Rickie Fowler only had 3 1/2 feet left for par on what should have been his last shot Saturday in a US Open round filled with far bigger moments. At stake was his first 54-hole lead in a major. Shockingly, he missed and slipped into a tie with Wyndham Clark.
Fowler wasn’t the least bit bothered.
He knows what to expect by looking ahead at a final round on a Los Angeles Country Club course. Getting tougher by the minute, and by looking behind at some of the players chasing them. Rory McIlroy, Scottie Scheffler, Dustin Johnson.
“It would be nice for that one to go in,” Fowler said. “Really doesn’t matter — having the lead. Being one back, two back — you’re going to have to play good golf tomorrow. Bummer to have that one slip away, but tomorrow is a whole new day.
“That’s kind of when the tournament really starts.”
Fowler brought the buzz to the US Open with a 70-foot birdie putt. Only to lose the lead with a three-putt bogey on the 18th hole. That turned into a two-shot lead and a tie for the lead. Clark boldly took on a tight pin he could barely see for a closing birdie.
Clark’s birdie put him — and not McIlroy — in the final group. And he knew it.
“I wanted to be in the final group. Every shot matters out here,” Clark said.
For all the drama over the final hour — big putts, Scheffler’s eagle-birdie finish. Xander Schauffele going from a crash to a recovery to another crash. McIlroy played a steady hand with one birdie and one bogey over his final 14 holes.
He had a 69 that left him one shot behind, poised to end nine long years without a major.
“It’s nice to be in the hunt,” McIlroy said.
Fowler had to settle for an even-par 70. Clark escaped big trouble from the barranca right of the 17th green with a 6-foot bogey putt to stay close. And then boldly took on a tight left pin at the 18th for a 6-foot birdie and a 69.