There is no better defense than a good offense. This strategic maxim was deployed yesterday in a big way by Jon Rahm during 17 holes on the third day of the US Open. But a double 'bogey' in the last dropped him from first to third position ahead of the last round on Sunday.
Until that moment, the Spaniard had been an example of a cool head and of knowing how to play with his weapons: millimetric long shots and remote-controlled 'puts' who did not care about the distance to end up falling into the hole. All this, with a relaxed mind that did not care about the failures that were inevitably going to occur. Thus, a 'bogey' at 2 kept him above par for most of the tee holes, until he recovered it at 7; and other stumbles on 8 and 13 hardly hurt him, since they could have left him out of all bets.
However, that was the turning point for the Basque. From then on, he hit three birdies in four attempts and appeared at the closing hole as the leader (-5) with a one-shot advantage over Will Zalatoris and Matthew Ftizpatrick (-4). The best Rahm was back on the scene, ready to retain the title he had so brilliantly captured in San Diego last year. The bad thing is that on this occasion the day could not have the ideal ending, without being bad.
The start of the 18th went into a 'bunker' on the left and there Jon hit the worst shot of the week. He wasn't able to get the ball high enough, it bounced off the tall grass and landed back on the sand. From here the problems followed one another, with a third shot that fell short in the trap prior to the 'green'; and then two 'puts' for a double puncture that dropped him to third place (-3), one hit from the head shared by the American and the Englishman, who were already waiting in the clubhouse.
Other favorites like Scottie Scheffler (-2) or Rory McIlroy (-1) are also lurking among the nine who are still under par after three rounds. With a field that is presumed even harder for the fourth, it will be necessary to see how many remain in the red.