World number one Scottie Scheffler and fellow U.S. Open runner-up Will Zalatoris paid respect to winner Matt Fitzpatrick after a thrilling final round at The Country Club.

Scheffler started his round with four birdies on his first six holes, going on to shoot a 67 and finish five under for the tournament, one behind Fitzpatrick.

Zalatoris also finished at five under, and had a chance to force a playoff by making a birdie putt on the 18th hole, only for it to narrowly miss wide.

It was a remarkable result for England's Fitzpatrick, who became the first player since fellow Englishman Danny Willett in 2016 to mark his first career PGA Tour win with a major victory.

Scheffler told the media after his round that he was happy with his performance, and highlighted the massive improvements he has seen from Fitzpatrick this season.

"My game is still in a good spot," he said. "I gave myself a chance to win the U.S. Open. 

"Performed really well today under a lot of pressure – I made some key putts there in the beginning to kind of get today going. I just played some quality golf. 

"It just so happened the putts [later in the round] were going around the edge instead of in. That's kind of what it felt like was happening most of the week… a few breaks here or there, and I would be the one holding the trophy.

"Tip of the hat to 'Fitzy'. He's been playing really good golf, and he definitely deserved to win this event. I don't know if you guys noticed, but I feel like he has made some extreme improvements off the tee in a matter of months.

"I played with him in Austin this year, and he was not hitting it nearly as far as he is now. I don't know what he was doing. Maybe he was on the Bryson program or something. 

"He's hitting the ball really well and has been knocking on the door for a long time. He definitely deserves this win."

Zalatoris said he thought his playoff-forcing putt was dropping as he watched it travel, and gave respect to Fitzpatrick for what will go down as a legendary bunker save on the 18th hole.

"I did [think my putt was going in] – with about six feet to go, I thought I had it," he said.

"When he pulled it off [out of the bunker] – tip your cap, well done. Now I have to make birdie and hope he misses.

"I painted that shot right over the flagstick and just hit it a little deep. [Fitzpatrick's] golf shot was one-in-20, at best. To pull it off in that situation is incredible.

"He had to cut it around kind of an island of rough in the middle of that bunker. Probably – I don't know how far he had – I'd say roughly around 160, 170 [yards to the pin]. 

"So he's probably hitting a seven or a six-iron and opening it up, carving it off probably left edge of the green. And to get it to be just past pin-high, like I said, the fact he had a look was just awesome.

"When they show the highlights at future U.S. Opens, that's one that's going to be shown, because that was just incredible."

Rory McIlroy kept his good form rolling to finish fifth at the U.S. Open, but with nearly eight years since his last major win, he said he views it as "another missed opportunity".

The Northern Irishman is on an impressive run lately, finishing second at The Masters, fifth at the Wells Fargo Championship, eighth at the PGA Championship, and winning the Canadian Open in four of his past five starts.

He was in contention right from the word go this week, one stroke off the lead after the first round and four-under par heading into the weekend, but he shot a disappointing 73 on Saturday to take himself out of the group of real contenders.

Speaking to the media after his final round, McIlroy said while there were positives to take from the week, it "doesn't really mean anything" for him to bank another top-five finish.

"Another top-five in a major – I guess doesn't really mean anything," he said. "Yeah, the game's there. 

"I've got one more start next week in Hartford before I go to the Open Championship. I'll get two weeks of good rest before the Open and play some links golf and prepare and look forward to that. 

"Again, my game's in good shape. I've got one more chance this year to try to get that major.

"I feel like this is my fourth top-ten in a row coming off the back of three missed cuts in this event – so it's definitely been better – [but] it's still not quite close enough. 

"There was a few holes there today where I made the birdie and then did the reverse ones back with the bogey at the next. To win golf tournaments, you just can't do that.

"But it's there. It's close. I just have to stay patient. As I said, I've got one more opportunity this year to try to get a major, and I'm looking forward to that."

While he feels like this was "another missed opportunity", he said he knows he is playing well enough to win at the highest level.

