Brian Harman holds a one-stroke lead in the 117th U.S. Open, but Justin Thomas was the story of the third round in Hartford, Wis.
Thomas (pictured), a three-time winner on the PGA Tour, blistered Erin Hills for a record 9-under-par 63 and is tied for second with Tommy Fleetwood and Brooks Koepka, who both had 68s, one stroke behind Harman, who recorded a 67.
“I’m not sure when it’s going to sink in or when I’m going to realize what I did,” said the 24-year-old Thomas, whose best result in a major was a tie for 18th in the 2015 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.
“I know one thing, if it happened (on Sunday) and the result is what I want it to be, then I would probably have a little different feeling. But I’m just excited to give myself a great chance to win this golf tournament.”
Thomas became the 27th player to shoot the major championship record of 63, and his 9-under total beat by one the record set by Johnny Miller in the 1973 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
Said an ungracious Miller: “Erin Hills isn’t exactly Oakmont.”
Harman recorded three birdies on each nine in his 67 and has a 54-hole total of 12-under 204.
“(The wind is) going to blow and the scores could be a good deal higher tomorrow, if the weather comes to what they’re predicting,” Harman said. “It could change in a heartbeat.
It just depends on the weather.
“Someone could get out there early and shoot a low score. Justin did it today. It’s out there, for sure. There’s just no telling how low. I could not be leading the golf tournament by the time I tee off tomorrow. That’s a very real possibility.”
Rickie Fowler of Murrieta carded thee straight birdies on the back nine to shoot 68 and is two back in fifth, while Si Woo Kim of South Korea is another shot behind after also shooting 68.
Patrick Reed collected eight birdies in a 65 and is four down in a tie for seventh with Russell Henley, who had a bogey-free 67, and Charley Hoffman of Poway, who totaled 68.
Bill Haas and Brendan Steele of Idyllwild and UC Riverside both shot 69 and are five behind in a tie for 10th with Brandt Snedeker and Xander Schauffele of San Diego, who both fired 70s.
Fourth-ranked Hideki Matsuyama of Japan is tied for 14th after a 71, seventh-ranked Sergio Garcia of Spain, the Masters champion, is tied for 17th after another 71, and fifth-ranked Jordan Spieth is tied for 59th after a 76.