Golf-DeChambeau powers three clear at the U.S. Open

  • Golf
  • Sunday, 16 Jun 2024

FILE PHOTO: Jun 14, 2024; Pinehurst, North Carolina, USA; Ludvig Aberg lines up a putt on the 18th green during the second round of the U.S. Open golf tournament at Pinehurst No. 2. Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

(Reuters) -Bryson DeChambeau brushed off hip issues to move three shots clear at the top of the U.S. Open third round leaderboard on Saturday, setting up a potential mouth-watering showdown with world number three Rory McIlroy.

On another steamy afternoon at Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina, DeChambeau recovered from an early bogey and troublesome hip that required treatment mid-round to return a three-under 67 to lead Frenchman Matthieu Pavon (69), Patrick Cantlay (70) and McIlroy (69) by three.

Sitting a further two back and five off the pace are Japan's Hideki Matsuyama (70) and young Swede Ludvig Aberg (73), who had held a one shot lead after the second round.

"Trying to stay in the moment, obviously hip wasn't feeling great but luckily I've got a good team and we're going to go figure that out after," said DeChambeau. "I just got two hips that are not fantastic just because of the speed training I do that's the consequences of it but I'll be ready tomorrow.

"I've had it for a long time now. It's just something that popped up."

DeChambeau will be partnered with Pavon for Sunday's final round but it is McIlroy, paired with Cantlay, who he will share the spotlight with as the former-U.S. Open winners and two of golf's most intriguing figures grapple for the trophy.

McIlroy, bidding to end a decade-long major drought, may be one of golf's most popular figures but the big-hitting DeChambeau has evolved into one of the most entertaining and has enjoyed the backing of huge crowds at Pinehurst.

There will also be some golf politics and bragging rights at stake on Sunday with 2020 U.S. Open winner DeChambeau now playing on the Saudi-backed LIV Golf tour and McIlroy, long one of the most vocal critics of the renegade circuit.

It will mark the 10th time McIlroy has appeared in the top three going into the final round of a major while DeChambeau has played some of the best golf at the biggest events, finishing runner-up at last month's PGA Championship.

"Looking forward to another Sunday in the mix at a major," said McIlroy, who won the last of his four majors at the PGA Championship in 2014. "Awesome opportunity, really excited to be in the position I am in."

"This is what we practice for, this is what we dream of, so really excited for the opportunity, going to go out there tomorrow and give it my all."

DeChambeau broke away from the leading pack with a birdie at the 10th but on his way to the 11th was stretched out on the ground having work done on his hip.

Any concerns about fitness were quickly dispelled when DeChambeau stepped onto the tee and hammered his longest drive of day at 359-yards before draining a 13-footer for back-to-back birdies.

DeChambeau extended his advantage to four with his third birdie in five holes at the 14th but just when it appeared he might run away from the field was pulled back with a double bogey at the 16th.

The 30-year-old responded immediately, rolling in a 12-footer for his sixth birdie triggering wild cheers and chants of "USA, USA".

"It was amazing," gushed DeChambeau of the fan support. "Man, they riled me up.

"It just gives me a spike in my adrenaline and allows me to focus more on delivering for the fans and for myself and for my family.

"It just inspires me."

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond, Chizu Nomiyama and Lincoln Feast.)

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