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Sunday, 18 June 2017

Justin Thomas became the first man to shoot a round of nine-under at US Open

Tommy Fleetwood just one shot off the lead at the US Open as American Justin Thomas fires record 63 to set up dramatic final day at Erin Hills

  • England's Fleetwood remained in contention for a maiden major title 
  • The 26-year-old from Southport finished on 11-under-par on Saturday
  • Justin Thomas became the first man to shoot a round of nine-under at US Open
Not even an historic round for the ages from American Justin Thomas could shake off England’s Tommy Fleetwood in a compelling third round at the United States Open on Saturday.
Thomas became the first man in 117 editions of America’s national championship dating back to 1895 to shoot a round of nine under par – but that was still only good enough to be level with the gutsy Fleetwood at the end of play.
The 26-year-old from Southport, playing in just his second US Open, missed just one fairway all day in compiling a fine 68 that would have been still better but for an unfortunate bogey at the 18th. 
England's Tommy Fleetwood remained in contention for a maiden major title at the US Open
England's Tommy Fleetwood remained in contention for a maiden major title at the US Open
The 26-year-old from Southport finished on 11-under-par on Saturday
The 26-year-old from Southport finished on 11-under-par on Saturday
That was enough to leave him one shot off the lead at Erin Hills, which is held by Brian Harman
That was enough to leave him one shot off the lead at Erin Hills, which is held by Brian Harman
To think, when the US Amateur Championship was played at Erin Hills in 2011, the highly-touted Thomas was beaten in the fourth round by a Lancastrian, Jack Senior. A lucky omen for Fleetwood to take into the fourth round on Sunday, perhaps?
What a day we have in prospect, as Fleetwood takes on some of the finest young talent in American golf. Quiet American Brian Harman is the leader by a shot – and, having just turned 30, he’s the only man in the top six who isn’t in his twenties.
Right behind him are Fleetwood, Thomas and Brooks Koepka, with crowd favourite Rickie Fowler just two shots back after a 68. Also in with a chance are American Ryder Cup hero Patrick Reed and Si Woo Kim, the 21 year old Korean who became the youngest-ever winner of the Players Championship last month. Kim will start four behind, alongside American Charley Hoffman who, at 40, is not so much a veteran in this company as a pensioner.
Fleetwood is playing in only his second US Open but has looked fearless so far. He rolled in a 12ft birdie putt at the 12th and another at the 14th. At the driveable par four 15th he got a huge break when his only pulled drive all day missed the vicious fescue and landed on a walkway. He took full advantage, pitching to 6ft and holing the birdie putt.
Fleetwood had been tied for the lead after birdies on the first, eighth, 12th, 14th and 15th
Fleetwood had been tied for the lead after birdies on the first, eighth, 12th, 14th and 15th

Only at the 18th did he falter. Just short in two, he played a poor pitch that failed to reach a shelf in the green and came back towards him. He then putted clean off the green and down the steep slope at the back of the putting surface. He was facing all sorts of calamity, therefore, but showed enormous presence in playing a marvellous pitch to 6ft and holing the putt to restrict the damage to a bogey.
Thomas is Jordan Spieth’s best mate and showed he is some talent himself by tapping home an 8ft eagle putt at the 18th to complete an incredible round of 63. One bullet three wood on this mammoth 675 yard hole from the huge-hitting 24 year old was followed by another that might ultimately stand as the best shot played in this year’s tournament.
The flag was located just over a deep bunker but, from 299 yards, Thomas struck a blow he will always remember that just cleared the hazard and nestled close to the pin. What a moment this was on a day when so many took advantage of some uncharacteristically generous pin positions set by the United States Golf Association. Thomas’s was the 27th round of 63 seen in the four majors.
‘I knew 63 was the magic number in majors but it was a huge bonus to be told that no-one had shot a round of nine under par before in this championship,’ said Thomas, who showed his penchant for low scores when he compiled a 59 in the Sony Open in Hawaii in January. ‘What an honour to do something that’s never been done at a US Open. This is a moment I’ll always treasure.’
Only one man had ever shot a round of eight under par before, and that was Johnny Miller in the final round at Oakmont all the way back in 1973. But Reed had hinted that a really low number was on with a 65 earlier in the day that catapulted him into contention at four behind and paved the way for Thomas’s wonder effort.
Justin Thomas had a lengthy wait on the 18th to try and equal the lowest score at US Open
Justin Thomas had a lengthy wait on the 18th to try and equal the lowest score at US Open
The American sank an eagle on the 18th to card a nine-under-par 63 at Erin Hills on Saturday
The American sank an eagle on the 18th to card a nine-under-par 63 at Erin Hills on Saturday
The Kentucky native has spent his early years as a pro in Spieth’s shadow but has won three times on the PGA Tour in the last eight months and has the chance to step into the spotlight himself. ‘I know I am going to be incredibly nervous but I’m thrilled to have given myself a chance to win the event I consider the biggest in the game,’ he said.
As for the leader, no left hander has ever won the US Open and how ironic it would be if Harman managed it given all the palava concerning the game’s best-ever southpaw, Phil Mickelson, in the build-up.
On such an inviting day, Paul Casey couldn’t afford another triple bogey. He recovered from one on Friday but not this time, and the joint leader at halfway is now well back after a disappointing 75. 


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/golf/article-4614498/Tommy-Fleetwood-just-one-shot-lead-Open.html#ixzz4kKYo8oKo
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