"It will take a while [to reset and process the outcome] – I'll look back at this as another missed opportunity just as Southern Hills was," he said. "But missed opportunities are better than not contending at all – so that is a positive.

"I have to stay patient at this point because if I just keep putting myself in position, sooner or later it's going to be my day and I'm going to get one.

"It's not win or bust. It's not as if where I finished today is the same as not playing on the weekend. I guess when I look back, will I remember the fifth place I had at Brookline? Probably not.

"I played well enough to give myself a chance to win. I didn't get the job done, but I'm closer than I have been in a while, which is good."

Matt Fitzpatrick called it a dream come true to win his first major after shooting 68 in Sunday's final round to finish on six under, winning the U.S. Open by one stroke from Scottie Scheffler and Will Zalatoris.

The win is the 27-year-old Englishman's first on the PGA Tour, making him the first player to collect his debut victory in a major since Danny Willett won the 2016 Masters.

It also comes at the same course – The Country Club at Brookline – where Fitzpatrick won the 2013 U.S. Amateur.

Speaking to the media after his stunning triumph, he said this was the culmination of a lifetime of work.

"No words, it’s what you grow up dreaming of," he said. "It’s a day I’ve worked so hard for, for such a long time.

"There was a big monkey on my back trying to win over here, all they ever talked about was that, and to do it as a major for my first win – there’s nothing better."

Fitzpatrick gave himself every chance on Sunday by hitting 17-of-18 greens in regulation, and then produced one of the shots of his life on the 18th hole to work his way out of a bunker for the win.

"I’ve got to give myself credit, I stayed patient today," he said. "I said to [caddie] Billy [Foster] that if I could just hit 18 greens today I’d like to think I’d got a good chance – and I near as damn did it. 

"I got a couple of nice breaks there on 15, took advantage of it and that’s what it took in the end.

"Me and Billy spent quite a while talking about the 18th tee shot, undecided. I hit a three-wood today, into the bunker and if there was one shot that I’ve struggled with that I just do not want, it’s a fairway bunker shot. 

"I don’t know, ability just took over and it’s one of the best shots I’ve hit, of all time. When I saw it leave the sand, I couldn’t have been happier."

Back in 2013 when he won the U.S. Amateur, Fitzpatrick stayed with a host family, and he decided to stay with the same family – the Fultons – this time around.

"It’s meant the world, I’ve won twice now here," he said. "I’m trying to get every Tour event around here now and stay at the Fulton’s. 

"So to have them, or to stay with them this week, has made it so much more relaxing, less pressure – I’ve loved every minute."

He finished his trophy presentation ceremony with a message for Jack Nicklaus.

"I don’t know if Jack’s listening to this, but he gave me a bit of abuse at the start of the year," he said.

"I won the member’s member at his club – the Bears Club – and he said ‘finally, congratulations on winning in the States’. 

"So I can go back to him and say 'Jack, I’ve won a second time this year'."

Matt Fitzpatrick claimed his first-ever major win as he edged out Will Zalatoris and Scottie Scheffler to triumph at the U.S. Open at The Country Club on Sunday.

Englishman Fitzpatrick, who won the U.S Amateur at the same course in 2013, carded a two-under par 68 in his final round at The Country Club in Massachusetts to edge out playing partner Zalatoris and Scheffler by one shot, finishing on six under for the tournament. 

Zalatoris, who lost the US PGA Championship in a play-off to Justin Thomas last month, bogeyed the second and third holes but roared back with three birdies before the turn, while Fitzpatrick was two under through his first nine holes.

The Englishman opened his back nine with back-to-back bogeys, which paved the way for Zalatoris to open up a two-shot lead at the summit of the leaderboard after the 11th hole.

They were level pegging again after the 13th, though, largely in part to a stunning long birdie putt from Fitzpatrick.

And 27-year-old Fitzpatrick moved two clear on the 15th thanks to a birdie after Zalatoris could only manage a bogey.

