BROOKLINE, Mass. -- A lot can happen on a Saturday at the U.S. Open, especially with a leaderboard as packed as this one. With a mix of big names and lesser-known ones, things got interesting on a cooler, windier day at The Country Club.
Defending champion Jon Rahm looked like he'd be heading into Sunday with a lead, but a disastrous final hole dropped him to merely third place at 3-under. He's only a single shot behind Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick, who both moved up double digit spots from Day 2 to share the lead at the end of the third round. Rory McIlroy shot a disappointing +3 on the day, but he's still within striking distance at 1-under.
Here's what happened on Saturday:
Stacked at the top
The PGA Tour is getting exactly what it wants -- and probably needs -- with a packed leaderboard of star power going into Sunday's final round at the 122nd U.S. Open at The Country Club. Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick have the co-lead at 4 under after 54 holes. But defending U.S. Open champion Jon Rahm, world No. 1 golferScottie Scheffler, Sam Burns, Rory McIlroy and others are within striking distance going into Sunday. -- Mark Schlabach
Unraveling on 18
Defending champion Jon Rahm went to the 18th hole at 5 under and in sole possession of the lead. Things took a turn for the worse when he struggled to clear the lip of a fairway bunker on 18. Two shots later, he was back in yet another bunker, with a buried lie. He walked away with a double bogey. He shot 71 on Saturday and enters the final round T-3.
Keegan Bradley getting some hometown support
Bradley was born in Vermont and lived in New Hampshire, before moving to Hopkinton, Massachusetts, about 25 miles west of Boston, before his senior year of high school.
"As a kid, I dream of playing in front of Boston fans and being a Patriot or being in the Garden," Bradley said. The 2011 PGA Championship winner is making the most of the support. He fired a 1-under 69 for the second straight round and is in serious contention to win his second major. Bradley called walking down 18 on Saturday "one of the most amazing moments of my entire life."
"I got to feel what it feels like to play in Fenway, to play in the Garden, to play in Gillette Stadium," he said "I felt like a Boston player there. That was a moment I'll never forget the rest of my life. I appreciate the fans giving me that, and I hope to have them cheer again [on Sunday]." -- Schlabach
Going for the fan favorite vote
Any kids in Boston looking for a last minute father's day gift? I've got two extra US Open final round tickets to give out. Comment below, why it should be you. Best answer wins...You can only follow my group though 😏🤪 @usopengolf— Min Woo Lee (@Minwoo27Lee) June 18, 2022
Rahm from the trees
Between the rock outcroppings and the thick fescue at the U.S. Open this week, we have seen our fair share of tough shots, but none have been as unique as the one Jon Rahm had to hit on the par-5 eighth hole Saturday. Rahm's ball ended up nestled underneath a tree.
Rahm tried to practice multiple types of swings -- left-handed, right-handed while standing on top of the tree trunk -- but ended up deciding to hit it backward with his right hand. The ball trickled out for fewer than 20 yards. Rahm smashed his next shot to the green but had to eventually settle for a bogey. -- Paolo Uggetti
From Casey Martin to Aaron Wise
Aaron Wise is in contention at the U.S. Open, and his rise in professional golf started at the end of the 2020-21 season, when he pulled an old putter out of his garage. It was the same one his golf coach at Oregon, Casey Martin, used when he qualified for the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic Club in San Francisco. Martin won a Supreme Court case against the PGA Tour for the use of a cart because of a birth defect that made it difficult for him to walk. Martin had part of his right leg amputated in October. Martin gave the putter to Wise while Wise was playing for the Ducks. He won an NCAA individual title and helped Oregon win its only national championship in 2016. He ranks 23rd in putting this week, gaining more than 3 strokes on the field. -- Schlabach
Scottie Scheffler from downtown
The wind is whipping
Here's what the leaders are facing at The Country Club, according to Denny McCarthy, who was among only a few players who shot under par so far today: "Firmer. Chillier temperatures. Wind out of the north-northwest. It played a little different. It tilted around a little bit where all the holes played a little bit different today. It required a little more thinking."
