The stage is set for a wild U.S. Open finish with Jon Rahm’s bid for a repeat title one of many riveting storylines going into the final round on Sunday where unseasonably cold and windy conditions are in store.
Rahm, who is one shot back of co-leaders Matt Fitzpatrick and Will Zalatoris, is scheduled to set off in the penultimate pairing alongside New England native Keegan Bradley at 2:34 p.m. ET (1834 GMT) at The Country Club outside Boston.
Masters champion and world number one Scottie Scheffler is part of a group sitting two shots back of the leaders while pre-tournament favourite and word number three Rory McIlroy is among a pack a further shot adrift.
Spanish world number two Rahm, who capped his third round with a double-bogey after his first shot from a fairway bunker hit the lip and rolled back toward him, is looking to become the eighth player to successfully defend a U.S. Open title.
Englishman Fitzpatrick, 27, will try to once again taste success on the same Brookline venue that launched his career having won the U.S. Amateur at The Country Club in 2013.
If Fitzpatrick can pull off the victory he would join golfing great Jack Nicklaus as the only players to win a U.S. Open and U.S. Amateur at the same venue and he feels his prior experience on the layout gives him an advantage.
“I certainly think it gives me an edge over the others, yeah. I genuinely do believe that,” Fitzpatrick said after the third round. “It’s a real, obviously, positive moment in my career. It kind of kickstarted me.”
Zalatoris, the PGA Tour’s reigning rookie of the year, has knocked on the door at majors before and will try to finally bust through after finishing runner-up at the 2021 Masters and last month’s PGA Championship where he lost in a playoff.
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“I think especially coming off the PGA it gave me a lot of belief and confidence that I belong in this situation,” said Zalatoris. “There’s a difference in thinking it and then actually being in the situation and believing it.”
Bradley will undoubtedly have plenty of support from the Boston crowd as he bids to become the first New Englander to win the U.S. Open since Connecticut native Julius Boros prevailed in a playoff in 1963 at The Country Club.
Players enjoyed glorious weather for the first two rounds but temperatures worsened on Saturday and the forecast is calling for continued gusting winds and chillier temperatures on Sunday that could creep into the low 60s Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius).
Each of the three previous U.S. Opens held at The Country Club required a playoff to determine a winner, the most recent in 1988, and with such a tightly-bunched leaderboard to start the final round extra holes might again be required.
Should there be a tie at the end of regulation, a two-hole aggregate playoff will take place immediately after the fourth round using the par-four first and par-four 18th holes. If still tied, the same holes will be used in a sudden-death format.