Wind howling as final round at Erin Hills gets under way

Staying that deep into the red might not prove as easy.

American Justin Thomas became the 29th golfer to shoot 63 in a major championship.

It was all part of a dizzying day at the U.S. Open where at times the leaderboard resembled a game of musical chairs with names moving up and down.

It is fair to say few would have anticipated Brian Harman being in pole position at the start of the final day, leading by one shot at 12 under par.

This isn't like most Opens.

It's just a matter that this is one of the four majors in a year, and this is a US Open.

The exclamation point to the round was his eagle 3 on the 18th hole. It led to an eagle to close out his 63.

There's no way Harman should be able to stand up to the pressure on Sunday, but why would he be bothered by stress when the other contenders besides Fowler - Thomas, 24; Brooks Koepka, 27; Tommy Fleetwood, 26; Si Woo Kim, 21; Patrick Reed, 26; Russell Henley, 28; and Charley Hoffman, 40 - have no history of doing so at majors, either?

Fowler was among those who wouldn't mind seeing the conditions toughen up for the final 18 holes.

Harman, bidding to become the first left-hander to win a U.S. Open, is a victor on the PGA Tour this year while Thomas is the world number 13, a three-time victor this season and a member of the exclusive "59" club after breaking 60 at the Sony Open this year. And he wasn't through. He had 310 yards to the hole when he hit 3-wood that could have led to big trouble if he went too far long or left. Palmer shot a 65 after going into the final round trailing by seven shots.

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And with the tees moved up on the 15th hole to make it reachable, Thomas hit a 3-wood that rolled off the back slope of the green to 6 feet. The final-round average was 77.2, and 20 players shot in the 80s. "It means I have a lot better chance to win the tournament than I did when the day started". They each hit their first shot into the rough. No one had a chance. And then he made birdie on the next hole. In fact you have to look down to 17th place on the leaderboard before you find a major victor in South African Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open champion. He was 10 under, only two shots behind.

The way this U.S. Open is going at Erin Hills, he might need it.

The course had been softened by rain earlier in the week, and it finally played the way the USGA wanted in the final round.

The putt ran past the hole and settled at the bottom of a collection area 70 feet away.

There will be an 18-hole playoff on Monday if the leaders are tied after 72 holes. The soft Black Course allowed players to take dead aim, and Barnes opened with rounds of 67 and 65.

Rickie Fowler is 1 under through four holes and tied for third with Tommy Fleetwood at 11 under. By the end of a wild and wide-open Saturday, five players were double digits under par.

Having five players reach 10-under in a single U.S. Open is rather remarkable considering just six had ever done it in the previous 116 Opens. A mere hiccup. On Saturday, he got to 14 under, then on Sunday, he widened the gap versus par to 16 under.

And after Haotong Li made a small piece of history Friday by surviving the halfway cut at the U.S. Open, he closed out a frustrating third round with a quadruple-bogey at the par-5 18th on Saturday.

Ahead of what promises to be a gripping Sunday showdown at Erin Hills, we take a look at those best placed to break new ground by taking the title.

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