BROOKLINE: England’s Matt Fitzpatrick and American Will Zalatoris shared the lead as Sunday’s final round of the US Open began with Jon Rahm, Scottie Scheffler and Rory McIlroy poised to pounce.
A closing drama was expected at The Country Club, where Fitzpatrick won a 2013 US Amateur crown. Only legend Jack Nicklaus has won US Open and US Amateur titles on the same course.
Zalatoris, like the Englishman seeking his first major title, was a runner-up last month at the PGA Championship, losing a playoff to Justin Thomas, and in last year’s Masters.
Both stood on 4-under par 206 after 54 holes and were set for a 2:45 p.m. (1845 GMT) start over the intimidating 7,254-yard layout with major champions lurking just behind.
Defending champion Rahm, the world number two from Spain, was one back on 3-under after a closing double bogey in Saturday’s third round.
Rahm could become only the second non-US player to win consecutive US Opens after Scotsman Willie Anderson took three from 1903-1905.
World number one Scheffler, the reigning Masters champion, seeks his fifth title and second major of the year.
He was two adrift on 2-under, sharing fourth with fellow American Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner, and Canada’s Adam Hadwin, the 18-hole leader.
Scheffler, trying to match Tiger Woods as the only world number ones to win the US Open, would be the first to manage the US Open-Masters double since Jordan Spieth in 2015.
He would become just the seventh to achieve that feat, joining a list that includes Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Nicklaus.
Entering the round sharing seventh on 1-under were third-ranked McIlroy, a four-time major winner chasing his first major victory since 2014, and Americans Sam Burns and Joel Dahmen.
McIlroy struggled with putting in brisk winds Saturday, making three bogeys with a short birdie putt miss in the first six holes. But he still managed to be among the nine players below par entering the last 18 holes.
The 33-year-old from Northern Ireland won last week’s PGA Canadian Open and could become the first player since 1934 to win the week before and then capture the US Open.
Saudi-backed LIV Golf Series players faced US PGA Tour members for the first time this week after the US Golf Association decided not to ban rebels despite the PGA Tour suspending 17 who played last week’s LIV Golf debut event in England.
Only four LIV Golf players made the cut and LIV talent was a combined 103-over par through three rounds.
Two-time major winner Dustin Johnson was on 2-over par, six shots adrift, with England’s Richard Bland at 4-over and 2018 Masters winner Patrick Reed on 6-over.
The best final-round comeback in US Open history was in 1960 when Palmer rallied from seven strokes down to win at Cherry Hills.
Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open winner, had a bogey-double bogey start Sunday to stand on 11-over for the tournament.
Last week’s LIV event had a top prize of $4 million from a golf record $25 million purse.
The US Open’s $17.5 million payout will bring the winner a record $3.15 million, more than the $2.7 million top prizes at this year’s Masters and PGA Championship.
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