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US Open 2022: Jon Rahm leads nine golfers most likely to claim championship at The Country Club

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BROOKLINE, Mass. — Jon Rahm exited the 17th hole with poison in his eyes. He just hit a sweet little spinning wedge a few feet away and poured it for his third straight 3, as well as his third birdie in four holes. Suddenly he had the solo lead at the 2022 US Open as he walked to the 18th tee on his 54th hole of the tournament.

Three shots from bunkers on the final led to a double bogey, and all the work Rahm had put in on the back nine, of a golf course that seemed to be wiping away three decades of frustration in a single day, was undone. Rahm now sits back entering Round 4 on Sunday, which is two shots better than last year when he won his first major championship at Torrey Pines.

Rahm sounded conflicted after his third round.

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“I’m very happy,” Rahm said. “I’m not going to lie. It’s irritating in a way to end up that way with how well I played those holes. But as I was telling myself, if on the 14th [hole] You tell me you can put 1 over par and not play the last five holes, I would have run to the clubhouse because of how hard it was to play. I would have taken it, no questions asked.

“I think I have to consider that. I’m 18 holes and I only have one shot back. That’s the important thing.”

It’s it is what matters, and who sits in front of Rahm also matters. Will Zalatoris and Matt Fitzpatrick have not only combined for zero major wins, but also zero trophies in PGA Tour events. Rahm is thunderous, and you’re sure to hear his footsteps as he rides around the old horse track that part of The Country Club was built on.

Despite grouping No. 18 and turning a one-shot lead and the final pairing into a one-shot deficit and penultimate group, Rahm must still be considered the favourite. Although the statistical profiles of Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick are better indicators of a champion, Rahm is a convincing champion who has the looks of a man hell-bent on joining Ben Hogan, Curtis Strange and Brooks Koepka as the only back-to-back US Open champions since the start of the season. Second World War.

That doesn’t mean he’ll win, and he’s an underdog at 4-1, according to Caesars Sportsbook, behind Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick, but if you had told me at the start of the week that Rahm would be behind going into Sunday, I would have said he’s the guy to beat no matter who’s in front of him. That he’s willing to go after two players with a lot of talent but little major success only solidifies that fact.

However, Rahm’s chaotic 3-6 showed one thing. The 122nd US Open is coming a long way and we won’t be able to crown a champion early. I thought Rahm’s birdie on No. 17 to get to 5-under in Round 3 was the beginning of the end for this tournament. That’s what it felt like. Turns out the way it closed was a reminder that it’s only just getting started.

Here are the rest of the golfers who can take home the US Open on Sunday.

2. Will Zalatoris (-4, co-lead): I’m not sure this was on TV, but Brookline felt like an open championship on Saturday. It was colder than it should be in June and windier than anyone expected. And Zalatoris shot a 67. A sixty-seven! “I mean, Will’s 67 today is unbelievable,” said Rory McIlroy, who shot 73. “What a great score.”

Zalatoris has as many top 10 finishes in majors since the start of 2021 as the current top 10 players in the world Patrick Cantlay, Justin Thomas, Viktor Hovland, Sam Burns and Cameron Smith set, so he is no stranger to this stratosphere. Being as close as he was at the 2021 Masters (he lost to Hideki Matsuyama by one stroke) and the 2022 PGA Championship (he lost to Thomas in a playoff) should serve him well on Sunday.

3. Scottie Scheffler (-2, two behind): The Masters champion had a wild Saturday. He holed up for eagle on the par 5 eighth to lead by two, but ended the day trailing by two. He’s trying to join Hogan, Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tiger Woods and Jordan Spieth as the only golfers to win the Masters and the US Open in the same year, and the best thing he has going for him is that he’s leaning toward the madness of this event.

“I think the US Open is very demanding, mentally and physically,” Scheffler said. “I think that’s part of what makes this tournament so much fun. You’re going to be tested in different ways, whether it’s physically, mentally, whatever. This golf tournament is going to test you. That’s why I show up here. I think that’s what’s fun. If all golf tournaments were like this, it would be a long season for all of us. A few times a year, I think it’s a lot of fun.”

4. Matt Fitzpatrick (-4, co-lead): The 2013 U.S. Amateur Champion at this course doesn’t have the great success that Zalatoris (or, for sure, Scheffler) has shown, but his game has improved tremendously over the past year and he has quietly not putted so far this week. Fitzpatrick is leading the field in strokes gained from tee to green and has essentially been an average putter on the course. If he starts falling in love on Sunday with one of the best putters in the world, he will repeat what he did in 2013 on an even bigger stage and become the first non-American to win both the US Am and the US Open.

5. Rory McIlroy (-1, back three): McIlroy played his last 12 holes at par when 3-over or 4-over seemed more likely. He called Saturday “one of the toughest days on a golf course I’ve had in a long time,” and that’s how it felt for him to be there. He pulled some Houdini-level magic on the No. 13 from the woods, going up and down from 170 yards for par. He made a 9-footer on No. 15 and an 11-footer on No. 17, both for par. He dodged bogeys and then literally dodged a turkey walking down one of the holes near the end of his round. McIlroy’s big finish was a decision on No. 18 that gave him relief under a tree. He kind of had a birdie on that hole, but he settled for par and somehow (somehow!) only three going back into Sunday.

“Even though it was such a tough day and I feel like I put up a good fight,” McIlroy said. “Be still only three back in [Sunday] I feel like it’s a good thing for me. … I just stayed in the tournament. That’s all I was trying to do. It just keeps going around. I felt like I did the right thing to put it under par for the tournament at the end of the day.”

Who wins in Brookline? Rick Gehman and Greg Ducharme recap a wild Saturday at The Country Club. Follow and listen to The First Cut on Apple Podcasts Y Spotify.

6. Sam Burns (-1, back three): Burns has been slipping away this week and finds himself one of nine golfers under par. However, he is the only one in that group who is losing shots off the tee. If that doesn’t improve on Sunday, he likely won’t stand a chance. However, Burns is a total threat and has just come back from seven down to win the Charles Schwab Challenge. He will go down swinging and should be fun to watch in the finale.

7. Keegan Bradley (-2, two behind): The New England native will be among the fan favorites on Sunday, and he’s certainly shooting approach shots well enough to win. Only Scheffler and Matsuyama are winning more hits. Bradley is technically a big winner, but it’s been a while. He won the first major he played and hasn’t won in his last 34. It wouldn’t be surprising if he won on Sunday, but it would be a little surprising.

“[The reception I got on No. 18 today] It was one of the most incredible moments of my entire life,” Bradley said. “I got to feel what it’s like to play at Fenway, to play at the [Boston] Garden, to play at Gillette Stadium. I felt like a Boston player there. That was a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life, and I thank the fans for giving it to me, and I hope they cheer me on again. [Sunday].”

8. Joel Dahmen (-1, back three): The good news for Dahmen is that he beat fellow player and two-time Grand Slam winner Collin Morikawa on Saturday. The bad news is that Morikawa shot 77. Dahmen did well to shoot a 74 because he got going the other way quickly, and he’s still at it even if he needs a miracle round on Sunday to get past McIlroy, Rahm. , Scheffler, Zalatoris, and Fitzpatrick. “If you had told me Thursday morning, I would only be three years back by Sunday from a US Open…I like where my game is,” he said. “I felt comfortable out there. Maybe I can sneak up behind them.” [Sunday].”

9. Adam Hadwin (-2, two behind): For the second year in a row, a Canadian is on the list at the end of the US Open. Although Hadwin is third on the course from tee to green so far this week, he would be the most surprising winner of the top nine.

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