Fitzpatrick would have taken full advantage of the club, had it not been for a bogey on the 18th. But he did not complain, especially when he looked at the standings and saw the identities of those who were fighting. McIlroy made a bogey three of the first six holes and in fact came out bravely to hold on and hit a 73 to get back to a low.
That’s close enough, but McIlroy will be desperate to make sure his putter doesn’t catch a dose of chills like he did early Sunday. Luckily, he regained his previous heat as he made surprisingly eight single putts to nine holes from the ninth. That alone kept the 33-year-old’s hopes of a first major in eight years alive.
It should be dramatic today, if only because there is no lead in the Country Club. Not when you play like that. This was highlighted by world number 1 Scottie Scheffler. Looking to become the sixth player in history to win the U.S. Masters and Open the same season, Scheffler was in the lead when he made a hole from 101 yards for an eagle in the eighth. This brought him to six under and two clear and it looked like the Augusta National was back.
But in an astonishing mini-collapse, Scheffler dropped five shots in four holes from the 11th, making a double buck in the shortest hole of the course and then increasing that error with three bogeys in a row. He stopped the putrefaction with a pair on the 15th and birdied on the 17th to post a weird 71 and stayed in the two-on-one fight alongside Keegan Bradley, the local Massachusetts guy who shot a 69.
Collin Morikawa did not enjoy this fight. The leader of the joint night came out on a three out of 38, with a double bogey in the seventh, and then caught another six in a par-four in the 13th. Playing last, the world number 7, who was looking for his third major title in only his 12th major outing, was seven for the day and two for the tournament.
There is no representation of LIV Golf at the commercial end of the classification. Fifteen of the players who have signed with the Saudi rebel circuit left here for Boston, but only four survived the cut. Dustin Johnson is the best placed with two, after a 71, while Richard Bland, the 49-year-old deserter from Southampton, is in four after a 72.
LIV’s next $ 25 million cut-off event is in 12 days in Portland, Oregon. This 48-man camp will be announced early next week and rumors are circulating that there may be some new big names in its ranks, with Matsuyama making a strong mention in the locker room.