DeChambeau leads U.S. Open by 3 shots

Published 10:43 pm Saturday, June 15, 2024

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — Bryson DeChambeau ducked outside the ropes to a private area in the woods, flat on his back as trainers worked on hips that felt too tight. Moments later, he unleashed a swing that sent his drive 347 yards, leaving a wedge to set up birdie and another fist pump.

DeChambeau delivered power, birdies and endless entertainment Saturday in the U.S. Open. He turned Pinehurst No. 2 into a one-man show with a 3-under 67 and built a three-shot lead as he moved closer to another U.S. Open title.

“Just going to say it. Tomorrow it’s the same quote I’ve said all week: Trying to have boring golf,” DeChambeau said. “Middle of the greens never moves.”

Email newsletter signup

There was little boring about his performance before a sunbaked and delirious gallery at Pinehurst that ended a sweltering day by chanting his name. He has always loved the attention from fans, even more when they love him back.

“Yeah, it was amazing. I can’t thank them enough. It was a blessing,” he said. “Man, they riled me up.”

The feeling was clearly mutual.

At stake is a chance to capture a second U.S. Open title with a reimagined game — still powerful as ever — and a physique that isn’t quite the “Incredible Bulk” he was at Winged Foot in 2020.

Still ahead is a final round with Rory McIlroy (69), Patrick Cantlay (70) and Matthieu Pavon (69) three shots behind and all looking capable of giving him a run for the silver trophy.

“I love the test that Pinehurst is presenting, and you’ve got to focus and concentrate on every single shot out there,” McIlroy said. “It’s what a U.S. Open should be like. It’s obviously great to be in the mix.”

DeChambeau, a runner-up by one shot last month in the PGA Championship with another top 10 at the Masters in April, was at 7-under 203. He is the only player to post three straight rounds of 60s in a U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.

Ludvig Aberg, the super Swede who started the third round with a one-shot lead, fell victim to the slick, domed greens to make a triple bogey on the 13th hole that sent him to a 73 and left him five shots back along with Hideki Matsuyama (70).

DeChambeau said it was “two hips that are not fantastic” from his speed training that led him to ask for a trainer and get worked on in the woods after the 10th hole.

He went to the 11th, belted a 347-yard drive, hit wedge safely to the center of the green and made a putt from just outside 12 feet to become the first player to reach 7 under all week.

With the tee slightly forward on the 13th, he wished aloud to have a go at the green, figured it wasn’t practical and said to the gallery, “Don’t boo me,” as he reached for iron. He missed the fairway into a bunker and sent his approach dancing by the cup.

He missed that 6-footer for birdie, but picked up birdie on the 14th and led by as many as four shots. But he wasn’t immune from a big number, just like so many others.

DeChambeau’s shot to the 16th rolled off the front of the green. His chip was too weak and returned toward his previous shot. His next pitch was only slightly better and he missed the putt to make double bogey. But he answered with a pitching wedge that narrowly cleared the fearsome bunker right of the par-3 17th and holed a 12-foot putt.

Pavon, a winner at Torrey Pines in his first year playing the PGA Tour, joined DeChambeau as the only players to avoid a round over par this week. He saved one par from in front of a wiregrass brush and attacked pins when he could to get into the final group.

“I’m not scared about taking the shots. I’ve never been scared about taking the shots,” he said.

McIlroy and Cantlay, adversaries in the Ryder Cup and in the PGA Tour board room, will be in the penultimate group. They stayed in different ways.

McIlroy began to soar early on the back nine by riding some good putting — a 10-foot birdie on the 12th, a key par save from 6 feet on the 13th, a wedge to tap-in range on the 14th and another huge par save on the 16th.

But he dropped two shots on the par 3s and was farther back than he would have wanted. Still, it’s a chance. He famously said last year when he was runner-up at the U.S. Open, “I would go through 100 Sundays like this to get my hands on another major championship.”

He’s right there with another chance to end a decade without a major.

And so is Cantlay, who delivered a strong putting performance of his own. Cantlay missed all some of good birdie chances he had, but he stayed in the game with five par-saving putts of 7 feet or longer. He also poured in a 20-foot birdie putt on the 17th that kept him in range.

“I feel like I’m in a good spot,” Cantlay said.

Pinehurst was sweltering for the second straight day, with a heat index near 100 degrees (38 Celsius) and brown splotches of grass making the No. 2 course look fast and terrifying.

