U.S. Open: Zalatoris, Fitzpatrick share lead into final day at Brookline

By Sports Desk June 18, 2022

Will Zalatoris and Matthew Fitzpatrick share the lead coming into the final round at the U.S. Open, finishing a tough Saturday on four-under par at Brookline.

Only nine players at this third major of the year have scores under par after 54 holes at the Country Club, and the tied lead between Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick only came after Jon Rahm's dreadful final hole in overcast and blustery conditions.

The world number two had the outright lead coming into his final hole on moving day, but three consecutive bunker shots and a two-putt led to a double-bogey on the par-four 18th and three-under after 54.

Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick have not won as professionals in the United States, with the former agonisingly finishing second at the 2021 Masters and this year's PGA Championship.

With Zalatoris finishing his round earlier in the day, Rahm finished as the conditions further cooled, placing particular difficulty on the approach to the green with club selection.

A visibly frustrated Rahm was able to compensate with some exceptional putting on the back nine, however, sinking a long birdie putt on the 14th to put him level with the two leaders. Three birdies between 14 and 17 were undone by the last hole, however.

Scottie Scheffler recovered from a double-bogey and three consecutive bogeys between 11 and 14 to finish Saturday on two-under, securing a birdie on the 17th before a massive par save on the last after hitting the bunker.

The usually stoic Scheffler did not hide his emotions with a triumphant fist-pump after the save, which left the world number one tied with Adam Hadwin and Keegan Bradley.

Joel Dahmen and Collin Morikawa fell down the leaderboard after opening Saturday with the lead on five-under. Morikawa's natural left-to-right game particularly suffered, shooting a seven-over 77.

Dahmen is joined on one-under by Sam Burns and Rory McIlroy, who only made seven greens in regulation but stayed in contention with a string of saves on the back nine.


Shot of the day

After two birdies and a bogey through his first seven holes, Scheffler really shone on the eighth.

His stunning eagle on the par-five hole saw him leap into a two-shot lead at the summit of the leaderboard.

Player of the day - Will Zalatoris

In a day characterised by survival in blustery conditions at Brookline, Will Zalatoris was one of the few on Saturday who thrived.

His ball-striking shone on an overcast day, scoring only one bogey as the rest of the field struggled to find the green.


Chipping in

Zalatoris: "Yeah, that was brutal. When I made a mistake, I made sure I was on the fat side of the green or having room where I could maybe at least chip one up there from eight to 10 feet."

Scheffler: "There's a lot of trees on this golf course, and it's gusty as well. So it's definitely unpredictable. I think that's what happens when you get these foresty golf courses, and then with the gusts, I mean, that little golf ball is just getting thrown around all over the place." 


A little birdie told me...

- Victory on Sunday would see Fitzpatrick emulate Jack Nicklaus, winning the U.S. Open at the same course he won the U.S. Amateur, after beating Oliver Goss at the Country Club in 2013.

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    Jon Rahm has brushed off Brooks Koepka’s claim that he acted like a child at the Ryder Cup by saying it was not even “low-level ‘Jon’ anger”.

    Koepka accused the Spaniard of displaying immature behaviour and pouting during the dramatic closing stages of their opening-day fourballs encounter in Rome on Friday.

    Rahm registered two eagles in the final three holes as he and playing partner Nicolai Hojgaard twice came from behind to claim half a point for Europe against American duo Koepka and Scottie Scheffler.

    Referring to an incident after the US pair won the 17th hole to move one up, Koepka said after the match: “We birdied 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and lost two (holes). So, yes, I want to hit a board and pout just like Jon Rahm did.

    “But, you know, it is what it is. Act like a child. But we’re adults. We move on.”

    Rahm did not deny the incident when asked about it on Saturday but played down its seriousness.

    He said: “I am not going to stand here and say I am a perfect example of what to do on a golf course. I play and compete the way I think I need to play and compete.

    “I am not happy I left a 10-footer short on 17 to possibly tie the hole, and going up to the tee I let out some frustration hitting a board sideways. I kept walking. That was it.

    “Brooks thinks that’s childish. It is what it is. He is entitled to think what he thinks. I don’t know what else to say but I am very comfortable with who I am and what I do.

    “I have done much worse on a golf course, so that doesn’t even register to a low level of ‘Jon’ anger on a golf course.”

    The fightback by Rahm and Hojgaard capped a superb first day for Europe which they ended 6.5-1.5 ahead and they celebrated exuberantly.

