Fowler back in the thick of it at US Open

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Justin Thomas reacts after his birdie on the 17th hole during the third round of the U.S. Open golf tournament Saturday, June 17, 2017, at Erin Hills in Erin, Wis.

The total purse for the tournament is $12 million, with the base payment of $10,000 per golfer who qualified but missed the cut.

On an Erin Hills course that again lacked enough wind to be the stern test the U.S. Open wants, Brian Harman weaved his way through traffic at the top of the leaderboard Saturday for a 5-under 67 and a one-shot lead over Thomas, Brooks Koepka and Tommy Fleetwood. No, that's not a typo. There were five players in double digits Saturday at Erin Hills.

As dominant as Woods was, he never reached 10-under par until the final round.

"I had no idea (I was close to a record) in terms of the relation to par", Thomas was quoted as saying by BBC Sport. "I'd love to have another one of those", Thomas said.

The big-hitting 27-year-old fired six birdies and a solitary bogey to finish four shots ahead of overnight leader Brian Harman and Japan's Hideki Matsuyama, whose closing 66 will take him to second in the world rankings.

He rolled in an 18-foot birdie putt on No. 5 from the edge of the green that broke so severely that he stood with his toes facing the hole and rapped the ball toward his left foot.

"It's hard when you're out there but when I look back, I'll think, 'I played well there". I would like to see another one here down the road, sure.

Kaymer got the good end of the draw when rain arrived at Pinehurst No. 2, and he opened with rounds of 65-65 to reach 10-under 130 and build a six-shot lead going into the weekend.

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"This is my first time in contention in a major, so whatever happens I'll be doing my best and seeing how well I can finish".

"Usually when you shoot even in a U.S. Open and you're one off the lead, you're not six down afterward", J.B. Holmes said.

"I thought that the USGA did a phenomenal job this week of allowing the golf course to be what it is and play the way it's supposed to play".

Thomas bogeyed three of his first five holes to drop back to 8 under. Regardless of the weather, it didn't take long for the 24-year-old Thomas to understand the significance of his record round. Smiles are rare at a U.S. Open when a player finishes before the leaders tee off.

Speaking after a nervy ending to his round which ended with a vital bogey putt, Fleetwood added: "It was uncharted territory for me, leading a major but from the minute I teed off I felt comfortable in my swing".

Thomas was already on course for a share of the lead as he stepped up to the 18th having carded nine birdies against two bogeys in a spectacular round.

"It seems so long ago but to be just ho-humming along a couple over par and be able to reel off six in a row when I did, it just sort of shows me that it's there", he said. "We're definitely in good position for tomorrow".

Fowler likes his chances of breaking his major duck on Sunday.

Then again, none of the top 16 on the leaderboard has ever won a major.

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