The lead was reduced to one going into the final hole, and despite a poor tee shot that saw him find the bunker, Fitzpatrick held his nerve, playing a sublime shot out of the sand to set him up with two putts to seal his maiden major success.

And that came when, after Fitzpatrick sunk his putt for par, Zalatoris edged his effort just wide.

Zalatoris shared second with world number one Scheffler, while Hideki Matsuyama produced the round of the week - the 30-year-old from Japan hitting a bogey-free 65 to conclude his tournament on three under for a fourth-placed finish.

Collin Morikawa was left to rue a dismal 77 on Saturday, the two-time major champion bouncing back in style from that with a four under par 66 to finish tied fifth with Rory McIlroy, who had an up and down Sunday, and Adam Hadwin on two under for the tournament.

Further down the leaderboard, US PGA Championship winner Thomas carded a four over par 74 to finish the tournament on seven over par – the same as three-time major winner Jordan Spieth.

Hideki Matsuyama will "keep on grinding" after carding the lowest score in the U.S. Open on Sunday.

Posting a 65, Matsuyama was five under on the final round and finished the tournament three under overall.

Matsuyama headed into the clubhouse in fourth place, though his efforts were not enough to put him in contention for success, barring a major slip up from the leaders.

The 2021 Masters champion conceded he did not feel he was at his best over the course of the tournament, though it gives him confidence moving forward and highlighted his putting as a strength.

"To be honest, I don't feel like this is my 100 per cent performance, but it does give me a lot of boost on my confidence," Matsuyama said.

"So, I'll try my best, try to connect this momentum to my next game, and I'll be prepared for it.

"Definitely my putting was helping my game a lot. Rolling really good putts. 

"My shots were pretty decent too. I was able to target most of the greens, so I think that really helped me."

Collin Morikawa, the reigning champion of The Open, will head to St Andrews having learned from his experience at the U.S. Open.

Morikawa was among the favourites to clinch the season's third major at The Country Club this weekend, and was on course to challenge until carding a dismal 77 on Saturday.

He hit back with an impressive 65 on Sunday, though, putting him T5 at the time he went back into the clubhouse - only three off the lead.

While Morikawa required a huge slip up from all of the leaders to get him in contention for glory at Brookline, he was able to reflect on learning what he hopes will be a valuable lesson ahead of defending his Open title next month at St Andrews.

"I don't know if I found something. I think it just taught me that just go play golf," Morikawa told reporters.

"This year has been so much focused on trying to hit that cut and trying to be so perfect, and that's who I am, but just go out and play.

"Things are going to be tough. The ball is not going to go exactly where you want, but just figure it out.

"After this week it was a huge boost heading into the last little stretch of golf.

"I'm very excited. I think I'm going to have to really do a good job about prioritising every single day and splitting up what I need to focus on, whether it's the golf or whether I need to enjoy just being there at St. Andrews, being back as a defending champion.

"I think last year I was able to settle in a little quicker because I played the Scottish [Open] and you just kind of showed up. Time zones, everything, it was just go and play golf.

"This year I think there's going to be a couple more distractions just with being the defending champion and just knowing that it's such a golf-centred town, but that doesn't mean by Tuesday midday all I'll be focusing on is golf."

Morikawa went round in 69 on Thursday and built on that impressive start with a 66 in his second round in Massachusetts, yet it all fell apart on Saturday.

"I didn't see it coming. I think when you are playing well, you'll make doubles, right, and doubles aren't acceptable, just like three-putts," added Morikawa, who already has two major titles under his belt by the age of 25.

"Yesterday with two doubles, you just can't play with that. I know you can kind of rebound from that, and I think Scottie [Scheffler] kind of bounced back and still kept himself around there, but I just... the game and the approach shots and just off the tee, I was playing out of the rough yesterday, which is just impossible at a U.S. Open to play well and to hold and maintain pars.

"So I didn't think it was coming. I hope many seven-overs aren't coming in the future, but it just kind of made me refocus and kind of just get back into things, right, and just really start from the tee, get it in the fairway, and then worry about it from there."

