Long-driving Champ takes advantage of Erin Hills' generosity

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He birdied his second hole of the day (the 11th) to surge into the lead and then everything went pear-shaped: a bogey on 12 and then a triple-bogey 8 on the 14th hole, during which he had an extended misadventure in the fescue.

But the third-round leader at the U.S. Open? There were five players in double digits Saturday at Erin Hills.

Seven under led after round one and seven under leads after round two, with the weather expected at the weekend, seven under would probably win the tournament.

Following a mini-meltdown on his front nine, where he dropped five shots in four holes, including an 8 on the par-five 14th, the Englishman bounced back with five birdies in a row.

The tournament-leading foursome held a one-shot lead over a trio of contenders that includes first-round leader Rickie Fowler.

Brooks Keopka and Tommy Fleetwood shot matching 68's to also sit at 11-under par.

"The biggest thing about this course is that the fairways are massive", Day said. I've been there a handful of times and had some good finishes. "I take two hundred milligrams of man-up and get on with it".

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Thomas finished in style, and it had nothing to do with his hot pink trousers. He still built a six-shot lead through 36 holes, despite hitting his tee shot into the ocean on the 18th hole and salvaging bogey.

"The finish was awesome".

"I think at the end of the day, it's competitive rounds and get the card in my hand", McIlroy said.

He might need one at this rate.

He's in contention again going into this weekend at another new Open course, Erin Hills.

Following the afternoon wave, Casey must have been positively beaming because the long-hitting 39-year-old surprisingly found himself in a four-way tie for the halfway lead at seven-under 137.

"That means I'm a part of history", Thomas told reporters. "I felt like I've been playing pretty well all week, and didn't have quite the numbers to show for it". So I really could have been through there with just one bogey.

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Thomas, a major away from joining the young elite in golf, only added to a year of low numbers. He has won one tournament on the PGA Tour. This is only his second U.S. Open, finishing 27th in 2015. The next one went long, he chipped up to 12 feet and took two putts from there. Casey turns 40 next month and he feels every step, having worn out all of the cartilage in his right big toe.

Being so close to the players in both experiences was phenomenal, but watching them try to remain towards the top or climb the leaderboard and make the cut was exciting. So I've got to work on that driver a little bit more and see if I can't hit it a little bit more consistently with some length. He two-putted for birdie, and he rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th.

Leishman's score is remarkable given the 33-year-old ranked 121st for fairways hit (18 of 28 total) on the longest-ever course in majors history and features knee-high rough.

When a course is set up where the winning scores are within a few strokes of par, you know they did a good job on the set-up, even if the players themselves don't like it.

Plenty of other high-profile players were unable to make the weekend.

"I saw some positives on the back nine to take into next week and, even though this is disappointing, the last two rounds will serve me well in this busy summer". The top 18 players on the leaderboard going into the weekend have combined for zero majors.

"Someone has a very good chance of ending up with their first major tomorrow", Fowler said.

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