Rickie Fowler, Wyndham Clark tied atop US Open leaderboard

Fowler put together a steady stretch before a three-putt bogey on the last hole on Saturday, dropping him into a tie with Wyndham Clark going into the final round.

Published : Jun 18, 2023 10:37 IST - 4 MINS READ

Rickie Fowler in action.
Rickie Fowler in action. | Photo Credit: AP

Rickie Fowler in action. | Photo Credit: AP

Rickie Fowler wasn’t about to dwell on one hole at the end of the third round of the U.S. Open.

He’s more inclined to think about the next 18 as he pursues his first major championship.

“Through three rounds we’re in the spot that we want to be in, and (Sunday) is when the tournament starts,” Fowler said.

Fowler put together a steady stretch before a three-putt bogey on the last hole on Saturday, dropping him into a tie with Wyndham Clark going into the final round.

Both golfers are at 10-under 200, one stroke ahead of Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland.

Fowler shot even-par 70, but Clark’s 69 allowed him to pull even after a long stretch atop the leaderboard at Los Angeles Country Club’s North Course.

Fowler shrugged off the final-hole drama.

“Just a bummer. It would be nice for that one to go in,” he said. “Really doesn’t matter, having the lead, being one back, two back. You’re going to have to play good golf (in the final round).”

McIlroy used a 69 to go to 9 under.

“It’s nice to be in the hunt,” McIlroy said.

After some late twists and turns, a two-shot swing on the last hole changed the complexion heading into the final day.

Fowler should have a good idea of how difficult it will be to secure his first major championship after going through Saturday’s challenges.

“After going through the last few years, I’m not scared to fail,” he said. “I’ve dealt with that. We’re just going to go have fun, continue to try to execute, leave it all out there, see where we stand on 18.”

Clark will play in the final pairing in the last round of a major for the first time. Like Fowler, Clark is a former Oklahoma State golfer.

“It’s a U.S. Open and I wanted to be in that final group,” Clark said.

World No. 1 Scottie Scheffler (68) is in range in fourth place at 7 under. His comfort level might be growing.

“I felt like (this) was one of those days I played significantly better,” Scheffler said.

Clark was in the lead by a shot when making the turn at 2-under for the round, but then he encountered a troubling stretch.

On No. 10, Fowler saved par from the high greenside rough. On the same hole, Clark’s bid to go up by two strokes failed when his birdie attempt skimmed the cup. There was a tie for first place after Clark’s bogey on the next hole.

On No. 12, Clark didn’t get out of the greenside rough with a chip that popped up and went about a foot, so that cost him a share of the top spot.

“I felt like I handled all of it really well,” Clark said. “I had two back-to-back bogeys which were unfortunate but followed it up with birdie, and then birdieing at the end I felt like I handled all the adversity, and I feel like my best round is still out there.”

Fowler was at 11 under following a 69-foot birdie putt on No. 13.

After a bogey on No. 17 caused Clark to slip two shots back, perhaps his best shot of the round was the approach on No. 18. He converted the birdie putt. Fowler was overzealous on his first putt on the hole, costing him the lead when he was off the mark on the second putt.

McIlroy likes his position, particularly after dodging missteps in the third round.

“It was pretty good,” he said. “I felt like I played good, smart golf. I think I played the backside really, really solidly.”

Scheffler ended the round with an eagle and a birdie. His second shot from 196 yards out on the par-4 17th hole rolled in.

“Could not see the ball go in, but there was a nice crowd there on the grandstand behind the green,” Scheffler said. “I saw where it landed and I thought it would funnel out on to the green and I’d have a look for birdie, and then you could see everybody as the noise started to kind of rise.”

Harris English was tied with Scheffler before trouble near the 18th green in the thick rough. He notched bogey, so his 71 was his worst round of the week by four shots.

Dustin Johnson (71) and Xander Schauffele (73) are tied for sixth at 5 under.

South Korean Tom Kim’s 66 was the best score of the day, putting him at 3 under and tied for ninth place.

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