Brooklyn, Mass. ( Associated Press) — Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitzparik emerged well from disaster in a brutal round on Saturday for what will be their last day of existence.
Zalatoris, who lost in a three-hole playoff at the PGA Championship last month, had just one bogey, quite a feat on a day when the Brookline course was a tough beast to tame.
The Californian signed a card of 67 hits, three under par.
“I think I shot 61,” said Zalatoris. “Whenever I made a mistake, I miraculously managed to escape.”
Fitzpatrick, who is already champion at The Country Club with his win at the US Amateur in 2013, also looked steady and got three birdies in the last five holes for 68.
This will be the second time in a row the last group of a major.
The most important thing is that he did not put a single double bogie.
This was the reason why defending champion Jon Rahm fell from the top on the last hole. The Spaniard thought he had seen it all, including a backhand shot from the root of a tree on the eighth hole, when he had to make three attempts with two nets of sand.
Rahm’s first shot from the fairway trap hits an edge and rolls almost to the tee. The next one found a half-pressed ball near the edge of the bunker next to the green.
Two puts later he was given the card of 71 strokes. He went from a shot advantage to a hit shortfall.
Rahm was upset with his swing on the last hole. He said it was getting dark and he didn’t notice that the ball had sunk into the sand.
The USGA arranged for the final group tour to begin at 3:45 p.m. so that it could be viewed by a larger television audience.
Despite everything, Rahm didn’t want to complain and preferred to look ahead.
“I have 18 holes to come and I’m only one shot down,” he said. “that’s what matters”.
Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick have a combined 206 strokes, four under par. This is the same 54-hole leaderboard that was recorded in 1988, the last time the US Open was held at The Country Club.
Colombian Sebastián Muoz was the best Latin American after two equals, after a round of 69 hits and a total of 212.