US Open predictions: Fitzpatrick poised for maiden triumph
After a tough Saturday at blustery Brookline, where windy conditions meant only seven players went round under par, it is all set up nicely for a thrilling finish to the US Open on Sunday, in which Englishman Matthew Fitzpatrick holds a share of the lead.
Fitzpatrick and Will Zalatoris, who are due to tee off at 7.45pm BST, are the joint-leaders at four under going into the final day and there are plenty of other major candidates lurking just behind, including defending champion Jon Rahm, world No1 Scottie Scheffler and four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy.
With only five shots separating 16 players at the top of the leaderboard, it is set to be another exciting day in Massachusetts, when Fitzpatrick will be hoping to hold his nerve and win his first Major amid cool forecast temperatures and calmer winds.
Fitzpatrick has the advantage of having been in this position before and coming out on top, albeit in slightly less grander circumstances when he won the 2013 US Amateur Open at the same course.
That could play nicely to his advantage as, after consistent rounds of 68, 70 and 68 so far this week, the 27-year-old clearly feels at home at The Country Club.
The Sheffield-born star has impressed and will hope to hold off the challenge of Zalatoris and Co to secure his first Major, building on his eye-catching T5 finish at the recent PGA Championship.
Zalatoris, of course, only missed out on PGA glory last month when losing in a play-off to Justin Thomas, so his red-hot form means he will also fancy his chances of landing a much-coveted first Major on what should be a dramatic Sunday with a host of big names in the frame.
Rahm rattled on 18
Defending US Open champion and world No2 Rahm is a shot back and would have also at least shared the lead but for a calamity at the final hole on Saturday.
The Spaniard, who had earlier played a shot back-handed from the base of a tree at the eighth, saw an effort from a fairway bunker hit the lip and almost roll back to where he was standing before his next shot ended up in a greenside bunker.
Rahm needed two putts to end the day on three under for the tournament, but his rounds of 69 and 67 from the first two days prove he obviously cannot be discounted when the pressure is on.
Keegan Bradley, whose only Major came way back at the 2011 PGA Championship, and Canadian Adam Hadwin are both two shots adrift but it would be a surprise if either emerged triumphant at Brookline, even if the latter is enjoying the tournament of his professional life so far.
The 34-year-old, who has only won once before on the PGA Tour, led after the first round and has managed to keep pace with his more illustrious rivals up to now.
However, it would take some effort for the world No105 to see off the rest and win from here.
Scottie getting hot
Of those others expected to challenge on Sunday, the presence of world No1 and Masters champion Scheffler also on two under, two shots behind the leaders, is ominous.
The American has been a model of consistency in 2022 and it would be no surprise to see him emerge from the pack and dominate on the final day, while McIlroy will also believe he is still in with a chance.
The Northern Irishman's well-documented previous issues with seeing tournaments out after brilliant starts are threatening to rear their ugly head once again however.
He admitted he was just thankful to be in touch after a devastatingly difficult third day due to the conditions.
The fact he is on one under means he is well in the mix, only three shots adrift, and he proved with opening rounds of 67 and 69 when it was more benign that he is to be feared when on top of his game.