Rory McIlroy gave himself the challenge of climbing the mountain as Matt Fitzpatrick continued to fight for his first major title at the 122nd US Open in Brooklyn.
Itzpatrick shared the lead with American Will Zalatoris before the final round and made an impressive start with two birds and three pair on the first five holes.
The 27-year-old from Sheffield shot from seven feet on third and hit a short par-four five for the birdie twice after driving the green on the hole, costing McIlroy and defending champion John Rahm a shot.
Six under par, Fitzpatrick tied for the lead with world No. 1 Scotty Scheffler, who scored first from a superb fairway approach and landed extra shots in second, fourth and sixth.
McIlroy also hit first, but endured a rollercoaster round with three birdies, three scarecrows and just one par on his first seven holes, leaving him five short of the lead.
Fitzpatrick played in the final group for the second straight Major, partnering with Mito Pereira last month at the PGA USA Championship in the Southern Hills.
A final 73 meant Fitzpatrick missed the playoffs by two shots, but the Englishman’s memory of his 2013 U.S. Amateur victory in Brooklyn kept him alive all week.
“I guess it wasn’t until the Southern Hills that I really realized how difficult it really is to win a major,” Fitzpatrick said after his third round of 68.
“I didn’t really challenge until then. I think, including myself, and people from the outside, perhaps they think that this is easier than it really is.
“You just have to look at Tiger (Woods). He shot down so many in such a short amount of time. That’s why I think people think, oh it’s a piece of cake, it’s like a normal tour. But it’s not.
“It brings a lot more of a psychological aspect to the game than other regular competitions and I think it was a big change for me from the US PGA when I came here to the golf course that I know so well and it gave me extra confidence. “.
All three previous US Opens held in Brooklyn ended in the playoffs, and tournament officials mentioned two of them on the last two holes.
The 17th pin position was typical of that used in the final round in 1913, when local amateur Francis Ouimet made a critical birdie en route to victory.
And 18th was in the same position as in the final round in 1988 when Curtis Strange saved par from the green bunker to force a playoff against Nick Faldo.
Strange won the 18-hole playoff by four shots and successfully defended his title the following year.
The good, the bad, and the ugly were all on display as the early entrants made it through the extra testing conditions for the final round.
Good golf came primarily from Italy’s Guido Milozzi, who covered the top nine in 31 en route to a superb 66.
Poor golf was caused by a number of causes, including two-time US Open winner Brooks Kepka, who made two birdies, as well as two scarecrows and two double scarecrows, to be eliminated at 39 en route to the final 77.
And the deformity was courtesy of American Grayson Murray, who hurled his stick into the fescue grass on the seventh and then flicked his stick on his knee after a bad run to the 10th. Murray eventually signed on for 80.