Major-less leaderboard will bring endless drama on Sunday

With no previous major champions within six strokes of the lead heading into the final round of the U.S. Open, it appears a first-time major winner will be crowned for the seventh straight event.

Brian Harman holds a one-stroke lead after 54 holes, but faces stiff competition with Justin Thomas, Brooks Koepka, Tommy Fleetwood, and Rickie Fowler rounding out the top five spots.

While that group boasts zero major victories between them, they are all among the top 50 players in the world, and have shown in the past that they can beat a strong field in regular Tour events.

Here’s how the top five stacks up heading into Sunday:

Brian Harman

Position: 1st (-12)
World rank: 50th
Career wins: 2
Major top-10’s: 0

Harman holds the lead but has never finished better than 26th in a major before, a number that will certainly cast doubts heading into Sunday. He showed his championship mettle just over a month ago, however, drilling an incredible putt on the 18th hole to win the Wells Fargo Championship.

Justin Thomas

Position: T-2 (-11)
World rank: 13th
Career wins: 4
Major top-10’s: 1

Whether or not Thomas wins on Sunday, his performance at Erin Hills will forever be remembered thanks to his record-setting 63 on Saturday. It’s incredibly hard to follow such a low round with another strong showing, but Thomas followed a 59 with rounds of 64, 65, and 65 in winning the Sony Open in January. The pressure of the U.S. Open is a bit different, however, and Thomas’ start on the first five holes will be very important.

Brooks Koepka

Position: T-2 (-11)
World rank: 22nd
Career wins: 2 (1 PGA, 1 European Tour)
Major top-10’s: 4

Brooks Koepka is undoubtedly one of the best players on the PGA Tour, which makes the fact he’s only registered one victory very surprising. Finishing strong has been a major issue for the 27-year-old, as he ranked 106th on Tour this season in final-round scoring average. The fact he’s not in the last group tomorrow could be a huge benefit to his chances.

Tommy Fleetwood

Position: T-2 (-11)
World rank: 33rd
Career wins: 2 (European Tour)
Major top-10’s: 0

Fleetwood may not be well-known in North America, but the Englishman has been a stalwart on the European Tour for years. He’s refused to waiver through three rounds at Erin Hills, and ranks in the top 10 in driving accuracy and greens-in-regulation this week. Along with the solid ball-striking, he’s also ranked fifth in putting through three rounds, and even though he’s inexperienced in majors, it’s tough to see him falling out of contention with those impressive numbers.

Rickie Fowler

Position: 5th (-10)
World rank: 9th
Career wins: 6 (4 PGA, 2 European Tour)
Major top-10’s: 6

Fowler is two strokes back, but is listed alongside Thomas as the betting favorite to win the trophy. The 28-year-old is a popular pick for the “best player to have never won a major” title, and is a good bet to shed that label on Sunday. Fowler is another player who has had issues with final-round scoring as he ranks 97th on Tour in that category, but as the most battle-tested player in the top five, he’s likely to be involved at the end on Sunday.

(Photos courtesy: Action Images)

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