Matthew Wolff will sleep on a 54-hole lead for the first time at a major championship. Of course, this time 50 days ago, he had never even played in a major championship. At Winged Foot on Sunday, the 21-year-old will take a two-stroke lead into the final round of the 2020 U.S. Open.
Wolff, following his world-class 65 on Saturday, is trying to become the first golfer since Francis Ouimet in 1913 to win a U.S. Open in his debut. Coincidentally (or not?), the 107-year anniversary of Ouimet's win at The Country Club is on Sunday, Sept. 20. If Wolff does win on Sunday, he would be the youngest major winner since Tiger Woods took the 1997 Masters at 21 and youngest golfer to win the U.S. Open since Bobby Jones in 1923.
That's a lot to think about for somebody who has just three top 10s on the PGA Tour in his career. The talent with Wolff is undeniable -- you don't shoot two rounds of 66 or better in a U.S. Open without immense talent -- but we've been here before with him just a few months ago. He took a three-stroke lead over Bryson DeChambeau into the final round of the Rocket Mortgage Classic, and DeChambeau (who will be his playing partner on Sunday at Winged Foot) got him by three.
Wolff said after his round that that experience taught him a lot. Whether the lessons took will be on display on Sunday afternoon at his nation's championship. He won't have to be perfect over the final 18 holes because of what he did over the first three days, but he'll feel some he heat he maybe has not felt before from both a course that will be dialed in and a chase pack that will be getting after it. If he stumbles, there are some absolute stars just behind him waiting to clean up the first major of the season.
Here are the six guys who can usurp Wolff and win the U.S. Open on Sunday.
1. Bryson DeChambeau (-3): He closed like a boss after nearly losing control of the round early (he said one of his governors broke down?). It has become clear that the rough at Winged Foot is not ejecting players like we thought it would, and because of that, DeChambeau's "hit it literally as far as you possibly can and worry about the rest later" style is working. He's putting it a lot worse than Wolff right now. If that flips on Sunday, so too might the tournament.
2. Xander Schauffele (+1): This is such a perfect position for him. His round on Saturday got wild in the middle with four straight 3s, but he faded pretty hard coming home. Still, he wins from behind a lot. If you erase Wolff and DeChambeau (a massive if but still possible!) Schauffele would probably be the pick to emerge from the chase pack.
3. Hideki Matsuyama (E): Of the top nine guys in the field, only Matsuyama is losing strokes with his putter. If he has a Sunday where he hits putts -- just one time! -- he can legitimately win this thing. He's currently gaining nearly 4 strokes a round ball-striking. It's been a show, but he has to prove that he can close it out, and I don't really trust that right now.
4. Louis Oosthuizen (-1): It depends on how difficult the course plays on Sunday. If it's a bear, you can envision him making 16 pars and winning. If you have to get after it a little bit, I'm not sure he has the firepower right now. Oosthuizen ranked No. 164 on the PGA Tour last year in final-round scoring. Of the top guys, he and Schauffele are the ones getting it done most with the putter.
5. Rory McIlroy (+1): McIlroy said after his 68 on Saturday that even if he's six back going into Sunday's finale, that's not a lot on this golf course. He's now six back. This is not exactly the formula McIlroy has used to win four majors over the course of his career, but he is second in this tournament in strokes gained off the tee and the short game has been immaculate. He'll need to be nearly perfect on Sunday with iron in his hand to have a chance.
6. Harris English (E): Doing it with his short game thus far, which is fine, but I'm not sure it stands up for 72 holes at a track like this one. These are probably the only seven golfers who have a chance to win it on Sunday, and he's the least likely of the bunch.