He said the 502-yard 10th hole was playing more like a par-5 than a par-4 because of 25 mph winds straight in players' faces. He said it was difficult to keep approach shots on No. 12 on the green because of the front pin placement. Even though McCarthy had a birdie on the par-4 13th, he said the hole was "brutal." "That might be a skin," he said. -- Mark Schlabach
But it's still spicy out there
Justin Thomas wasn't pleased after a USGA rules official denied him relief from a drain in the middle of the fairway on the fourth hole. His ball was inches to the right of the drain. He would have been granted relief if the drain had been affecting his stance or the line of his swing. After chunking his shot, Thomas let his frustration out in a, well, very colorful way. "That's what pisses me off, because so many other people would lie about being able to hit that, but it's just like, I'm not going to hit it. That's f---ing bulls---, man," Thomas said to caddie Jim "Bones" Mackay, before tossing his iron at his bag.
According to a USGA statement: "During the discussion, Justin was asked if the drain was going to interfere with his swing, to which he replied it was not. Because there was no interference from the drain, Justin was not provided relief. Rule 16.1a(1) states that interference from an immovable obstruction exists when the ball touches or is in or on the obstruction, or the obstruction physically interferes with the player's area of intended stance or area of intended swing. The Rule goes on to state that if the obstruction is close enough to distract the player but does not otherwise interfere, there is no relief under the Rule." -- Schlabach
Frustration on No. 4.pic.twitter.com/0YEm1abVGZ— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 18, 2022
The course at The Country Club is already playing much harder through the early Saturday wave than it had the first two days, so it felt like adding insult to injury when Hideki Matsuyama's second shot into the short par-4 fifth hole hit the flag on a bounce and rolled all the way back into the greenside bunker.
Matsuyama got up from the sand and back on the green, but the damage was done. What would have likely been a birdie to get him into red numbers turned into an unfortunate bogey that put him at 1 over. -- Uggetti
Moving Day at the 122nd U.S. Open might seem more like Grinding Day for the 64 players who survived the 36-hole cut. With winds picking up at The Country Club, and the USGA having its typical fun with pin placements on the weekend, players are having a very difficult time so far. According to the USGA, greens were rolling in the upper 12s and were double cut and rolled Saturday morning.
With more than half the field having started its round, only two players who have played at least nine holes -- Australia's Todd Sinnott and Denny McCarthy -- are under par. Several high-profile players, including Joaquin Niemann, Bryson DeChambeau, Tyrrell Hatton and Max Homa, are already 5 over or worse. -- Schlabach
Xander Schauffele isn't the only member of his team who will be attempting to battle back on Saturday. His father and coach, Stefan, is back out at The Country Club after being stung in the upper lip by a hornet. Probably not the stinger he had in mind in the windy conditions. -- Schlabach
The name game
Announcements on the first tee at this U.S. Open have not gone well. On Friday, Scott Stallings, who grew up in Worcester was introduced as being from "War-chester." It's actually pronounced "Woostah," and the locals let the guy who said it know about it. On Saturday, things got worse.
Justin Thomas is pretty famous. Just won the PGA Championship. Ranked fifth in the world. Simple, right? Nope. He was introduced as "Justin Thompson."
For accuracy's sake
At the U.S. Open, you pick your spots very carefully. Here's what the players will be staring at all day.
The money talks
Thanks to LIV Golf, the sport is talking a lot more about money these days. On Saturday morning, the USGA released the full purse breakdown for this week.
Let's start first with those who didn't make the cut. They each got $10,000 for the two days of work. Now, to the real money (keeping in mind that Charl Schwartzel took home $4.75 million for winning the first LIV event in London. The total payout is $17.5 million. Here is what a spot in the top 10 is worth:
1. $3.15 million
2. $1.89 million
3. $1.23 million
The player who finishes 60th will take home $36,852.