Zalatoris, Fitzpatrick Share U.S. Open Lead Heading Into Final Round

BROOKLINE, Mass. — The U.S. Open often 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 outdoors Boston.

With an under-par rating a rarity, the highest of Saturday’s third spherical leaderboard was overhauled ceaselessly. In the long run, 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 in opposition to 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 facet of the golf green. Rahm’s first try and 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, partially as a result of it was getting darkish.

“I had a 9-iron in hand, that’s lots to recover from that lip,” he mentioned. “Perhaps I used to be making an attempt to get too cute — on the lookout for one other birdie.

“Nevertheless it doesn’t actually matter a lot,” Rahm added. “I’m content material the place I’m and pleased with how I performed.”

Three golfers have 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 an excellent 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 suitable of the 18th fairway, he landed in a hall between a grandstand and one other short-term construction.

Although 224 yards away from the opening, 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 in opposition to Justin Thomas, and he completed second on the 2021 Masters Match. 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 do know I’m going to get one,” he mentioned after this 12 months’s P.G.A. Championship. “It’s only a matter of time.”

However Zalatoris is aware of the battle in opposition to the Nation Membership’s devilish, decades-old challenges is not going to be received, solely survived.

“The golf course takes a lot self-discipline and endurance,” he mentioned on Saturday night. “That was the toughest golf course that I’ve ever performed. It’s simply really easy to compound errors out right here. In fact, you are able to do that in main championships usually, however particularly this one.”

Zalatoris paused briefly, nodded his head, then repeated: “Particularly this one.”

Matching Zalatoris with a powerful again 9 was Fitzpatrick, who received the 2013 U.S. Beginner on the Nation Membership. Fitzpatrick, who was tied for second coming 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 harder 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 via 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 ft downhill previous the opening led to a double bogey. Two flubbed chips on the following gap price Scheffler one other stroke to par. Improbably, that turned the primary of three consecutive bogeys that noticed Scheffler tumble from his perch on the high of the leaderboard.

Solely two golfers within the area who performed in final week’s inaugural LIV Golf occasion made the minimize to qualify for this weekend’s last 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 residence after the opening two rounds have 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 nicely.

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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