Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Sport | By Scott Davis

Fleetwood, Harman trade birdies at 15 at US Open

Fleetwood, Harman trade birdies at 15 at US Open

We're all set for a quality, stacked final round on Sunday at the U.S. Open, but we won't have a single major victor in contention.

And he'll likely have to do it in a manner that most of the past winners of the big trophy rarely would have considered - by making birdies. The Open always has been defined by its length, narrow fairways, hard rough and fast greens. In fact, it's wide-open going into the final round.

Brian Harman has a one-shot advantage at 12 under atop a crowded leaderboard.

Fowler said he knew low scores would be attainable but was impressed by the U.S. Open record-setting round of nine-under carded by Justin Thomas, his friend and room mate this week. For me to go out and win when it was the first time playing the course does a lot for my confidence and my career. I'm sure I won't sleep in. "When you give us soft greens, good greens and not much wind, you know there are going to be some good scores".

It is almost impossible to predict because the competitors and their body of work offer no clear pattern.

Harman, who won the Wells Fargo championship last month, continued in his rich vein of form on Saturday, sinking six birdies.

The prospects of a seventh consecutive first-time major victor. He has missed the cut five times at majors.

At 30, Harman isn't quite in the growing pack of young players taking the PGA over, but the Georgian turned in a -5 67 on Saturday to get to -12 for the tournament and enter Sunday with the lead. It was the lowest third-round score in Open history.

Harman credits the low scoring on the setup of the golf course. It has Rickie Fowler at 10 under par, the onrushing 21-year-old South Korean Si Woo Kim at 9 under par, three players including Ryder Cup whiz Patrick Reed at 8 under par, after Reed shot 65 then got upstaged.

One of them is likely to prevail, and might do so in dramatic fashion. "And secondly, Erin Hills isn't exactly Oakmont". So far, there have been 49 rounds in the 60s. Going into the final round, 42 players were still under par.

Fleetwood, who tied for 27th in his only previous U.S. Open in 2015, has moved the ball smoothly through the long, links-style layout, illustrated by his average of just 1.54 putts per hole, tied for fifth-best in the tournament.

"There's definitely some opportunity", said Koepka, who has one PGA Tour victory.

"I'm looking forward to hearing about that when I get back to the house since J.T. and I are staying together", said Fowler. That back nine really suits my eye. "I feel like my game has been good enough to compete in the majors this year", Thomas said. The venues typically produce a level of grumbling that has not been heard this week.

But birdies will be harder to come by on Sunday with winds gusting from 25-30 miles per hour (40-48 kph), bending flag sticks and moving balls over hardening greens. Still, it was encouraging for Stricker to get his best weapon - his putter - going on the back side. This promises to be different, a shootout perhaps, but no less stressful.

"It was obviously an awesome day", he said on Saturday.

"My concentration was so good that day that I caught myself immediately every time I began to think ahead". Such is the nature of a leaderboard void of major championship trophies.

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