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.

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