Scottie Scheffler storms into the chase at the US Open thanks to late heroics


June 18, 2023 | 4:17

LOS ANGELES — Watch out for Scottie Scheffler.

The world No. 1 is not in the lead going into the final round of the US Open on Sunday, but he is in a dangerous hunting position, with less pressure on him than there is on either leaders Rickie Fowler and Wyndham Clark or Rory Mcllroy, who is one shot off the lead at the Los Angeles Country Club.

Although Fowler and Clark battled it out in the final pairing Saturday, Scheffler made a dramatic move late in the third round, with a fairway hole-out eagle on the very difficult par-4 17th hole and a birdie on the 18th 7-under and threw himself very much into the Sunday conversation.

Scheffler’s round was a strange roller-coaster affair. He began the day at 5-under and was largely cruising until he dropped to 4-under and seven shots back with a bogey on the 16th hole.

Then came the fireworks on the 17th. Scheffler said he didn’t see the run-up shot go in for the eagle, but the noise from the crowd told him it did.

Asked if, as a major champion already and having won six times in the last two years, he will feel less nervous on Sunday, Scheffler said: “You’re nervous whether you’re leading or chasing. I want to win the golf tournament. It doesn’t matter what tournament it is, I show up and I want to play well and I want to win.

“I’m going to be chasing, but it’s not going to feel any different. I’ve got to go out there and execute and do the best I can.”

Scottie Scheffler celebrates with his caddy Ted Scott after holing an eagle from the fairway on the 17th hole.

McIlroy will feel his own pressure on Sunday, carrying the baggage of not having won a major championship since 2014.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” McIlroy said after he shot 69 to get to 9-under. “I felt like I played really smart, solid golf. Hit a lot of fairways, hit a lot of greens.

It kind of felt stress-free out there, if you can ever call golf at a US Open stress-free. I feel like I’m in a good place heading into tomorrow.”

Asked if his “know-how” for winning majors will help him, McIlroy said frankly: “I don’t know. It’s been so long since I’ve done it. I go out there to try to execute a game plan , and I feel like over the last three days I’ve executed that game plan really, really well, and I just have to do that one more day.”

Rory McIlroy hits a tee shot on the par-3 15th hole during the third round of the US Open.
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Tom Kim looked like he was about to light the course on fire in his third round.

Kim made the turn in 6-under 29, making him the first player in US Open history to open a round with a 29. Then, however, reality set in on the trickier back nine. Kim still finished with a 4-under 66 for the round, but he can always wonder how low he could have gone.

When he birdied No. 10, he was 7-under for the first 10 holes before playing the final eight holes in 3-over.

“It definitely caught my mind when I was 7-under after 10, where, ‘Man, if I can keep this going, get a good finish, I might have a chance to be really close there on Sunday,'” Kim said. “But it was a really short thought because I still had the hardest part of the golf course ahead of me. The back nine is really tough.”

Matthew Fitzpatrick, the defending champion, took a page from Brooks Koepka’s book and revealed that he is not crazy about the LACC, mostly because of the blind shots on the court.

Matthew Fitzpatrick lines up a putt on the fifth green during the third round of the US Open.
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“Yeah, not my cup of tea,” Fitzpatrick said. “I just think the golf course is interesting, to be polite. There’s just too many holes for me where you have blind tee shots and then you have fairways that don’t hold the ball. There’s too much slope.

“Some of the tee shots are just … I think they’re a little bit unfair. You hit a good tee shot and end up in the rough with one foot and then you hack it out. Meanwhile, someone has hit it miles offline the other way and they have a shot.”

Cameron Young’s tee shot on the 10th hole ended up in a golf cart ball holder.

The cart, used by an NBC on-course reporter, was parked unattended on the left side of the fairway.

Young put a tee under the cart where his golf ball was, and under Rule 15.2a(2) he was entitled to “relief when (the ball) is in or on an immovable obstruction anywhere on the course except on the putting green.”

Young hit his second shot behind the green near the stands and got up and down for an eventful and bizarre par.

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