He's not out of it mathematically, but there are too many good players between him and the lead for him to realistically contend.
A slight sprinkle hit hole No. 18 as the second to last group of Tommy Fleetwood and Brooks Koepka made their way onto the green. Possibly the public wants what Rickie Fowler Saturday called more "offense".
"I'm looking forward to my shot at it, and I know it's not going to be an easy day. I'm just so excited to give myself a great chance to win this golf tournament". He two-putted for birdie, and he rolled in a 25-foot birdie putt on the 17th.
"I obviously needed to nuke it", Thomas said of his 3-wood, which he later called his best of the round. And it's just kind of getting that out of your head and just playing against who you're playing against like it's a regular tournament. "And it came out nicely". They each hit their first shot into the rough.
"That means I'm a part of history", Thomas said after the round. I followed them around for about four holes and it was interesting to see Brian trying to fit in with the others. If somebody shoots 9-under tomorrow in the top few then I'll have to shoot 10, I guess.
"The guys at the scoring table told me that, so I was pretty pumped about that".
So far 31 rounds of 63 have been recorded in a major by 29 different players (including Greg Norman at Augusta National), yet no one has gone below that. "You've seen 5, 6, 7, 9-under out there. Whether that was two back, two up front or tied for the lead - let's go". Then he picked up a birdie on 12 with a 9-footer. "I got in the hazard on one and pulled the 4-iron on the par-3", Koepka said.
The disappointed 21-year-old declined to be interviewed. In the Sony Open, he became the seventh player to shoot a sub-60 round with a 59. Palmer shot a 65 after going into the final round trailing by seven shots. Someone could get out early and shoot a low score. So far, there have been 49 rounds in the 60s.
"I don't think there's anything we can read into his game", he said. Instead of the overly cautious approach that normally prevails at most U.S. Opens, anyone thinking about holding the trophy will need to compile a barrage of birdies to have any chance.
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.
"I'll take exactly where I'm at", Fowler said. But he's proven for a long time how good he is. He's won twice before on the PGA Tour, including this year's Wells Fargo Championship. Tiger Woods did it in 2000 when he won by 15 strokes. "I don't know what I'm going to feel tonight or if I'm going to sleep well".
"Rory thrives on his confidence being up and he gets that from competitive play and performances in competitive situations".
The last six majors have produced six first-time champions and that trend looks set to continue with the leaderboard dominated by mostly unheralded names.
Jordan Spieth hit probably one of the best tee shots he has made all weekend at the U.S. Open.
The 27-year-old Koepka grabbed control with three straight birdies on the back nine at Erin Hills.
Not much could ruin the day Thomas had Saturday, though he said it may have been his grumbling stomach that caused that eagle putt to go begging. "I think that's good enough for my career as the first time. When I get it going, I don't fear it like I used to of stalling".