Greg Norman has accused the PGA Tour of "deafening hypocrisy" following the backlash to the LIV Golf Invitational Series.

Norman is the figurehead of the controversial, Saudi Arabia-backed breakaway competition, which started earlier in June with a tournament in London.

Critics have accused LIV Golf as being another method of sports washing from the Saudi regime.

Players that competed in the inaugural LIV Golf event have been suspended from the PGA Tour.

However, Norman has hit back and claimed the PGA Tour are showing hypocrisy, with the Australian citing sponsorship money that is raked in from Saudi Arabia.

"Look, if they want to look at it in prism, then why does the PGA Tour have 23 sponsors within the PGA Tour doing 40 plus billion dollars worth of business with Saudi Arabia?" he told Fox News.

"Why is it OK for the sponsors? Why is it OK that there's a Saudi sponsor, Aramco, the largest sponsor of women's golf in the world? Why is it OK for them? Why is it not OK for these players?

"Will [PGA Tour commissioner] Jay Monahan go to each and every one of those CEOs of the 23 companies that are investing into Saudi Arabia and suspend them and ban them? The hypocrisy in all this, it's so loud. It's deafening."

Norman added: "The European Tour since 2009, had a golf tournament, the Saudi International that's in existence since 2019.

"And during that Saudi International, there were PGA Tour players who were given rights and waivers to go play there. 

"So to me, if golf is good for the world, golf is good for Saudi, and you're seeing that growth internally, it's extremely impressive."

Matt Fitzpatrick heads into the final round of the U.S. Open with a share of the lead and the confidence of a previous win in Brookline.

The 27-year-old, who recorded the best major result of his career last time out with a tie for fifth at the US PGA Championship, shot a 68 on Saturday to join Will Zalatoris on four under for the tournament.

Saturday's third round was a tricky one for most of the rest of the field, with only nine players now under par.

But Fitzpatrick knows exactly how to succeed at this course, having won the U.S. Amateur in Massachusetts in 2013.

He could now follow in the footsteps of the great Jack Nicklaus, who repeated his U.S. Amateur triumph at Pebble Beach in 1961 by winning the U.S. Open at the same course 11 years later.

"I certainly think it gives me an edge over the others," Fitzpatrick said, looking forward to Sunday's action. "I genuinely do believe that.

"It's a real, obviously positive moment in my career. It kind of kick-started me.

"To come back here and play so well again, it just gives me growing confidence round by round."

But Fitzpatrick knows he will not have it easy, with his experience of a tough final day at the US PGA – which he entered in second place – fresh in his mind.

"I think up until Southern Hills, I didn't really appreciate how hard it is actually to win a major," he said. "I've not challenged really up until then.

"I think, myself included, people on the outside maybe think it's easier than it is.

"You just have to look at Tiger [Woods]. He knocked off so many in such a quick span. That's why I think people think, 'oh, it's a piece of cake; it's like a regular Tour event'. But it's not.

"It brings a lot more to the mental aspect of the game than other regular events, and for me, I think it's been a big change from US PGA to come here to a golf course I know so well, and it's given me extra confidence."

Fitzpatrick might not get a better chance to land his first major win, and he accepts: "Would my career be incomplete if I didn't have one? Sure, yeah.

"I would be disappointed if I didn't, yeah. I genuinely would be disappointed if I didn't.

"I feel like certainly now these last two majors, I feel so much more comfortable out here. My game has changed for the better. I've given myself more chances.

"I definitely feel like I have much more of a chance now to win a major than I ever have done in my career, obviously."

Scottie Scheffler is enjoying the tricky conditions at this year's U.S. Open, sitting two strokes from co-leaders Will Zalatoris and Matthew Fitzpatrick heading into Sunday's final round.

Despite a strong start, the world number one could only manage a one-over 71 at The Country Club on Saturday, finishing on two-under after 54 holes.

In windy and overcast conditions, only seven players posted scores under par on moving day in Brookline, with nine under par for the tournament after three rounds.

