ERIN, Wisconsin, June 17 (Reuters) - A crowded leaderboard missing most of golf’s big names has set the stage for a wide open run for the U.S. Open trophy as third-round play got underway on Saturday at a steamy Erin Hills.
Getting a weekend off are the world’s top three ranked players; number one Dustin Johnson, number two Rory McIlroy and number three Jason Day, who all missed the cut leaving a decidedly unglamorous leaderboard.
The last six majors have crowned first-time champions and that trend looks poised to continue at Erin Hills where you have to look way down the leaderboard to 19th before finding a major winner in U.S. Masters champion Sergio Garcia of Spain.
With 12 players within two shots of the lead, the U.S. Open leaderboard could see a lot of changes on what is known as “moving day”.
Sprinkled through the leaderboard are a few familiar names capable of lighting up the links-style layout with American Rickie Fowler, Englishman Paul Casey and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama all tipped as future major winners.
The future could be now for Casey who starts the day at seven-under in a four-way tie for the lead alongside compatriot Tommy Fleetwood and Americans Brooks Koepka and Brian Harman.
One stroke back are a trio of Americans in J.B. Holmes, Jamie Lovemark and first-round leader Fowler.
Matsuyama, at number four the highest ranked player still in the field, starts at five-under along with young South Korean Kim Si-woo, amateur Cameron Champ, PGA Tour rookie Xander Schauffele and veteran Brandt Snedeker.
The final pairing of Casey and Harman are scheduled to tee off at 2:29 p.m. (1925 GMT), but a forecast calling for the possibility of thunderstorms could disrupt third-round action. (Editing by Larry Fine)