Matt FITZPATRIK is on the verge of joining Jack Nicklaus in the book of golf records after another brilliant day in Brooklyn.
United leader Fitzpatrick has a great chance to become only the second person after Nicklaus to win the US Amateur and US Open title at the same venue.
The Golden Bear won his second U.S. Amateur title at Pebble Beach in 1961, and 11 years later got a big one on the same course.
Fitzpatrick became the first Englishman to win the American Amateur title in 102 years when he won the title in Brooklyn in 2013 at the age of 18 with his younger brother Alex.
The Sheffield golfer said this return to one of his favorite fields has been circulated on his calendar for years – and it’s easy to see why.
Fitzpatyk and another man from the bottom four – chief specialist Will Zalataris – seemed to be the only players able to hold their heads while everyone around them lost in the third round of the US Open.
Even reigning champion John Ram got nosebleeds after reaching the top of the leaderboard.
He was a clean shot, playing last, only to leave his second shot in the fairway bunker on the way to the double bullet that fired him in third place, three below.
Zalatoris threw down the gauntlet to opponents in a brilliant third round of 67 to put the club’s task at four below par.
Fitzpatyk was the first person to pick him with two under 68, leading him to the same mark before Ram quickly in a row blew three hopeless before that last disaster.
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The second world number will start as a marginal favorite to become only the third person to successfully defend the US Open title, although world number one Scotty Scheffler and four-time major winner Rory McIlroy did not come out of it despite unbearable third rounds.
McIlroy looked as if he had dropped out of the tournament with three early scarecrows.
But eight single strikes in the space of nine holes meant he saved 73, and in one smaller he was only four strokes away from the lead.
But Fitzpatrick is obviously very confident. He said: “I would be lying if I said that I did not think for a long time about what victory here would mean.
“It would mean peace because this place is special to me for obvious reasons. Winning the U.S. Amateur Championship was one of the biggest accomplishments of my career so far, but winning the US Open will obviously be higher.
“I’m staying with the same family I was in in 2013, and I have friends and family to help me stay calm, so hopefully I can finish.”
The 27-year-old Fitzpatrick looked set to emerge in the final round as the undisputed leader as he lit up the wind at twenty miles per hour and threw solid greens with a scorching blast of three birds in four holes from the 14th.
This gave him an advantage of one hit at five less. But the damage on the infamous challenging 18th meant he just missed his way to the final group on Sunday for a second major in a row.
He was in that position at the USPGA Championship last month, only to score a top three over 73, which reduced him from a split second to a draw in fifth.
After this experience Fitzpatyk will know much more about the pressure of trying to close the major.
So will Zalatoris. He lost to Justin Thomas in last month’s USPGA playoffs, finishing out of the top eight in just three of eight starts in major competitions.