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ERIN, Wis. — Justin Thomas became just the fifth player to shoot 63 in a U.S. Open when he eagled the 18th hole from 8 feet at Erin Hills.
Thomas, 24, who shot 59 earlier this year in Hawaii, was 9-under on the par-72 course, eclipsing the U.S. Open record for lowest round in relation to par, set by Johnny Miller at Oakmont (par-71) in 1973.
Thomas will begin the final round one shot behind leader? Brian Harman, whose 5-under 67 propelled him to a 12-under 204 total. Thomas, Tommy Fleetwood and Brooks Koepka are tied at 11 under, with Rickie Fowler, who also is seeking his first major championship, another shot back.
“It means I’m a part of history,” Thomas said after his round. “It means I have a lot better chance to win the tournament than I did when the day started. It’s all pretty self-explanatory, I guess, in terms of what it means.
“For me, I felt like I’ve bene playing pretty well all week, and didn’t quite have the numbers to show for it. Obviously today I definitely had something to show for it.”
Miller, whose 8-under 63 came in the final round, and Jack Nicklaus (1980, Baltusrol) are the only players to shoot 63 in a U.S. Open and win. Tom Weiskopf also shot 63 in the opening round of the 1980 U.S. Open at Baltusol. Vijay Singh was the last player to do so during the second round of the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields.
It was the 31st score of 63 in major championship history. There were three in 2016, including a final-round 63 by Henrik Stenson in winning The Open at Troon.
No player has ever gone lower in a major.
Thomas made an eagle, nine birdies and two bogeys. He played the front nine in 31 with three straight birdies to finish, then played the last seven holes in 5 under. He had 10 scores of 3 on his card and a 2.
He hit a 3-wood from 310 yards on the par-5 18th to set up his eagle putt.
“I knew it was for 63,” said Thomas, who has won four times on the PGA Tour, including three this season. “You’ve got leaderboards everywhere, and for the most part you usually have an idea what you’re doing.
“I told Jimmy (Johnson, his caddie) 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.’
“But I had no idea in terms of 9-under being the best in the U.S. Open.”