After his round on Saturday, Scheffler was far from bemoaning the difficulties he or the field has faced, insisting it is why he is playing the tournament.

"I think the U.S. Open is very taxing, mentally and physically," he said. "I think that's all part of what this makes this tournament so fun. You're going to get tested all different kinds of ways, whether it be physically, mentally, whatever it is. This golf tournament is going to test you.

"That's why I show up here. I think that's kind of the fun of it. If every golf tournament was like this, it would be in for a long season for all of us. A few times a year I think it's a ton of fun."

After a spectacular eagle on the par-five eighth to go three-under over the front nine, the conditions bit Scheffler hard, posting a double bogey and then three consecutive bogeys between 11 and 14.

A birdie on the 17th was followed up with a massive par save on the final hole after finding the bunker, and the usually stoic 25-year-old let out a rare show of emotion, triumphantly pumping his fist after a tough one-putt.

"It was good because I hit my second shot, and I hit it exactly where I wanted to," Scheffler said. "It got gusted, and it came up short. Where we thought the ball was going to end up was right on top of the bunker where I had no stance.

"So, a hole in which I really thought after a good shot on the second round I was going to walk away with five, to get out of there with four was definitely a big boost.

"I knew how hard the putt was, and that's why I was so frustrated because I had a chance to get it somewhat close, and I didn't hit a great shot."

While seven of the top 12 players heading into Saturday’s third round at the U.S. Open made at least one double bogey in strong wind and cool temperatures, Rory McIlroy was not among them.

The 2011 U.S. Open champion and four-time major winner made just one birdie in his score of three-over 73 on moving day at Brookline, but his putter provided salvation late. 

He was able to keep himself within striking distance with a string of par saves, to sit three shots back from co-leaders Will Zalatoris and Matthew Fitzpatrick heading into the final round on Sunday at The Country Club.

"It was one of the toughest days on a golf course I’ve had in a long time,” McIlroy said afterwards.

"I just needed to grind it out, and I did on the back nine. To play that back nine at even par today was a really good effort, I thought. Just kept myself in the tournament. That's all I was trying to do. Just keep hanging around.

"I had some really good putts for pars coming in, 13, 15, great up-and-down on 16, good putt on 17. Then was really fortunate at the last to get that drop from the grandstand and be able to hit it on the green from there."

With only nine players under par for the tournament, blustery and overcast conditions provided palpable difficulty on Saturday.

"I know guys aren’t going to go out there and shoot the lights out," McIlroy said. "I mean, 67 from Will out there today is unbelievable. Such a good score. 68 from Fitz as well.

"I certainly thought I was going to be a few shots further back than I was at the end of the day, but Jon [Rahm] struggled there coming in.

"Even though it was such a tough day and feel like I battled well and whatever, to still only be three back going into tomorrow is a good thing for me."

Jon Rahm remains upbeat coming into the final round at U.S. Open, after a difficult Saturday saw him finish one stroke from tied leaders Will Zalatoris and Matthew Fitzpatrick.

The world number two held the outright lead approaching the 18th hole at Brookline, but a double bogey put him on one-over for the day and three-under after 54 holes.

Blustery and overcast conditions made moving day at The Country Club more about survival, and Rahm remains within contention despite his disappointing finish to the round.

"Good round of golf," he said afterwards. "It was obviously extremely difficult conditions, the wind being a little bit higher and stronger than the last few days, a different direction. Then the course being a little bit firmer, right, that's just a recipe for difficulty.

"Obviously, I think a lot of people are just thinking about 18. The truth is, 18, it was six good shots. Unfortunately, it added up to 6, but it was all good swings.

"If anything, it was maybe a choice or a decision on the fairway bunker, but swings were good, so execution was proper. So I'm happy about that in that sense."

The defending champion hit the bunker with his tee shot on the 18th and compounded that by hitting its lip and staying there, before finding another bunker with his next shot and two-putting for the double bogey.

