Justin Thomas of Goshen, Ky. smiles as he waves to the
crowd after sinking a putt for eagle on hole No. 18
Saturday afternoon during the third round of the U.S.
open golf tournament at Erin Hills in the town of Erin.
Photo by John Ehlke/Daily
slideshow of Day 3 of US Open Tournament
TOWN OF ERIN — The
roar from the grandstand perhaps reached the town of
After Justin Thomas'
eight-foot eagle putt on No. 18 Saturday, his
celebration was simple. Thomas fist-bumped caddie James
Johnson, and doffed his cap to the grandstand area as he
closed his third round of the 117th U.S.
His eagle cemented a
9-under-par 63, which is the lowest one-round score in
the history of the U.S. Open Championship. One might
expect a little more excitement — unless one is his
caddie, James Johnson.
“No he didn't did
he?” Johson replied when it was remarked Thomas had
little expression after the eagle. “I think he just
expects to make them.”
The 23-year caddie
who has been on the bag for two other 63s in his career
— Nick Price (1986 Masters) and Wisconsinite Steve
Stricker (2011 PGA Championship) — called Thomas' round
“I don't know other
words, but it's satisfying for sure,” Johnson said.
“Like you said, it's history. It hasn't been beaten.”
Brian Harman of Sea Island, Ga. tips his hat to the
crowd after finishing the third round of the U.S. open
golf tournament at Erin Hills in the town of Erin.
Photo by John Ehlke/Daily
In the end, however,
history wasn't enough to stand at the top on a day
dubbed “Moving Day” for a reason.
With many of the
world's top golfers out of the field, several
non-household names and up-and-comers took advantage of
softer conditions provided by overnight rain and an
absence of wind. The major's top 13 golfers range from
seven-under-par 209 to Brian Harman's 204, and the top
17 are at six-under 210 or better.
The biggest movement
up the leaderboard was by the 30-year-old Harman, who
weaved his way through a six-birdie, one-bogey round to
card a five-under-par 67 and fall to minus-12 (2-4) for
Harman also earned
his first major championship cut made Friday.
“So we're breaking
down all kinds of barriers,” Harman said of his day.
“I'm proud of the way I hung in there today. I got off
to a pretty good start, which I really haven't done yet,
so that was nice. Struck it well, had a couple putts
that could have gone that didn't, but had a bunch of
looks, hit a bunch of greens, and that's what you've got
to do to play well around here.”
Harman noted Thomas'
63 didn't really provide motivation or alter his
gameplan for the back nine.
played a great round, but he was two, two-and-a-half
hours before me,” Harman said. “The golf course can
change a lot, especially in an Open. So I didn't put any
expectations on myself after seeing how well he was
A slight sprinkle
hit hole No. 18 as the second to last group of Tommy
Fleetwood and Brooks Koepka made their way onto the
green. Both are in a second place tie with Thomas — all
three are at an 11-under 205 for the tournament.
came into the clubhouse with a minus-12. His long chip
shot attempt to get him onto the No. 18 green didn't get
up a ridge high enough, and spun backward. A second chip
from near the bottom of the ridge overshot the hole and
skittered off the green and down the slope behind it.
onto the green on what was his par-5 shot, then putted
in for a six.
“It was a good save,
though. It was a good bogey,” he said. “That fifth shot
on 18 was the best shot of the day.”
To that point,
Fleetwood had five birdies and was minus-5 for the day.
“I don't think I
could play any different or score any better than I have
done,” he said. “And you can't do anything about what
anybody else is doing. If somebody shoots 9-under
tomorrow in the top few then I'll have to shoot 10, I
guess. But you can't do anything about that stuff. I've
just got to keep going.”
Koepka had the same
attitude after he, too, shot a four-under-68.
“It's not easy by
any means, it's the U.S. Open,” he said. “But I played
“I've only hit
7-iron, that's the longest I've hit into any par-4. When
you're doing that, you've got to be able to put it on
the green. Some guys are hitting 4-iron into the greens,
and having a wedge and a 9-iron. I've got to put it
He put the ball
close enough to sink five birdies and offset a bogey on
the par-4 No. 3.
“I made two bad
swings on the front nine. I got in the hazard on one and
pulled the 4-iron on the par-3,” Koepka said. “If you do
that you're going to deserve a bogey out there. I felt
like I made a couple of good putts there coming in on 8
and 9, just didn't happen to go in. I'll take it.”
that multiple times after his round, a jaunt in which he
recorded nine birdies, including thre consecutive to
finsh his front nine and one on No. 17 to give him
momentum into the final hole.
He also registered
two bogeys, which were wiped away by the eagle.
“I knew I hit it
really well,” Thomas said of his second shot, which
reached the green. “I had 310 hole, but it was downwind
to where I knew if I hit it solid, I could definitely
get it there.”
Thomas' hand shook
slightly as he studied the green, and his putt.
“I just get a little
shaky and jittery on putts, and that's what happened on
(the par-5 hole) 15. Then I was so mad at myself for
that,” Thomas said of missing a birdie on that hole. “So
I could feel a little bit again (on 18), but I just
wanted to calm myself and just try to relax over that
There was also the
score to consider.
“I knew what it was
score-wise. I knew it was for 63,” Thomas said. “You've
got leaderboards everywhere, and for the most part you
usually have an idea what you're doing.
“I told Jimmy
walking up there once I found out we had a putt, I said
let's try to become a part of history here.... But I had
no idea in terms of 9-under being the best in the U.S.
It was, and is.
Thomas' eagle also
had him at the top of the leaderboard for nearly three
hours — until Harman's consistency (67-70-67) put him
second in U.S. Open 54-hole score history, behind Rory
McIlory's 14-under-par at the 2011 championship.
“I'm more motivated
by the fact that I've made a plan and I've stuck to the
plan so far,” Harman said. “Obviously I have no idea
what tomorrow holds, but I'm more motivated by the way
that I'm striking the ball. It's the best I've struck
the ball in a long time.
“And my short game
is pretty good. I've been putting it pretty good. So I'm
excited about all those things.”