US Open 2017: Southport’s Tommy Fleetwood one off Brian Harman’s lead at Erin Hills
|US Open round three leaderboard, Erin Hills|
|-12 B Harman (US); -11 J Thomas (US), B Koepka (US), T Fleetwood (Eng); -10 R Fowler (US); -9 K Si-woo (Kor)|
|Selected: -8 P Reed (US); -6 H Matsuyama (Jpn); -4 E Pepperell (Eng), S Garcia (Spa) C Champ* ((US), P Casey (Eng); -3 M Fitzpatrick (Eng); -1 M Laird (Sco), A Johnston (Eng); +3 L Westwood (Eng); +4 J Spieth (US); +5 E Els (SA)|
|* denotes amateur|
England’s Tommy Fleetwood is one shot off Brian Harman’s lead going into Sunday’s final round of the US Open.
Fleetwood shot a four-under-par 68 to keep pace with fellow overnight leader Brooks Koepka at Erin Hills, while Harman carded a 67 to lead on 12 under.
Paul Casey, who also started on seven under, fell away with a three-over 75.
Justin Thomas is tied for second after becoming the first man to shoot a nine-under-par round at the US Open and the fifth 63 in its 117-year history.
Rickie Fowler, who led after round one, had a run of three successive birdies from the 14th as he shot a four-under 68 to get to 10 under and just two off the lead.
South Korea’s 21-year-old Kim Si-woo, who became the youngest winner of the Players Championship in May, also shot a 68 and is one further back.
Masters champion Sergio Garcia is in a group of nine players on four under after he posted a one-under 71.
Thomas’ record round
There had been four other 63s in US Open history before this week. Jonny Miller hit the first on the par-71 Oakmont in 1973, while Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf’s efforts came on the par-70 Baltusrol in 1980.
Fiji’s Vijay Singh also recorded a seven-under 63, at Olympia Fields in 2003.
The US Open tournament organisers have historically prided themselves on trying to make the winning score as close to level par as possible.
However, heavy overnight rain dumped an inch of water on the course and that undoubtedly helped low scoring with players able to take advantage of receptive greens and attack the holes.
Thomas opened his round with two birdies before dropping a shot on the fourth. Four more birdies followed on the front nine before another bogey on the 10th looked to have put paid to his chances of breaking Miller’s 44-year-old record.
But after three birdies in six holes, he eagled the 667-yard par-five 18th, hitting his second shot to eight feet from 300 yards and rolling in the downhill putt.
Fleetwood’s ‘shot of the day’
Southport’s Fleetwood, who finished tied for 27th on his only other US Open appearance in 2015, appeared to be heading towards his second bogey-free round of the tournament after laying up with his second shot on the par-five 18th.
However, he left his chip short and then putted through the green and off it with his fourth shot. A sublime floated wedge to three feet allowed him to escape with only his third bogey of the week.
“That was the best shot I hit all day,” the 26-year-old told BBC Sport.
“I hadn’t been out of position all day and suddenly I was staring double bogey in the face.
“Bad shots make bogeys and 18 was a good example. I could still have been there now, hitting the ball over the green. But I hit the perfect shot and I was made up when I got on the green.
“Three days down and so far so good.”
He said he had “pictured winning the US Open a lot of times before”. He added: I felt really good, played really well. If I wake up with the same feelings on Sunday I’m going to have a chance.”