BROOKLYN, Mass. (AP) — Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick avoided the carnage and disaster that took golf’s best Saturday at the US Open, setting the tone for the final day of survival.
Zalatoris, who lost in a three-hole playoff at the PGA Championship last month, scored only one bogey for 3-under 67—a staggering feat on a beast of the Brookline course.
“It felt like I shot 61,” said Zalatoris. “Whenever I made a mistake I got away with it or was able to do something miraculous.”
Fitzpatrick, already a champion at The Country Club with his US Amateur title in 2013, was equally steady and ran three birdies in his final five holes for 68. He will be in the final group of a Major for the second time in a row.
The most important thing is that he did not do any double bogey.
That put defending champion Jon Rahm out of the lead on the final hole. The Spaniard thought he had seen it all – including a shot he played back-handed from the base of a tree on the eighth hole – when he took three swipes from the sand in two bunkers.
Rahm’s first shot from the fairway bunker hit his lip and nearly rolled into his footprint. His next shot found a closed lie in a green bunker, and two putts later he had a 71 and went from one forward to one behind.
Rahm was not bothered by his swing on the last hole. In any case, he said it was getting dark and he didn’t see his ball sitting in the sand. The USGA departed the final group at 3:45 p.m. to maximize television exposure.
Rahm was looking ahead instead of what he had left behind.
“I have 18 holes, and I’m only a shot back,” he said. “That’s the important thing.”
Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick were at 4-under 206, the same score of a 54-hole lead when the US Open was last held at The Country Club in 1988.
It is not that Rahm had all the right of leadership. It was so wild this Saturday at Brookline that Rahm was among eight players who at some point had at least some share of the lead. Three of them didn’t even make the top 10, including two-time major champion Colin Morikawa.
Morikawa, who shared a 36-hole lead with Joel Dahman, had double bogeys on the seventh and 13th holes, and could have been third after a fractured wedge at No. 4, except he made a 25-foot putt for the bogey. was. He scored 77 runs.
Masters champion Scotty Scheffler was not immune. The world No. 1 player seemed to hold back when he hit a nail from about 80 yards to the eagle on a par-5 eighth.
He was under 6 and was cruising until his nail hit the green and deep rough on a back pin on the 141-yard 11th hole. He took two to the green and the two putts were not advancing until later. And it got worse as only three straight bogeys and he scored 71 runs.
Seven of the top 12 players who went on Saturday made at least one double bogey in strong wind and cold temperatures, making this sweater season in June.
Rory McIlroy was not on that list. His bleed was slow, mostly from a putter who was not behaving. He made a birdie in his round of 73.
All that, and this US Open was far from being decided.
“It was one of the toughest days on the golf course that I’ve had in a long time,” McIlroy said. “I just needed to grind it out, and I did it on the last nine. I thought it was a really good effort to play that back nine even today. Just put myself in the tournament. That’s all I’m trying to do.” It was happening. Just keep getting confused.”
Twenty-three players were equal to go to the third round. Only nine left with 18 holes remaining, they all fell apart by three shots.
It includes a local star—maybe not the Francis Oumet variety, but Keegan Bradley is big enough in Beantown that he heard his name loud and proud as he headed to the 18th green. A former PGA champion, he called it “probably the highlight of my entire life.”
He gave them a reason to be happy. From three overs to seven holes, Bradley responded with passion and birdies, five of them replying for 69s in his final 11 holes.
He was two shots behind Adam Hadwin (70) and Schaeffler. McIlroy was three times with Sam Burns (71) and Dehmann, who did not make a birdie in his round of 74, but remained in the game as he had made no major mistakes.
The average score was 73.5 and only seven players broke par. Denny McCarthy cuts the number to a 3-over par. He completed 68 years even before he reached the leader’s course. By the end of the day, he was in 11th place, five shots behind.
The US Open played out the same in every way.
“I knew it was going to be tough,” Dahman said. “I didn’t know it would be so hard.”
More AP Golf: More