But Thomas' lead, which sat at two shots after he eagled 18, lasted only temporarily as Fleetwood and Harman each birdied Nos.
Thomas finished in style, and it had nothing to do with his hot pink trousers. He missed the second green with a sand wedge, and he missed a short par putt on No. 4 after he thought he almost chipped in, only for the wind to blow the ball back some 4 feet. He proved at The Players Championship that he's scared of no man, but wondering if Kim to go Players and U.S. Open back-to-back seems like a big ask for an inexperienced guy.
"The finish was awesome".
Harman recorded a round of 67 to eclipse the top players on the leaderboard, and he will believe he has a strong chance of claiming a major.
"That means I'm a part of history", Thomas told reporters. I felt I hit good shots and had a good feel of the speed of the greens today.
And he still has a long way to go. He became the first player to reach 13 under at the U.S. Open in the second round, but double-bogeyed 18 to close at 11 under and with a six-shot lead.
Fowler will have to play better than he did Saturday to win, and that's saying something. He rolled a long birdie putt off the sixth green and made bogey, and he dropped two more shots with three-putt bogeys. "I didn't really expect to have to get up-and-down for par on a downwind par 5". Harman had back-to-back birdies on 14 and 15 before closing out with three straight pars to take over the lead.
"It's going to be a really cool day for someone", Fowler said. Hopefully I do. I'll take it one step at a time. "I know it's not going to be an easy day, but I'm looking forward to getting the job done". At 9 under is Players Championship victor Si Woo Kim (68). This back-peddling inevitably left him with too much to do as others on the leaderboard collected early shots.
A 12-times victor on the PGA Tour and the US captain for this autumn's Presidents Cup, Stricker was denied a request for a special exemption into the field and had to qualify. Only Rory McIlroy, on his way to victory at Congressional in 2011, has managed a lower score to par through 54 holes than Harman's current number. The 9-iron out of the dreaded fescue at No. 12 found its way surely to a non-dreaded 10 feet.
"(The wind is) going to blow and the scores could be a good deal higher tomorrow if the weather comes to what they're predicting", Harman said.
But the work is not done. A dozen others are within six shots of the lead. It's been shorter but harder the next two rounds, and ranks as the seventh most difficult hole on the course.
"This is my first time in contention in a major, so whatever happens I'll be doing my best and seeing how well I can finish".