Fowler, Thomas a couple of gloomy roomies
Up-and-coming Americans frustrated after shot at a major vanishes at Erin Hills
ERIN, WIS.— Rickie Fowler was hoping to wipe away the past. Justin Thomas was hoping to relive it.
Neither got what they were looking for Sunday at the U.S. Open.
The buddies who shared a house near Erin Hills also shared the misery after a windswept final round in which they never got themselves into the mix.
Fowler, as was the case in previous majors where he’s contended, did not put real pressure on the leaders.
Thomas, looking for more from where his record-setting 63 came from the day before, was out of the hunt by the middle of the front nine.
“Well, it wasn’t going to be like yesterday, regardless,” Thomas said, noting record-setting days are rare.
Fowler gave himself a break: “You kind of have to say, ‘Hey, it’s a major, I played well this week.’ ”
Fowler shot even-par 72 to finish at 10 under. That score would have won all but two of the previous 116 renditions of this championship. But rainsoftened Erin Hills was a new U.S. Open course and a much different creature than most of the previous hosts. Fowler’s 10 under was only good for a fifth-place tie.
Thomas bogeyed three of the first five holes and tied for ninth at 8 under, eight shots out of the lead.
The two Americans, the closest thing to household names and/or fa- vourites on a third-round leaderboard full of players looking for their first major, were left to tip their hat to countryman Brooks Koepka, who played close-to-flawless golf and tied the U.S. Open record at 16-under par.
“It made me feel a lot better seeing Brooks shoot 5 under,” Thomas said. “I would have had to play some pretty spectacular golf to catch him.”
He was spectacular Saturday, never more than when he made an eagle on No. 18 to record the 31st score of 63 in major history. His 9 under was the best-ever U.S. Open score in relation to par.
That put him in Sunday’s final pairing — a 2:54 p.m. tee time — and Thomas, an early bird, said it was “bizarre for me,” hanging around the house he shared with Fowler, trying to avoid the phone and the TV.
Once he got to the course, he never got comfortable.
His par putt on No. 2 spun out and he settled for bogey. A chip on the fourth almost went in, but trickled back to 4 feet and he blocked the par putt to the right.
“Obviously, that’s just one shot, but that was a pretty big turn,” Thomas said. “It went from (maybe) a good save and a tap-in par to now going 2 over through four.”
After his 68 on Saturday put him in contention, Fowler said he was looking forward to what was supposed to be a windier, tougher day at Erin Hills. But the wind wreaked havoc with his putts, blowing them off line and putting him in spots where “getting kind of the right gust at the right time was kind of key.” He never got closer than three strokes out of the lead.
It added another less-than-fantastic finish for Fowler at the majors.
At this year’s Masters, he entered the final round trailing by one but shot a 76 and was far from the drama between Garcia and Justin Rose.
“If you look at the negatives too much, you’re going to be stuck doing that the whole time,” Fowler said. “You have to measure success in different ways, not just by winning, just because that doesn’t happen a whole lot.”
Rickie Fowler finished tied for fifth in the U.S. Open after struggling in the final round on Sunday.