England’s Matt Fitzpatrick and American Will Zalatoris, each chasing his first major title, shared the lead after Saturday’s third round of the US Open as brisk wind and brutal rough tormented golf’s top stars.
Fitzpatrick birdied three of the last five holes at The Country Club but a closing bogey left him level with Zalatoris, last month’s PGA Championship runner-up, on four-under par 206, one ahead of defending champion Jon Rahm after 54 holes.
“I knew it was going to play hard and I just needed to stay patient. I knew if I make an early bogey or two, don’t change the game plan, don’t try to get extra aggressive because that’s how you make a mess of it, ” said Zalatoris, last year’s Masters runner-up. He fired a three-under 67 while Fitzpatrick, the 2013 US Amateur winner at The Country Club, fired a 68.
“Wind was really strong. It made it tough. You had to be switched on with the way you were hitting it, where you were missing it, and I think that was why it was a great challenge. Really happy with my score,” Fitzpatrick said.
The Country Club bared its teeth in formidable conditions to humble world number two Rahm, four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, top-ranked Masters champion Scottie Scheffler and two-time major winner Collin Morikawa among others.
“It was one of the toughest days on a golf course I’ve had in a long time,” McIlroy said after a 73. “It was extremely difficult conditions, the wind being a little bit higher and stronger than the last few days, a different direction. Then the course being a little bit firmer, that’s just a recipe for difficulty, ” said Rahm.