The U.S. Open: Sunday Drama

Posted by: mike June 19th, 2017

by Steve Trivett

 

This is golf theater at its best.

The U.S. Open has had its share of high drama.

It’s also had a cast of characters – the greatest characters in the game.

Francis Ouimet, Bob Jones and Walter Hagen made it important first.

Ben Hogan owned for two decades.

Arnold Palmer won it in spectacular fashion in ’60 and Jack Nicklaus won his first over Arnie in a playoff in ’62.

Then Tom Watson and Lee Trevino both snatched the trophy from Nicklaus’ hands – with spectacular play and spectacular shots.

Tiger Woods won it three times in an eight-year span.

But there has never been a U.S. Open as open as this U.S. Open.

JUMPUS Open

Brian Harman has the lead going into today’s final round after he shot 67 Saturday.

Justin Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood and Brooks Koepka are a shot back. On Saturday, Thomas shot 63 – that’s right – tying the lowest score ever recorded at a U.S. Open. Fleetwood and Koepka both carded 68.

Rickie Fowler, who had 65 in Thursday’s opening round, shot 68 Saturday to stand two back going into today.

Si Woo Kim, attempting to become the first man from Asia to win the U.S. Open at the ripe old age of 21, is another shot back after 68.

Patrick Reed, Charlie Hoffman and Russell Henley are four behind Harman with 18 holes remaining.

All of that means this:

The top nine players on the leaderboard when the sun comes up this morning are separated by just four shots.

Those same top nine players on the leaderboard when the sun set over Erin Hills on Saturday combined to shoot 46-under on a day that has always been called moving day.

By the way, none of them have ever won a major championship before.

One of those nine should win come today – and it will change their lives forever.

For when you are a U.S. Open champion, people remember your name – the same way we remember players like Andy North and Lee Janzen who are only remembered by the masses because they won the U.S. Open twice each.

There is also a very good chance that the winner is going to be a twenty-something – Hoffman, who is 40, is the only player among the top nine who has seen 30 candles on his birthday cake.

And while some of those names are not well known – Fowler and Reed are probably the two biggest exceptions – they have outlasted all of the biggest names in the current game across three rounds at Erin Hills – the longest course in U.S. Open history.

Because these players have no fear – they play like they grew up watching guys like Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.

And that’s because they did.

They hit 380-yard drives, 320 yard 3-woods and 220-yard 6-irons.

They can get it up-and-down from a ball washer.

They stroke 50-foot putts that roll so true and pure they would have gone into a thimble.

And now they will face the hardest day they have ever faced on a golf course.

And today they could see a golf course they haven’t seen so far this week as the weather forecast calls for higher winds.

The final round of any U.S. Open is always special.

This one could be even more special.

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Steve is a long time veteran golf writer. He's already on the far side of 70 - which explains how Steve Trivett started covering the PGA Tour in 1963. He's an award-winning journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette Telegraph, The late great Rocky Mountain News and The Villages Daily Sun. He once carried a single-digit handicap, but his ball striking finally reached the depth of his putting prowess.