It came after three birdies between 14 and 17 to put him on five-under, momentarily moving ahead of Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick as conditions dramatically cooled, placing further difficulty on shot and club selection.

"After I hit the shot, I realised the ball was a little bit deeper in the sand than I could really truly see," he said.

"But I think I got maybe -- tried to be a little too perfect with the shot. I had a 9-iron in hand. That's plenty to get over that lip.

"It is what it is. I think I got a little bit too cute with the shot."

Will Zalatoris and Matthew Fitzpatrick share the lead coming into the final round at the U.S. Open, finishing a tough Saturday on four-under par at Brookline.

Only nine players at this third major of the year have scores under par after 54 holes at the Country Club, and the tied lead between Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick only came after Jon Rahm's dreadful final hole in overcast and blustery conditions.

The world number two had the outright lead coming into his final hole on moving day, but three consecutive bunker shots and a two-putt led to a double-bogey on the par-four 18th and three-under after 54.

Zalatoris and Fitzpatrick have not won as professionals in the United States, with the former agonisingly finishing second at the 2021 Masters and this year's PGA Championship.

With Zalatoris finishing his round earlier in the day, Rahm finished as the conditions further cooled, placing particular difficulty on the approach to the green with club selection.

A visibly frustrated Rahm was able to compensate with some exceptional putting on the back nine, however, sinking a long birdie putt on the 14th to put him level with the two leaders. Three birdies between 14 and 17 were undone by the last hole, however.

Scottie Scheffler recovered from a double-bogey and three consecutive bogeys between 11 and 14 to finish Saturday on two-under, securing a birdie on the 17th before a massive par save on the last after hitting the bunker.

The usually stoic Scheffler did not hide his emotions with a triumphant fist-pump after the save, which left the world number one tied with Adam Hadwin and Keegan Bradley.

Joel Dahmen and Collin Morikawa fell down the leaderboard after opening Saturday with the lead on five-under. Morikawa's natural left-to-right game particularly suffered, shooting a seven-over 77.

Dahmen is joined on one-under by Sam Burns and Rory McIlroy, who only made seven greens in regulation but stayed in contention with a string of saves on the back nine.

 

Shot of the day

After two birdies and a bogey through his first seven holes, Scheffler really shone on the eighth.

His stunning eagle on the par-five hole saw him leap into a two-shot lead at the summit of the leaderboard.

Player of the day - Will Zalatoris

In a day characterised by survival in blustery conditions at Brookline, Will Zalatoris was one of the few on Saturday who thrived.

His ball-striking shone on an overcast day, scoring only one bogey as the rest of the field struggled to find the green.

 

Chipping in

Zalatoris: "Yeah, that was brutal. When I made a mistake, I made sure I was on the fat side of the green or having room where I could maybe at least chip one up there from eight to 10 feet."

Scheffler: "There's a lot of trees on this golf course, and it's gusty as well. So it's definitely unpredictable. I think that's what happens when you get these foresty golf courses, and then with the gusts, I mean, that little golf ball is just getting thrown around all over the place." 

 

A little birdie told me...

- Victory on Sunday would see Fitzpatrick emulate Jack Nicklaus, winning the U.S. Open at the same course he won the U.S. Amateur, after beating Oliver Goss at the Country Club in 2013.

Justin Thomas says he is relishing the tough U.S. Open conditions despite seeing his chances of winning back-to-back majors surely disappear.

The 29-year-old, who won the US PGA Championship last month, carded a third-round 72 on Saturday to leave him on three over par going into the final day.

Thomas had no complaints over the set-up at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, where the wind made life difficult for the best players in the world once again.

"I played really, really well," he told a media conference. "It was very difficult out there. I just didn't get anything out of it.

"I fought back and stayed very patient for having some things not go my way. It's a bummer to finish with a bogey on 18, but I really played solid today.

"I hit it really well. I drove it well. Hit my irons really well. Just had a hard time saving pars when I missed greens, but yeah, tee to green I played beautifully.

