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Rory McIlroy waves after making a putt on the seventh hole during the third round. Alamy Stock Photo
Golf

Rory McIlroy in share for second at US Open, with Bryson DeChambeau holding a three-shot lead

Only eight players were under par after 54 holes.

LAST UPDATE | 16 Jun

BRYSON DECHAMBEAU REELED off five birdies in 10 holes to seize command of the US Open, grabbing a three-stroke lead after Saturday’s third round at punishing Pinehurst.

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, trying to snap a 10-year major win drought, and Matthieu Pavon, trying to become the first Frenchman to win a major since 1907, each shot 69 to share second on 206.

Also three adrift was ninth-ranked American Patrick Cantlay, who fired a 70, aided by a 19-foot birdie putt at 17.

Only eight players were under par after 54 holes as the perils of the 7,548-yard layout took a toll, dome-shaped elevated greens with dirt and weeds waste areas crushing many hopes.

DeChambeau, the 2020 US Open winner and last month’s PGA Championship runner-up, made bogey at the fourth, then unleashed his birdie blitz. After a double-bogey at 16, he sank a birdie putt from just inside 12 feet at the par-3 17th and parred 18.

“Amazing. Made a lot of great putts,” DeChambeau said. “Pleased with how I struck it for the most part. Got to work on that just a little bit, but I feel pretty confident over the tee shots.”

The 30-year-old American, among eight players from Saudi-backed LIV Golf to make the cut, finished with a three-under-par 67 to stand on seven-under 203 after 54 holes.

“Trying to have boring golf,” said DeChambeau. “Middle of the greens never moves, so I am going to try and hit a lot of the greens, give myself some good looks on some holes and two-putt a lot.”

Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, the 2021 Masters champion, fired a 70 to share fifth on 208 with Sweden’s sixth-ranked Ludvig Aberg, who led after 36 holes before struggling to a 73.

DeChambeau made a six-foot birdie putt at the par-5 fifth, added a 12-foot birdie putt at the seventh, a seven-foot birdie putt at the par-5 10th and a birdie putt from just beyond 13 feet at 11 to leap into the lead.

DeChambeau curled in a nine-foot birdie putt at 14 but stumbled at 16, needing four to reach the green, but answering the double bogey with the birdie at 17.

“When that pressure is on and I execute like I know how I can, there’s no better feeling in the world,” DeChambeau said.

McIlroy, a four-time major winner and last year’s US Open runner-up, birdied nine, 12 and 14 to make a charge but found bunkers and made bogeys at the par-3 15th and 17th holes.

“Course is getting crispy,” McIlroy said. “Some of the pin positions are pretty tricky. Felt like a lot of them were cut on little crowns. Pretty tricky to get the pace right. It caught me out a couple times.”

Pavon, ranked 24th, made three birdies on the front nine but fell back with bogeys at 11 and 16, missing the green on approaches at each.

“The course is really showing its teeth so far. It’s a tough one,” Pavon said. “That was a pretty nice round.”

Not since Arnaud Massy took the 1907 British Open at Royal Liverpool has a Frenchman won a major.

Cantlay has a chance to overtake Collin Morikawa for the last US spot in the Paris Olympics but needs at least a two-way share of second.

“I feel like I’m in a good spot for tomorrow,” Cantlay said. “I’m sure it’ll be a challenge again.”

Aberg, second at the Masters in his major debut, suffered a triple-bogey at the par-4 13th.

“I didn’t feel like I executed the shots the way I wanted,” Aberg said. “It’s just one of them days.”

- ‘Mental torture chamber’ -

Top-ranked Scottie Scheffler was 13 strokes adrift, the huge pre-event favorite firing a 71 to stand on six-over 216 through 54 holes.

“Another frustrating day,” Scheffler said. “I thought I played a lot better than my score. I’m having a lot of trouble reading these greens.”

Two-time Masters winner Scheffler was the first player since Tom Watson in 1980 to win five US PGA Tour events before the US Open and has 12 top-10 finishes in 13 events this season.

The usually stoic and calm American flipped his putter in the air and slammed down a driver on Friday.

“Golf is a mental torture chamber at times, especially the US Open,” said Scheffler.

You can view the full leaderboard here.

- © AFP 2024

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