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gpolit.com June 25, 2017


Fleetwood riding momentum at US Open: McGinley

19 June 2017, 02:03 | Ken Black

The American posted nine-under-par round of 63 in Wisconsin, the lowest score in relation to par in the 122-year history of the US Open.

The low-scoring sets up a wide open final Sunday, with the world's top three ranked players - No.1 Dustin Johnson, No.2 Rory McIlroy and No.3 Jason Day - all missing the cut on Friday. "But it isn't a U.S. Open course that I'm familiar with the way it was set up". Louis Oosthuizen and Sergio Garcia, who are tied for 17th at -4, are the major winners in the best position through the first three rounds.

Koepka is playing with Tommy Fleetwood, one group ahead of Harman and Justin Thomas. Most Open courses are par 70 or 71.

Former British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa and twice major victor Zach Johnson showed that birdies were still available at rain-softened Erin Hills. It led to an eagle to close out his 63.

Koepka had the lead until he turned a birdie chance into a bogey on the par-5 first hole after making the turn.

"It would be nice to see the course dry out a little bit and just make it to where it's going to take a quality round of golf", he said.

In the 116 previous U.S. Opens, only six players had ever reached 10-under par or better, never in the same tournament. And he wasn't through. At that point, he was leading by seven shots. Then Gil Morgan did it at Pebble Beach.

As well as Thomas, compatriot Patrick Reed was one of the biggest early movers, surging up the field with a dazzling round that included four birdies on the front nine against one bogey. Sometimes it's just your day, and his calm celebration after draining the shot is the cherry on top.

"It was a good bogey though", joked Fleetwood, who regained his composure to hit a superb pitch from well below the putting surface.

Reed was nearly as good, shooting a 7-under 65 to get to 8-under for the tournament.

"Usually when you shoot even in a U.S. Open and you're one off the lead, you're not six down afterward", J.B. Holmes said.

The course had been softened by rain earlier in the week, and it finally played the way the USGA wanted in the final round. One example of that was Fowler hitting 3-wood into the green on the 632-yard 18th hole, with a breeze at his back.

The tournament was such a slog that it didn't finish 72 holes until Monday. I was happy it stayed benign for us, and I capitalized on it.

"I told (caddie) Jimmy (Johnson) walking up there once I found out we had a putt, I said 'Let's try to become a part of history here.' He said, 'Yeah, let's do it, '" a delighted Thomas said afterwards.

Harman has a lot of spunk, though, and that victory got him high enough into the world ranking to secure a spot in the U.S. Open. If those players simply shoot par Sunday, and soft conditions seem likely again, that obliterates the combined par-smashing of every U.S. Open since 1895. A mere hiccup. On Saturday, he got to 14 under, then on Sunday, he widened the gap versus par to 16 under.

Harman, bidding to become the first left-hander to win a U.S. Open, is a victor on the PGA Tour this year while Thomas is the world number 13, a three-time victor this season and a member of the exclusive "59" club after breaking 60 at the Sony Open this year.



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