"I said to Bones [his caddie Jim Mackay] walking up 18, this is how a U.S. Open should be. It's very difficult. Par is great score on a lot of holes. Bogeys aren't going to kill you.

"We don't do this very often, and I think it's very, very fitting and totally acceptable to have this kind of test and this difficult setup for a U.S. Open, and it's strictly because of conditions.

"The greens are getting firm. It's windy, and it should be tough."

Will Zalatoris moved into the lead on four under with with a hugely impressive three-under 67 and he Matthew Fitzpatrick joined him when he birdied the 15th.

Scottie Scheffler had been two shots clear before a double bogey at 11, followed by another three dropped shots in as many holes.

 

Phil Mickelson tried to focus on the positives after a brutal week at the U.S. Open, as he finished round two 11 over par for the tournament.

This remains the only major Mickelson has never won after he missed the cut by eight strokes.

All eyes were on the 52-year-old, who has finished second at the U.S. Open on six occasions, following his return to action in the first LIV Golf Invitational.

Mickelson joined the controversial breakaway series for the opening tournament in London last week, having been out of the spotlight for a period.

Comments Mickelson made about his commitment to the Saudi-backed league prompted outrage and led to him taking time away from the sport.

This was therefore his first tournament back in the United States since the Farmers Insurance Open in January – another event at which he missed the cut.

But Mickelson at least showed some improvement on Friday with a three-over 73, having carded a dismal 78 in the first round.

"It was okay. I had a good day," he said. "I enjoyed the week. I wish I had played better."

Despite his move to LIV Golf, Mickelson appeared to remain popular with the fans in Brookline, and he added: "The fans here have always been terrific.

"They really support all sports, and I love it when we bring golf here because they create a really special atmosphere.

"I missed competing, but I also enjoyed some time away."

Joel Dahmen is a surprise co-leader with Collin Morikawa after 36 holes of the U.S. Open at The Country Club – and he was contemplating skipping the qualifier.

Dahmen, 34, is one of three players to shoot 68 or better in both rounds, finishing the first round one off the lead after a 67, before backing it up with a 68 on Friday. Hayden Buckley and Aaron Wise both posted a pair of 68s, and are one stroke off the lead in a tie for third.

In his second trip around the course, Dahmen had a strong front nine, birdieing the first hole as well as the fifth and eighth, with a bogey on the second. He started the back nine poorly, with a bogey on 10, but followed it with seven pars and a long birdie putt.

Speaking to the media after his round, he confirmed the story that he almost pulled out of the qualifier where he punched his ticket.

"There was a lot of discussion leading up to it, yeah, the prior week," he said. "I told my wife I wasn't going to do it.

"Then I was tired at Memorial and said I wasn't going to do it. I was never really going to do it until I… sort of played better at Memorial and the game was there.

"My coach, Rob Rashell, came out and things started to trend in the right direction. And then [my caddie] Geno [Bonnalie], I felt bad because he didn't switch his flight when he could have got home Sunday night, so at that point I had to stick it out."

Clearly, he is thrilled with his decision.

"I'm incredibly happy now for sure," he said. "I mean, sometimes you take for granted what you have out here a little bit. 

"I think this is my eighth or ninth major championship, and you think not long ago I would have done a lot of things to play in one, and to think that I have an opportunity just to skip one, kind of looking back, even this whole week, you don't appreciate really.

"I've played 130-odd events. I've been six years out here. It's easy to get in a lull and be like, you just go home for two weeks and hang out and everything is all hunky-dory, but when you get here, everything changes as soon as you get on property. 

"It's a USGA event. It's huge. People everywhere. So, yeah, that changes your mind pretty quickly."

After finding some form recently, Dahmen said he is starting to encounter fans who know who he is – something he does not believe will ever feel normal.

"It is unbelievable to me how many people know my name or yell for me out there," he said. "It's weird. 

"I'm getting recognized a little bit more off the golf course – my wife will look at me, like, what is happening? 

"It's not normal. I don't know if I'll ever get used to it, but it comes with good golf."

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