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US Open (golf)

Justin Thomas storms to top of US Open with history-making record nine-under-par round

American rattles in eagle three on the 18th for perfect day

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 10:40am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 June, 2017, 10:40am

Justin Thomas overcame a rumbling stomach to take a bite out of US Open history on Saturday with a record-breaking 63.

The 24-year-old stormed to the top of the leaderboard at Erin Hills with an astonishing nine-under-par round.

On an Erin Hills course that again lacked enough wind to be the stern test the US Open wants, Brian Harman weaved his way through traffic at the top of the leaderboard for a 5-under 67 and a one-shot lead over Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood.

The highlight of a round which included nine birdies and two bogeys was a magnificent eagle three on the par-five 18th.

A perfect tee-shot left him in the centre of the fairway and he then ripped his second some 300 yards to leave himself with an eight-foot putt to clinch the lowest to par score in the history of the US Open.

The previous best single-round record in relation to par had been Johnny Miller’s eight-under 63 in the final round of the 1973 US Open.

“I told [caddie] Jimmy [Johnson] walking up there once I found out we had a putt, I said ‘Let’s try to become a part of history here.’ He said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it,’” a delighted Thomas said afterwards.

Thomas revealed he had failed to pack a snack in his bag and that his groaning stomach had been affecting his concentration for the holes leading up to his eagle putt.

He had missed another eagle putt on the 15th, when he drove the green in one and then rolled a six-footer just wide of the hole.

“I’m hungry,” Thomas said. “Honestly, I was a little mad at myself because I could feel I was hungry on 14 and 15, I didn’t have anything.

“I just get a little shaky and jittery on putts, and that’s what happened on 15. Then I was so mad at myself for that.

“So I could feel it a little bit again [on 18], but I just wanted to calm myself and just try to relax over that putt.”

With overnight rain softening the course, supposedly daunting Erin Hills layout became a low-scoring paradise on Saturday.

Thomas, who first caught the attention of the golf world when he carded a bogey-free 65 at the 2009 Wyndham Championship as a 16-year-old, said the weather had played a key role in his round.

“I wouldn’t have been able to do that without that rain last night,” he said. “I’m thankful for that.”

But he admitted his record 63 had failed to sink in.

“I’m not sure when it’s going to sink in or when I’m going to realise what I did,” Thomas said.

“I know one thing, if it happened tomorrow and the result is what I want it to be, then I’d probably have a little different feeling.

“But I’m just so excited to give myself a great chance to win this golf tournament.”

Thomas now plans to take the same relaxed approach into Sunday’s final round.

“I feel comfortable. Being in contention in a major is new and I’m excited,” said Thomas.

“I hope the moment will come as soon as possible. I know I’m going to be nervous, I just need to harness that as best I can.”