BROOKLINE, Mass. — The U.S. Open usually waits until the final day of its 72-hole crucible to toy with the world’s best golfers. But perhaps in tribute to the venerable history of this year’s host, vexing conditions — blustery winds, thick rough and fast greens — began to crush the wills and sap the souls of the players 24 hours early at the Country Club outside Boston.
With an under-par score a rarity, the top of Saturday’s third round leaderboard was overhauled frequently. In the end, a handful of this year’s hottest golfers remained in contention, joined by some lesser-known names to set up what figures to be an entertaining final-round slugfest against a golf course that one of the co-leaders, Will Zalatoris, called “an absolute beast.”
Zalatoris’s determined round of 67, the lowest on Saturday, left him four-under par for the championship, tied with Matthew Fitzpatrick of England, who shot a two-under par 68. Jon Rahm, the defending U.S. Open champion, squandered a late lead in the round to fall one stroke behind Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick.