Moving Day at the 2017 U.S. Open was marked by risk and reward. Throughout Saturday’s third round at Erin Hills, players took aim at reachable greens to set up eagle opportunities. Overnight rain provided some soft conditions favorable for scoring, but mishits left plenty of balls in the sand or thick rough on the course’s risk-reward holes. If you were dialed in, you could go low, and no one was more in the zone than Justin Thomas.
Thomas’ record-breaking 63 was clinched on No. 18 when he fired a 3-wood right at the pin and stuck it to set up an eagle putt that he walked in. He finished the round at 9 under and moved into what was then the lead at 11 under. His round followed another big move from Patrick Reed on the back of a 65, and by the end of the day, nearly a dozen players would shoot 68 or better to make a move up the leaderboard.
So now we head into Sunday with a crowded group at the top that includes no major champions but several world-class players. Here’s how that leaderboard looks after 54 holes:
1. Brian Harman (-12): Having the 30-year-old two-time PGA Tour winner (most recently at the Wells Fargo Championship last month) at the top of the leaderboard is a tribute to the consistency he’s shown through the week. Saturday’s 67 matches his score from the opening round, and throughout he’s been doing a great job of laying back with a below-field-average driving distance and relying on his accuracy firing into the greens. “I hit it far enough,” Harman joked after the round during his Fox Sports interview. “I’ll just play my game, go out there tomorrow and see how it goes.”
T2. Justin Thomas (-11): Thomas’ 59 from earlier in the year showed he can go low, but Saturday’s round didn’t feel like a one-off. He walked in a birdie on No. 9 for a front side 31 then topped it with an eagle on 18 for a back side 32 and the new U.S. Open single-round record relative to par (-9). If this weekend doesn’t end up being J.T.’s time to win a major, I think Erin Hills has showed us that his time is coming soon.
T2. Brooks Koepka (-11): If there’s a player to bet on coming down the stretch, it might be Koepka and his bogey-free 10-under aggregate score across three trips through the second nine. Koepka birdied the 18th to move just one pace off the lead after hitting 12-of-14 fairways and 15-of-18 greens in regulation.
T2. Tommy Fleetwood (-11): There were a few bad approach shots that could have derailed Fleetwood on Saturday, but the young Englishman seemed to catch all the right bounces. And when he didn’t, he bounced back with masterful recoveries. While his championship resume is largely unproven, his comfort at this course is obvious. Though 54 holes, Fleetwood is top-10 in the field in fairways hit (86 percent) and greens in regulation (78 percent).
5. Rickie Fowler (-10): He’s not the favorite in the eyes of the oddsmakers anymore, but Fowler still might be the man to beat. He tore up the golf course for two days before really having to grind his way through a 34-out, 34-in score of 68. Fowler finished with six birdies and just two bogeys but hit only 8-of-14 fairways and 11-of-18 greens in regulation. If that gets cleaned up and his putter continues to be trusty (as it has all week), Fowler can win this thing.
6. Si Woo Kim (-9): There was a moment on the front side where the 21-year-old recent Players champ could have ejected, probably somewhere between the No. 6 green and No. 7 tee after his second bogey in three holes. But Si Woo held it together, birdied No. 7 and No. 8 and held it together to post a bogey-free 33 on the second nine.
T7. Patrick Reed (-8): Until Thomas posted his 63, Reed had one of the best rounds of the tournament with a 65 that included four birdies in five holes on the back nine. The fiery American has been wearing his Ryder Cup pants all week (he will again Sunday) and is putting better than anyone in the field. Reed got out and in on Saturday with just 23 putts, including a three-jack on the 18th.
T7. Russell Henley (-8): While records were being broken and the leaderboard continued to push the pace deeper into the red numbers, Henley flew below the radar with a stellar 67 to move into the top 10. Henley’s bogey-free round included hitting 16-of-18 greens in regulation and four birdies on the back nine.
T7. Charley Hoffman (-8): Things started to get a little shaky for Hoffman during the final nine holes of the day (two birdies, three bogeys), making his otherwise impressive 68 seem like a struggle. If Hoffman can capture the mojo of that five-birdie start without the late missteps he might be able to make a run on Sunday.
T10. Bill Haas, Brendan Steele, Brandt Snedeker, Xander Schauffele (-7): This group probably won’t have a chance to make a run at the title given the pace of the leaders, but future exemptions and prize money will be on the line with some big names like Hideki Matsuyama and Sergio Garcia just a few strokes out of the top 10.
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