The third round began with 15 players under par, and it was reduced to eight players going into the final, demanding test of the major that rewards only the cleanest golf.

Collin Morikawa remarkably had a bogey-free round with a 66 that took him from a tie to 51st to just inside the top 10.

No one who played early managed to make a move. The course is so demanding that it exposes anyone not on the top of his game. That includes Scottie Scheffler, the No. 1 player who had to settle for a 71. It was his fourth straight round over par dating to Sunday at the Memorial, the first time he has had a stretch like that in his career.

SaturdayAt Pinehurst No. 2Pinehurst, N.C.Purse: $21.5 millionYardage: 7,548; Par: 70Third Round

Bryson DeChambeau, United States 67-69-67—203
Patrick Cantlay, United States 65-71-70—206
Rory McIlroy, Northern Ireland 65-72-69—206
Matthieu Pavon, France 67-70-69—206
Ludvig Aberg, Sweden 66-69-73—208
Hideki Matsuyama, Japan 72-66-70—208
Tony Finau, United States 68-69-72—209
Tyrrell Hatton, England 68-71-70—209
Corey Conners, Canada 69-70-71—210
Tom Kim, South Korea 71-68-71—210
Collin Morikawa, United States 70-74-66—210
Sergio Garcia, Spain 69-71-71—211
Taylor Pendrith, Canada 71-70-70—211
Aaron Rai, England 69-74-68—211
Xander Schauffele, United States 70-69-72—211
Akshay Bhatia, United States 68-71-73—212
Thomas Detry, Belgium 69-67-76—212
Russell Henley, United States 70-70-72—212
Davis Thompson, United States 70-72-70—212
Sam Burns, United States 73-67-73—213
Brian Harman, United States 71-71-71—213
Mark Hubbard, United States 74-69-70—213
Stephan Jaeger, Germany 70-70-73—213
David Puig, Spain 76-68-69—213
Zac Blair, United States 70-69-75—214
Luke Clanton, United States 76-69-69—214
Billy Horschel, United States 73-67-74—214
Chris Kirk, United States 71-71-72—214
Min Woo Lee, Australia 73-69-72—214
Denny McCarthy, United States 75-67-72—214
Neal Shipley, United States 70-73-71—214
Christiaan Bezuidenhout, South Africa 72-71-72—215
Wyndham Clark, United States 73-71-71—215
Tommy Fleetwood, England 70-75-70—215
Emiliano Grillo, Argentina 70-72-73—215
Nicolai Hojgaard, Denmark 72-69-74—215
Shane Lowry, Ireland 74-71-70—215
J.T. Poston, United States 73-71-71—215
Isaiah Salinda, United States 70-72-73—215
Cameron Smith, Australia 71-72-72—215
Tim Widing, Sweden 71-68-76—215
Daniel Berger, United States 73-70-73—216
Keegan Bradley, United States 74-70-72—216
Brooks Koepka, United States 70-75-71—216
Tom McKibbin, Northern Ireland 74-71-71—216
Scottie Scheffler, United States 71-74-71—216
Frankie Capan, United States 71-70-76—217
Harris English, United States 70-73-74—217
Max Greyserman, United States 71-74-72—217
Si Woo Kim, South Korea 71-72-74—217
Jordan Spieth, United States 72-71-74—217
Adam Svensson, Canada 73-70-74—217
Sahith Theegala, United States 77-68-72—217
Sam Bennett, United States 69-72-77—218
Brian Campbell, United States 73-70-75—218
Matt Kuchar, United States 72-71-75—218
Adam Scott, Australia 70-72-76—218
Nicolas Echavarria, Colombia 72-69-78—219
Justin Lower, United States 72-73-74—219
Brendon Todd, United States 74-71-74—219
Martin Kaymer, Germany 70-73-77—220
Greyson Sigg, United States 76-69-75—220
Sepp Straka, Austria 70-72-78—220
Cameron Young, United States 73-72-75—220
Dean Burmester, South Africa 74-71-76—221
Ryan Fox, New Zealand 73-72-76—221
Ben Kohles, United States 77-68-76—221
Austin Eckroat, United States 72-72-78—222
Francesco Molinari, Italy 73-72-77—222
Jackson Suber, United States 69-73-81—223
Brandon Wu, United States 74-71-78—223
Gunnar Broin, United States 75-68-81—224
Matt Fitzpatrick, England 73-72-79—224
Seonghyeon Kim, South Korea 69-72-83—224