The wind at Erin Hills is finally expected to pick up for Sunday's final round, which could put a halt to all the record-setting scoring that's made the U.S. Open leaderboard look more like one at a regular PGA Tour stop.
A few moment after Leishman's troubles, American Thomas, already riding a brilliant round as he stood on the 18 fairway, hit the shot of the tournament - a 273m three-wood second shot at the par-five that landed on the front of the green, nearly hit the flag and stopped less than 3m behind the cup.
"I've felt like my game has been good enough to compete in the majors this year". He made birdie on the 12th out of waist-high hay.
Fleetwood picked up a victory in Abu Dhabi on the European Tour while Rickie Fowler, who will start two behind the pacesetter, is widely regarded as the current best golfer not to have won a major. Palmer shot a 65 after going into the final round trailing by seven shots. "I'd love to have another one of those". This is his third U.S. Open and it is the first time he has even made the cut. On one, a par 5, he was 85 feet short of the hole on his second shot and got the easy up and down. I was just trying to get a 4 and get out of there.
"It means I'm a part of history". That he could begin a Saturday stashed in 24th place alongside eight other golfers and bolt to the fore in his pink trousers on a rain-softened, light-winded course, did not seem all that outlandish. There were five players in double digits Saturday at Erin Hills. I have no idea what tomorrow is going to be like but I'm confident that I am prepared for whatever happens, whether something bad happens or something good happens. Who will separate himself from the rest and take his place in history? I'm not gonna lie, as a lefty, I'm rooting for Brian Harman, but I'm nervous about a guy who's sleeping on the lead alone Saturday night. A lot of them had to come from far back going into the weekend, and it was hard to put together two good rounds.
There are 15 players within seven strokes, so it's still a wide open tournament.
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"Sometimes you just have to play them (majors) until you get really comfortable".
"It's going to be weird", Thomas said about the time he has to pass before teeing off on Sunday.
As the only Australian left in the field, Marc Leishman raced up the leaderboard early on Saturday but three dropped shots on the back side to shoot 72 and stay at four under, sharing 17th. "It was downwind to where I knew if I hit it solid, I could definitely get it there".
"I've been there a handful of times and had some good finishes, but I'm looking forward to getting the job done".
Fowler, sharing a house with Thomas this week, was being left behind until he ran off three straight birdies and shot 68. If somebody shoots 9-under tomorrow in the top few then I'll have to shoot 10, I guess.
Sean Zak: Bold as this may seem, I'm going with Tommy Fleetwood.
Indeed, just about the only certainty is that the new champion will be a first-time major victor - only the best recent member of that exclusive club, Sergio Garcia, is in the top-20 here - the destination of the famously nameless trophy is up for grabs.