Zalatoris, Fitzpatrick share US Open lead as course bares teeth

American Will Zalatoris lets go of his club as he plays his second shot on the eighth hole on the way to a share of the third-round lead of the US Open

England’s Matt Fitzpatrick and American Will Zalatoris, each chasing his first major title, shared the lead after Saturday’s third round of the US Open as brisk wind and brutal rough tormented golf’s top stars.

Fitzpatrick birdied three of the last five holes at The Country Club but a closing bogey left him level with Zalatoris, last month’s PGA Championship runner-up, on four-under par 206, one ahead of defending champion Jon Rahm after 54 holes.

Zalatoris, also last year’s Masters runner-up, fired at three-under 67 while Fitzpatrick, the 2013 US Amateur winner at The Country Club, fired at 68.

The Country Club bared its teeth in formidable conditions to humble world number two Rahm, four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, top-ranked Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and two-time major winner Collin Morikawa among others.

Fitzpatrick can match Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win the US Amateur and Open on the same course, Nicklaus doing it at Pebble Beach.

Fitzpatrick found a bunker at 18 and missed a 21-foot par putt while Zalatoris escaped a bunker to five feet and parred 18.

Spaniard Rahm stumbled with early bogeys, one at the par-5 eighth after his tee shot landed behind a tree, but birdied the par-5 14th, sank a 29-foot birdie putt at 15 and birdied 17 only for the unrelenting course to strike again.

“It was extremely difficult conditions, the wind being a little bit higher and stronger than the last few days, a different direction,” Rahm said. “Then the course being a little bit firmer, that’s just a recipe for difficulty.”

Scheffler shared fourth on 208 after a roller coaster 71 alongside fellow American Keegan Bradley and Canada’s Adam Hadwin.

“I ended up with double. After that I didn’t really play that bad. I just made three bogeys in a row,” Scheffler said. “It’s just US Open. Things happen like that, and they happen quickly.”

Third-ranked McIlroy hardened nightmare putting to share seventh on 209 with Americans Sam Burns and Joel Dahmen.

“I just needed to grind it out,” McIlroy said. “To play that back nine at even par was a really good effort. Just kept myself in the tournament.”

The top final-round victory comeback in US Open history was in 1960 when Arnold Palmer rallied from seven strokes down to win at Cherry Hills.

Originally published as Zalatoris, Fitzpatrick share US Open lead as course bars teeth


Leave a Comment