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Thomas lights up Erin Hills

Thomas lights up Erin Hills

It is the shiniest.

He saw Fowler snare a lead that would hold up all the long day on the long course (7,741 yards) and match the US Open first-round record against par, held for 37 years by Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf, whose 63s burned up the par-70 Baltusrol in New Jersey.

Five players have reached 10-under par or better so far this week at the U.S. Open - one fewer than the number who had done it over the first 116 years of what had been known as the toughest test in golf.

He carded nine birdies and two bogeys before hitting his second shot to six feet on the par-5 18th and tapped in for eagle to become the 29th golfer to shoot 63 at the majors. He got that up-and-down for a bogey and a 68.

The final round of the U.S. Open will begin with the top 16 places on the leaderboard all occupied by players who have yet to win a major.

The scores keep getting lower and the names keep revolving atop the leaderboard at the U.S. Open.

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There's no way Harman should be able to stand up to the pressure on Sunday, but why would he be bothered by stress when the other contenders besides Fowler - Thomas, 24; Brooks Koepka, 27; Tommy Fleetwood, 26; Si Woo Kim, 21; Patrick Reed, 26; Russell Henley, 28; and Charley Hoffman, 40 - have no history of doing so at majors, either?

For Fowler, it again started the conversation over whether he would finally win his first Major. He has not had a top-10 finish since January, and his game has lacked consistency from round to round. Some have done splashy things only the golf nuts know, and Thomas lights up that category.

Grass stains from forays into the rough and claustrophobia from narrow fairways have been replaced by grins and giggles, as a run-of-the-mill PGA Tour event has taken over what is typically one of the most exhausting tests on the golf calendar.

Stress did not hover much in the first round of the 117th US Open at the Erin Hills golf course despite all the hand-wringing about menacingly tall fescue grass and all the worry about malevolent blind shots and bunkers seemingly steeper - and deeper - than a mine shaft.

"Actually I played fine in Memphis, too", said Summerhays.

"Justin did it today; it's out there, for sure", Harman said. There's just no telling how low.

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Kite says it looks as if the conditions at Erin Hills "are going to be a lot more challenging", but he doesn't think it will look like what happened 25 years ago.

"It's going to be weird", Thomas said of the evening. If I wake up with the same feelings tomorrow I'm going to have a chance.

"The guys at the scoring table told me that, so I was pretty pumped about that". I've been there a handful of times and had some good finishes.

Tom Kite knows a little something about hard conditions for the final round of the U.S. Open. I was just trying to get a 4 and get out of there. As a result, it should all be a wild ride through the final 18 holes. The 3-wood he crushed then ran past the green, so on Saturday he thought an iron might do. The geometric wonder of a birdie putt on No. 5 cured a peeved feeling - the ball inexplicably had stopped on the fringe beforehand - until he sent it sideways, perfectly reading a break that curved right toward a loopy happiness.

Johnson put his weekend in jeopardy after missing a 6-footer for par on the par-3 13th. It was enough to prompt a reasonable question from a reporter about whether, on days like Saturday and the 59, very-young Justin Thomas feels like the best golfer in the world.

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