After a week of talk about the greens, the course, Tiger Woods, the setup, Patrick Reed vs. Jordan Spieth and par 4s vs. par 5s, someone is going to win the U.S. Open tonight in primetime on Fox (provided there’s no Monday playoff). Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson and Branden Grace are tied atop the leaderboard at 4-under. Louis Oosthuizen, Shane Lowry, J.B. Holmes and Cameron Smith sit three shots back at 1-under. On a sunny and slightly breezy day at Chambers Bay, birdies have been scarce for the morning wave of players, which only means one thing: The man with the most pars likely wins this thing.
If you’ve missed some of the action this week, here’s all you need to know ahead of the final round.
1) There’s one major closer in this group. And it’s Spieth.
Johnson famously botched the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in 2010, the same year he blew up Sunday in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He’s not the Best Player Without A Major Title for nothing. You’ll hear about Day’s U.S. Open record all day — three top-5 finishes in four events — but that’s misleading. He was not truly in contention in 2011 or 2014 when Rory McIlroy and Martin Kaymer ran away with victories. His only real chance on Sunday was in 2013, when he was tied with Phil Mickelson and Justin Rose through 10 holes at Merion. Today will be Day’s first appearance in a final pairing at a major. Grace is 6-for-6 in closing off 54-hole leads, but never in a major, and never in the United States.
Spieth held off a charging Mickelson and Rose just a few months ago at Augusta National to win the Masters. He’s proven himself under final-round, major championship pressure.
2) Dustin Johnson’s length is the ultimate x-factor.
Three par 4s at Chambers Bay sit in the record books as the longest par 4s in U.S. Open history, each measuring well over 500 yards. With the USGA cleverly hiding pins on almost every hole, club selection on approach shots will continue to be a huge factor. Day is by no means short off the tee, but Johnson hit 14 of 14 fairways yesterday, and even though he shot even par for the day, he put on a driving clinic that won’t be matched by any player in the field.
3. The greens are on their last legs.
The USGA pushed the putting surfaces at Chambers Bay to the brink, and the result is a bumpy mess that could decide the national championship. It already almost sent Billy Horschel over the edge in his Sunday morning round.
4. Don’t sleep on Oosty.
Oosthuizen went from shooting 77 in his opening round to being three shots off the lead entering the final round. All it took was back-to-back 66s. Oosty has one major victory — the 2010 British Open — and has only two top-10 finishes since in majors since then. No matter. The South African has a simple, repeatable golf swing that has held up under major pressure in the past. And he knows he can go low at Chambers Bay.