England’s Tommy Fleetwood came within inches of making history as he surged into contention for a first major title in the 118th US Open on Sunday.
After admitting they went “too far” with their course set-up for round three, USGA officials applied “appropriate levels” of water to the greens at Shinnecock Hills on Saturday night and Sunday morning, as well as selecting some more favourable pin positions.
And Fleetwood took full advantage with a stunning final round of 63 to set the clubhouse target on two over par before facing a lengthy wait to see if anyone could beat it.
Fleetwood’s score equalled the lowest ever recorded in the US Open and was just one outside the all-time major record of 62 set by Branden Grace in last year’s Open Championship at Royal Birkdale.
He was just a whisker away from a birdie at the last that would have seen him match Grace’s score and take the outright US Open record.
As the 27-year-old from Southport signed his card, defending champion Brooks Koepka and Masters champion Patrick Reed shared the lead on one over par with 11 and 10 holes to play respectively.
Starting the day six shots off the lead, Fleetwood made the ideal start with four birdies in his first seven holes before dropping a shot on the ninth after missing the green with his approach.
However, he bounced back brilliantly to fire four birdies in succession from the 12th and surprisingly left another birdie attempt short from 12 feet on the par-five 16th.
A superb approach to the 18th left Fleetwood with eight feet to shoot 62, but the putt slid across the face of the hole.
However, given how the conditions became progressively more difficult as the afternoon wore on during the third round, Fleetwood had a great chance to become only the third English winner of the US Open, after Tony Jacklin and Justin Rose, since 1924.
Rickie Fowler, who bounced back from an 84 on Saturday to shoot 65 earlier in the day, felt the course would remain playable throughout the day.
“That’s the golf course I enjoy playing,” Fowler said. “Obviously pin placements were a lot safer. The pins today will definitely allow for the greens to firm up and get fast, and we’ll see how much they dry out.
“It was nice to get back to swinging it how I was the first two days. I just had a couple mistakes that compounded yesterday, and it didn’t help that the course was playing the toughest it’s played all week.
“I think they did a good job with set-up today. I don’t think they’ll have any issues.”
Fleetwood, whose fourth place behind Koepka at Erin Hills last year is his best major finish to date, said: “I never thought I was out of it, I just needed a good start.
“We knew they would have made it a bit softer and the pins were more accessible. Four under through seven and it was game on. It was great to get it going on the back nine.
“I always felt I could get myself back in it but when you finish you are always going to be just short, but we will see.”
Speaking about the birdie putt, Fleetwood added on Fox Sports: “I knew what it was for and I started it on the line I wanted to, but it was a little bit slower than I thought.”