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  • The leaderboard at the 2022 U.S. Open is loaded with some of golf’s biggest names entering Saturday. Here are five players to watch heading into third-round action at The Country Club in Brookline.

    Collin Morikawa (-5)

    BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 16: Collin Morikawa of the United States plays his shot from the third tee during round one of the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club on June 16, 2022 in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

    BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 16: Collin Morikawa of the United States plays his shot from the third tee during round one of the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club on June 16, 2022 in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

    Morikawa’s 66 on Friday sends him into the weekend leading the tournament at 5 under par, and there is no doubt he is capable of winning a major. The 25-year-old has 5 wins on tour, two of them majors: the 2020 PGA Championship and the 2021 Open. He is coming off a 5th place finish at the Masters and finished 4th at last year’s U.S. Open.

    It seems as if it’s only a matter of time before Morikawa adds another major title to his collection, but he’ll face stiff competition from a strong leaderboard this weekend in Brookline.

    Tee time: 3:45 pm

  • Rory McIlroy (-4)

    BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 16: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the sixth tee during round one of the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club on June 16, 2022 in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

    BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 16: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the sixth tee during round one of the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club on June 16, 2022 in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

    The 33-year-old McIlroy is playing some of the strongest golf on the planet right now.

    Rory is coming off his victory at the Canadian Open last week and has been outstanding since his final round at the Masters in April, when he tied the all-time final round record at Augusta by shooting 8 under par. He ultimately finished second at the Masters, as Scottie Scheffler had built up enough of a lead to four-putt his way to victory on 18 to hold off Rory.

    Despite consistently being one of the better players on tour in recent years, McIlroy has not won a major since 2014 and hasn’t won the U.S. Open since 2011, when he broke through for his first major victory. He has said in recent days that he feels his best golf is still ahead of him. Winning this tournament would certainly lend credence to that statement.

    Tee time: 3:23 pm

  • Jon Rahm (-4)

    BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 16: Jon Rahm of Spain looks on from the seventh green during round one of the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club on June 16, 2022 in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

    BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 16: Jon Rahm of Spain looks on from the seventh green during round one of the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club on June 16, 2022 in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

    The defending U.S. Open champion shot a 67 on Friday to put him one shot off the lead entering the weekend. The 27-year-old Spaniard has six top-10 finishes this season and has established himself as a consistent threat to win majors over the last few seasons.

    Last year’s win at Torrey Pines marked Rahm’s first major title and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him defend his title in Brookline.

    Tee time: 3:34 pm

  • Scottie Scheffler (-3)

    BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 17: Scottie Scheffler of the United States lines up a putt on the eighth green during the second round of the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club on June 17, 2022 in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

    BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 17: Scottie Scheffler of the United States lines up a putt on the eighth green during the second round of the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club on June 17, 2022 in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

    Scheffler, the world’s top-ranked player, is two shots behind Morikawa after shooting a 3 under 67 on Friday. He is trying to become the first player since Brooks Koepka in 2018 to win multiple majors in the same year.

    Scheffler’s first major win came in April, when he nearly ran away with the Masters (pushed only by McIlroy on the final day of the tournament). A win this weekend would cement Scheffler’s standing as the best player in the world and would position him to be the 2022 Player of the Year.

    Tee time: 3:01 pm

  • Justin Thomas (+1)

    BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 16: Justin Thomas of the United States reacts after making birdie on the sixth green during round one of the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club on June 16, 2022 in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

    BROOKLINE, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 16: Justin Thomas of the United States reacts after making birdie on the sixth green during round one of the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club on June 16, 2022 in Brookline, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

    Thomas may be entering the day six strokes off the lead, but he’s experienced big third rounds in the U.S. Open in the past.

    Thomas tied the single-round U.S. Open record with a 63 on Saturday in 2016 at Erin Hills. It’s worth noting that Erin Hills was the easiest U.S. Open in recent memory, and it’s hard to see any player shooting a 63 or close to it this weekend at The Country Club, but Thomas doesn’t need a record-setting round to get back into contention.

    If he cleans up his mistakes from Friday (five bogeys and a double-bogey), he can get back in contention. There is no doubt that Thomas will have some work to do, but if there’s a player capable of erasing a deficit in this tournament, it’s him.

    Tee time: 12:55 pm

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