US Open: Fitzpatrick and Zalatoris set for epic…


LEADERBOARD -4 Fitzpatrick, Zalatoris; -3 Rahm; -2 Bradley, Hadwin, Scheffler; -1 Burns, McIlroy, Dahmen. SELECTED OTHERS +2 Morikawa; +3 Spieth, Thomas; +5 Koepka.

Two of golf’s brightest young stars are set for battle.

Matt Fitzpatrick and Will Zalatoris sit atop the US Open leaderboard ahead of Sunday’s final round at the Country Club, both with a golden opportunity to claim their maiden major title.

For Zalatoris, a bid to banish the demons of his US PGA heartbreak. For Fitzpatrick, a chance to make history, returning to the scene of his US Amateur victory nine years ago.

“I certainly think it gives me an edge over the others,” he said after his round. 

“I genuinely do believe that. It’s a real, obviously, positive moment in my career. It kind of kickstarted me. To come back here and play so well again, it kind of just gives me growing confidence round by round.”

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Either or neither could win it. But these two young men may provide one of the most exceptional major Sunday battles in years.

Fitzpatrick’s stunning back nine propelled him out in front. An unfortunate bogey at the last took some of the gloss off and saw him drop back level with his rival.

Zalatoris, meanwhile, finished on four-under thanks to a majestic sand save at the last. On a downhill lie in a greenside bunker, he splashed out and then drained the putt to put himself in prime position.

It could have been a different story. Defending champion Jon Rahm led by one coming down 18 – but he inexplicably left one in a fairway bunker, before finding another sand trap. Two putts meant a six and he went from one in front to one back.

For a brief moment, it looked as though we were on for a repeat of the Masters. Scottie Scheffler’s astonishing hole-out eagle at eight sent him two clear. But at the 11th, he handed the two shots right back, then dropped two more at 12 and 13.

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Rory McIlroy had a mixed day. Early bogeys looked to have set the tone, but he rallied on his inward half to remain firmly in contention.

Others are in the mix, too. Sam Burns quietly went about his business and got to within two. Adam Hadwin, the surprise first-round leader, is back in contention. Home favourite Keegan Bradley is right there too.

But Collin Morikawa, co-leader at the halfway mark, had a disastrous round and will find it tough to come back on Sunday. Joel Dahmen, who had joined him at the top, also had a tough day at the office but was able to cling on and is only three back.

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