within the subject who performed in final week’s inaugural LIV Golf occasion made the lower to qualify for this weekend’s closing two rounds. Dustin Johnson shot a one-over par 71 on Saturday and is two-over par for the event. Richard Bland shot a 72 Saturday and is four-over for the championship.
The opposite 11 LIV collection golfers who went dwelling after the opening two rounds had been a mixed 83-over par, the futility highlighted by Phil Mickelson’s 11-over-par end, though Louis Oosthuizen’s six-over par was ugly as properly.
Whereas Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Reed have but to play a LIV Golf occasion, they’ve dedicated to the collection. Each have been steadily declining on the earth rankings and their performances this week is not going to reverse that pattern. DeChambeau shot 76 on Saturday and is now eight-over for the competitors. Reed shot 75 and is six-over for the event.
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