    Rahm believes Koepka’s remarks probably came out of frustration.

    He said: “I’ve never had an issue with Brooks. I don’t know now, but up until yesterday afternoon I thought we had a pretty good relationship.

    “Listen, had I seen somebody make the putt on 18 the way I did, I would not have been the happiest of people either.

    “Clearly there was a little bit of luck involved with that but it is match play. I think we saw plenty of the opposite when we were at Whistling Straits two years ago.”

    Rahm was back in action in the foursomes with Tyrell Hatton on Saturday morning and the pair beat Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele 2&1. They were both then rested in the afternoon.

    Rahm said: “As a competitor you want to keep going but we had a couple players finish early that had been better rested.

    “It’s mentally draining and (captain) Luke (Donald) has to do whatever he thinks is best.”

  • Europe within five points of Ryder Cup glory after Scheffler and Koepka hammered Europe within five points of Ryder Cup glory after Scheffler and Koepka hammered

    World number one Scottie Scheffler and five-time major winner Brooks Koepka suffered a humiliating record defeat as Europe moved to within five points of regaining the Ryder Cup in Rome.

    The American pair were five over par for the first three holes as they crumbled to a 9&7 defeat by Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg, the largest margin of victory in any 18-hole match in the event’s history.

    Scheffler was pictured fighting back tears and being comforted by his wife Meredith as the enormity of the loss sank in, the previous biggest margin being 7&6.

    The PA news agency understands Scheffler was keen to be given the chance to make amends in the afternoon fourballs, but was left out by US captain Zach Johnson.

    The only bright spot of the morning session for the visitors came when Max Homa and Brian Harman secured a first win of the contest, the former chipping in for an eagle on the 16th to see off Shane Lowry and Sepp Straka 4&2.

    However, moments later Rory McIlroy and Tommy Fleetwood completed a hard-fought victory over Justin Thomas and Jordan Spieth, the Northern Irishman holing the winning putt from 12 feet on the 17th to secure his third point.

    “Last night we talked about enjoying what we did yesterday but coming out and showing no mercy today and the way Ludvig and Viktor started off set the tone,” McIlroy said.

    “I’m delighted to get another point on the board for Europe.”

    Jon Rahm and Tyrrell Hatton also had to work hard to secure their second victory together when they lost three holes in a row to Patrick Cantlay and Xander Schauffele to be pegged back to all square.

    However, Hatton’s birdie putt on the 16th edged them in front again and Rahm then came agonisingly close to making a hole-in-one on the 17th.

    Cantlay responded with an excellent tee shot of his own, but Schauffele’s birdie attempt from three feet caught the edge of the hole and span out.

    That made the overall score 9.5 to 2.5 and meant Europe needed just five points from the remaining 16 for victory.

    Europe captain Luke Donald had warned his side to be wary of the US players reacting like “a wounded animal” as they looked to overturn a record-equalling five-point deficit, but the only wounds on show from Scheffler and Koepka were entirely self-inflicted.

    Hovland and Aberg were one over par for the first three holes but won them all, the Americans making a double bogey on the first, a bogey on the second and another double bogey on the third.

    Aberg was then inches away from a hole-in-one on the fourth, another birdie on the sixth took the European pair five up and with both American players struggling badly it was only a matter of time before they were put out of their misery.

    Hovland was full of praise for his partner, who only turned professional in June and was given a wild card after winning the final qualifying event.

    “He’s a stud,” Hovland said. “He doesn’t miss a shot, so it’s easy when I’m playing well and he’s playing well and we are just feeding off each other.”

  • Scottie Scheffler reduced to tears after crushing defeat by Europe at Ryder Cup Scottie Scheffler reduced to tears after crushing defeat by Europe at Ryder Cup

    World number one Scottie Scheffler was reduced to tears after slumping to a humiliating record loss on day two at the Ryder Cup in Rome.

    The American was pictured apparently crying after he and playing partner Brooks Koepka, a five-time major winner, were thrashed 9&7 by European duo Viktor Hovland and Ludvig Aberg in the Saturday morning foursomes.

    It was the largest margin of defeat in an 18-hole match in the competition’s history. The Americans failed to win a single hole and only broke par once in the 11 played.

    The defeat compounded the misery for the visiting team at Marco Simone after they ended the first day trailing 6.5-1.5.

    It also came after Koepka vented his frustration after Friday’s play, accusing European linchpin Jon Rahm of acting “like a child” after a dramatic comeback victory in the fourballs.

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