Major breakthrough time: Your guide to the U.S. Open contenders

Updated: 

The final round of the U.S. Open will begin with the top 16 places on the leaderboard all occupied by players who have yet to win a major.

Ahead of what promises to be a gripping Sunday showdown at Erin Hills, we take a look at those best placed to break new ground by taking the title.

 

THE (HAR)MAN TO CATCH

It is fair to say few would have anticipated Brian Harman being in pole position at the start of the final day, leading by one shot at 12 under par.

However, the world number 50 - featuring in his first major since 2015 - has played beautifully throughout the week, with accuracy off the tee a significant factor in his success.

Harman has missed just five fairways across three rounds and looked remarkably composed as he completed a 67 on Saturday to secure top spot on the leaderboard.

No left-hander has won the U.S. Open, but former U.S. Junior Amateur champion Harman can take confidence from a significant triumph last month, when he pipped none other than Dustin Johnson at the Wells Fargo Championship to claim his second PGA Tour title.

 

RECORD-BREAKING THOMAS AMONG TRIO ONE BACK

The nearest challengers to Harman include a man who made history on Saturday with the lowest score to par in U.S. Open history.

Justin Thomas was on fire in round three, shooting a nine-under 63 with the aid of nine birdies and a remarkable closing eagle set up by a three-wood to eight feet from 299 yards.

Thomas has a 59 to his name in 2017 - at January's Sony Open - and two of his four PGA Tour wins have come this year. The affable 24-year-old now has the chance to hit new heights.

Also one behind Harman at 11 under are the big-hitting Brooks Koepka - a man well-suited to U.S. Open layouts who has three top-five finishes in majors to his name - and Tommy Fleetwood.

Englishman Fleetwood looked set to be in the final group until he made a clumsy bogey at 18 on Saturday. Were the nerves starting to kick in, perhaps?

 

FOWLER, REED WITHIN STRIKING DISTANCE

After recent major victories for Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia, many would view Fowler as the best player in the world without a major title.

Since shooting a sublime 65 on day one to lead the tournament, Fowler's progress has been less spectacular, but he remains firmly in contention at 10 under par.

Fowler fell away badly after starting the final round of this year's Masters just one off the pace and belief will surely be key for a player who has regularly contended in majors without taking the prize.

One man who would appear to have no issue with confidence is Patrick Reed and the boisterous 26-year-old will begin the final round four behind Harman after a wonderful 65 on Saturday.

 

KIM SET TO SPRING ANOTHER SHOCK?

Fowler and Reed will command plenty of attention, but do not discount Kim Si-woo, who sits between the American duo at nine under.

Kim certainly has form when it comes to springing a surprise. The 21-year-old South Korean became the youngest Players Championship winner in history last month.

Oh yeah, and he loves hitting his driver off the deck. What's not to like?