March 18 2018

Justin Thomas shoots 63, trails Brian Harman by 1 at US Open

March 18 2018, 05:19 | Sammy Rose

On Saturday, Justin Thomas tied the record for the best round at a major by shooting 63.

But the record-setting performance has him on the verge of his first major championship if he is able to build off the momentum he established in Saturday's third round.

Sunday, the final group at the U.S. Open, Justin Thomas is a shot back of leader Brian Harman and with a chance to win his first major in what could be a career of many. I'm not sure where the days of the 24- to 29-yard-wide fairways that we played every time went. Fleetwood was poised to take the lead until his pitch to the 18th wasn't strong enough and his next shot went beyond the flag and down the slope some 70 feet away.

Thomas' dramatics happened on the 18th when he hit his second-shot 3-wood more than 300 yards on the par-5, 667-yard finishing hole.

"Oh gosh, Jimmy, be good", he said to caddie Jimmy Johnson when the ball was in the air. He said, yeah, let's do it. That wasn't almost enough to put Stricker into title contention on the longest course in U.S. Open history, especially after the rain-softened greens led to a birdie-fest that pushed the third-round lead to 12-under par, but it did answer any questions about whether his game remains viable in a golfing world obsessed with youth and distance.

He became the fifth player to shoot 63 in a U.S. Open and the first player at 9 under.

He may not have the length off the tee the younger generation possesses, but that hasn't stopped the 50-year-old from competing on even terms with the long hitters, many of whom are half his age. Tom Weiskopf shot 75 after his and Vijay Singh shot 72 to follow his 63.

The USGA famously sets up its US Open courses for a victor scoring around even par, but the players have sneaked under the guard of the organisers this year. By the end of a wild and wide-open Saturday, five players were double digits under par.

The nine-under par round of 63 came 44 years to the day from the previous record - held by Johnny Miller, who shot an eight-under 63 at Oakmont. Tiger Woods, playing on a bad knee that would eventually require reconstructive surgery, sunk a 72nd-hole birdie putt to put him in first place alongside 45-year-old Rocco Mediate at Torrey Pines.

"It means I'm a part of history". But I'm just so excited to give myself a great chance to win this golf tournament.

"If someone shoots 9-under tomorrow in the top few (players), then I will have to shoot 10-under, I guess", Fleetwood said.

"It was definitely conducive for good scores today".

What we can nearly guarantee is that there will be a new Major victor crowned on Sunday evening, the nearest players to have won a Major to the leaders is Louis Oosthuizen and Sergio Garcia and they are eight shots back.

The 16th has been the easiest par 3 this week, while the par-4 17th has been the most hard hole on the course, twice playing to more than 520 yards. "I just get a little shaky and jittery on putts, and that's what happened". But it was getting dark and I wore colored glasses then.

Six players have shot 7-under this week, a U.S. Open record of its own.

US Open leader Brian Harman plays his second shot from the 17th fairway. Will we see a back-nine thrill ride on Sunday? I then hit a bad wedge shot.

Fleetwood, who was hoping to become the third English victor since 1924 after Tony Jacklin (1970) and Justin Rose (2013), began the day in a tie for second and made an encouraging start with a birdie from eight feet on the second.

Tommy Fleetwood (11), Brooks Koepka (11) and Rickie Fowler (10) were also in the double-digit club.

Thomas drained a putt on No. 5 which he literally started it in the wrong direction, and that, he said, wasn't even his best shot of the day.

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