Third-round leader Brian Harman’s 12-under-par total of 204 is the second-lowest 54-hole score in relation to par in championship history. Rory McIlroy posted 14-under 199 en route to victory in 2011 at Congressional Country Club.
Louis Oosthuizen, who shot 68 and tied for 17th at 4 under: “If you’re within four shots on Sunday at a major playing the back nine, you’ve got a chance of winning it. That’s when all the mental games start playing in your head. I think there will be a lot of people in contention with nine holes to go tomorrow, and that’s where, I think, a lot of experience is going to come in.”
A U.S. Open runner-up has never finished 72 holes in 10 under par or better. Only two champions (McIlroy in 2011 at 16 under; Tiger Woods at 12 under in 2000) have finished at 10 under or better in the history of the championship.
Patrick Reed, on his 7-under 65, after a 75 on Friday: “The biggest difference between today and yesterday was yesterday I seemed to hit the ball maybe a fraction closer all day, but I was on the wrong side of the hole. I was always above it or just on one side of the ridge where I had to go up and over. So you’re having to putt defensively. Today it seemed like I left myself below the hole, so I was able to be aggressive going up toward the hole. That's key around here.”
Tommy Fleetwood is trying to become the third Englishman to win the U.S. Open since 1925, joining Tony Jacklin (1970) and Justin Rose (2013).
Jordan Spieth, who is tied for 59th after a 4-over 76: “I’ve been striking the ball well. I’m just trying to figure it out on and around the greens. I’m just thinking a lot about my stroke, stance, stuff you would rather not be thinking about. You’d rather think about line or pace, but I can’t do that yet because I haven't figured out the other part. Pitchers have good days and bad days, and I took an ‘L’ today.”
At one point in Saturday’s third round, seven players were tied for the lead at 7 under par.
Steve Stricker (69, tied for 30th), on playing before a home crowd: “I really haven’t felt the pressure like I did when I used to come and play in Wisconsin. I feel way more relaxed. I feel like I don’t have anything to prove anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a little more nervous and I want to play well, but I’ve taken on a different attitude about it. I enjoy it a lot more. The ovation I got going up 18 was unbelievable.”
Russell Henley on his birdie to start the inward nine: “Number 10 (521 yards) is the longest par 4 I’ve ever played. I hit the best drive I could hit, and hit a 2-iron from 240 yards and then made the putt. That was one of the best holes I’ve ever played.”
Henley, who shot 67 and is tied for seventh place: “Tim Clark has helped me a lot with my game. He told me this week that the only thing I can do is the best I can on every shot. As cliché as that is, when you’re in a major and there’s emotion and adrenaline and you want to play well, and you watched guys playing in the U.S. Open when you were growing up. I keep reminding myself to do the best I can, one shot at a time, and it’s led me here. That's what I’m going to try to keep doing.”
Cameron Champ’s 54-hole score of 212 is the lowest score by an amateur through 54 holes since Beau Hossler posted 212 at The Olympic Club (Lake Course) in 2012.
Justin Thomas’ 63 ties the lowest score ever in a U.S. Open and is the lowest third round in U.S. Open history. Ben Crenshaw (Merion, 1981), Keith Clearwater (The Olympic Club, 1987) and Loren Roberts (Oakmont, 1994) all shot third-round 64s.
Thomas (63, tied for second), who also played in the 2011 U.S. Amateur, on Erin Hills: “It’s such a cool course standing on the tee. A hole like Number 3, to me that epitomizes a U.S. Open. When you look down and see the fescue lining the fairways and the bunkers that have the fescue coming out of them, and you can see the slopes on the green and the change of color, that’s cool to me. You get a nice day out there, you get some great scenes.”
In the third round, the drivable par 4s – No. 15 and No. 2 – played as the easiest and fourth-easiest holes, respectively. Nine players drove the green on the 288-yard 15th, which yielded 31 birdies and three eagles and played to a stroke average of 3.52. No players reached the green with their drives on the 331-yard second hole in the third round, though it yielded 18 birdies and played to a 3.88 average.
Jordan Niebrugge (73 on Saturday, 2 over), of Mequon, Wis., on playing in his first U.S. Open on Father’s Day: “I’ve been thinking about it since we [qualified] two Mondays ago, but it will be pretty awesome coming off the 18th green and getting a hug from [father Rod]. He doesn’t really like hugs, but I think he’ll get one tomorrow.”
Ron Driscoll is the manager of editorial services for the USGA. Email him at email@example.com.