Rickie Fowler is atop the leaderboard for the third straight day, but it could have been better.
Fowler, seeking his first major title, lipped out a short par putt on the last hole and his even-par 70 left him tied for the lead with Wyndham Clark (pictured) heading to the final round of the 123rd U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club.
“Actually I thought that last putt was pretty good,” said Fowler, whose biggest victory came in the 2015 Players Championship. “It just didn’t break as much as I thought it would, but was still in the hole and just lipped out. Maybe, there was just a little too much speed on it to make it do that.
“I hit a lot of good shots again today, but the course was a lot firmer and didn’t end up in great spots. There were a lot of front pins that were difficult to get close to, which made i5 difficult 5o make too many birdies. Still, I’ve been playing well this week, and even today no matter what the score says.
“We’ve played three rounds and I’m in position to win, and that’s all you can ask for, especially in a major.
Fowler, from Murietta in Southern California who has led or been tied for the lead after each round after opening with a tournament record of 62, made three birdies and three bogeys in his 70 to record a 54-hole total of 10-under-par 200.
The highlight of his round came when he holed a 69-foot birdie putt on the 13th hole.
Clark hit a brilliant approach shot to within four feet on the last hole and made the putt for his third birdie in a 69 to pull even with Fowler and earn a spot with him in the last twosome in the final round.
“That was huge to finish with a birdie because I wanted to be in the final group with Rickie,” said Clark, who earned his first PGA Tour victory in the Wells Fargo Championship in May. “After I made a bogey at No. 17, I knew I needed to finish with a birdie, so I hit that shot right at the flag and it was almost perfect. It was definitely the shot of the day.
“I was definitely nervous early in the round today, having never been in this position in a major before, but I was able to calm myself down in the middle of the round, slowed things down and actually felt pretty comfortable out there toward the end, which made a big difference in the way I played.
“I’m looking forward to the final round and I like my chances.”
Third-ranked Rory McIlroy, who has won four majors but none since the 2014 PGA Championship, birdied two of the first three holes en route to a 69 and is one stroke back in third, while top-ranked Scottie Scheffler finished eagle-birdie for a 68 and is three back in fourth, and Harris English made three bogeys on the back nine in a 71 and is one more down in fourth.
Said Scheffler of his 214-yard shot from the fairway: “I didn’t even see it go in the hole.”
Sixth-ranked Xander Schauffele of La Jolla and San Diego State, the 2021 Olympic Gold Medalist who was tied for the first-round lead with Fowler at 62, made three late bogeys in a 7e and is five shots behind in a tie for sixth with two-time major champion Dustin Johnson, who had three birdies and four bogeys in a 71.
Ryutaro Nagano of Japan eagled the eighth hole and added three birdies in a 68 and is six strokes behind in solo eighth, while ninth-ranked Cameron Smith or Australia, the 2022 Open champion, birdied the last hole to salvage a 71 and is seven down in a tie for ninth with Bryson DeChambeau, the 2020 U.S. Open champion, who made five birdies on the front nine in a 68, and 20-year-old Tom Kim of South Korea, who birdied seven of the first 10 holes in a 66.
Fifth-ranked Viktor Hovland of Norway made a late birdie for a 69 and is tied for 12th, while fourth-ranked Patrick Cantlay of Los Alamitos and UCLA made five birdies on the front nine and is in a tie for 15th that includes eighth-ranked Matt Fitzpatrick of England, the defending champion who made two birdies on each nine in a 68, and second-ranked is tied for 38th after a 70 that included two birdies and two bogeys.
For complete results and final-round tee times, visit https://www.pgatour.com/leaderboard