Tommy Fleetwood came from obscurity to set the clubhouse target at two-over-par with an electric all-time US Open low-round of 63 at Shinnecock Hills.
Fleetwood, whose previous best major finish was a fourth at last year’s US Open, began the day six shots off the four-man tie for the lead and made four birdies going out and four coming back in to race into contention.
At nine-over-par, the Englishman would have to make a fast start if he were to make a Sunday move. And that he did.
A routine par on the first was followed up by sinking a 30-foot birdie putt on one of Shinnecock’s hardest holes, the second, to move to one-under for the day.
The third hole was a mirror image of the second and at two-under through three holes Fleetwood could perhaps consider dreaming.
Two pars followed, including a disappointing five on the fifth, but he bounced back with an approach from 175 yards to three-feet for a tap-in third birdie of the day. Momentum was truly beginning to build as the 27-year-old stuck his tee-shot on the par three seventh to 10-feet: another birdie.
After brief intermission from the birdie-frenzy – including a failed up-and-down bogey on the ninth – Fleetwood got back amongst the action on the 12th by draining a 15-footer for a fifth birdie of the day.
In the theme of his round, he followed that birdie by setting up a tap-in on 13. This time the birdie-run extended further. On the 14th he sunk a putt from off the green for birdie number seven. And on 15 he found the cup from 30-feet for a fourth straight birdie to make it to two-over-par for the tournament.
At this point, he was just one gained shot away from breaking the US Open low-round record of 63. But for the first time on Sunday, Fleetwood was left to rue missed chances on the 16th, 17th and 18th by watching birdie putts from very makeable range slip past the cup.
Regardless, his 63 becomes just the sixth in US Open history alongside the likes of Justin Thomas, Jack Nicklaus and Vijay Singh. Not to mentioned, he’s putt (pun intended) himself in the clubhouse one-shot behind the current leaders who still have over half of Shinnecock’s treacherous course ahead of them.
Whether he wins his first major title or not, it has been a record-equalling and eyebrow-raising day that will love long in the storybook of Fleetwood’s career.