Express & Star

Rory McIlroy trails Bryson DeChambeau by three ahead of final round at Pinehurst

Four shots clear before a double bogey on the 16th, DeChambeau immediately responded with a birdie on the next.


Rory McIlroy will have to overturn a three-shot deficit to end his major drought after a stunning performance from Bryson DeChambeau at Pinehurst.

DeChambeau made a mockery of Shane Lowry’s prediction that level par could have a good chance to win the US Open on Sunday as he fired a third round of 67 to reach seven under par and secure his first 54-hole lead in any major.

Four shots clear before a double bogey on the 16th, DeChambeau immediately responded with a birdie on the next as he maintained his impressive form in this year’s majors.

The 2020 US Open winner finished sixth in the Masters and became the first man to shoot 20 under par in a major and not lift the trophy in the US PGA Championship, where it took a last-hole birdie from Xander Schauffele to prevent a play-off.

“I gave it everything out there today,” DeChambeau said. “16 was a bit of a bummer but you’re not going to get every shot up and down.

“The crowd’s support has been fantastic and I will continue to feed off them if they continue to give it to me. Tomorrow’s about fairways and greens and if I can give the fans something special we’ll see how it goes.”

McIlroy’s third round of 69 gave him a share of second place with France’s Matthieu Pavon and American Patrick Cantlay on four under, with halfway leader Ludvig Aberg two shots further back alongside Hideki Matsuyama.

Pavon had initially set the pace as he covered the front nine in 32, but DeChambeau bounced back from a bogey on the fourth with birdies on the fifth, seventh and 10th to move to the top of the leaderboard.

Bryson DeChambeau receives physio treatment
Bryson DeChambeau gets treatment on the 11th hole during the third round of the US Open (Mike Stewart/AP)

DeChambeau’s response to taking the lead was to disappear into the trees to receive physio treatment for what appeared to be a hip problem, but he returned to smash a 359-yard drive down the 11th and made birdie to double his advantage.

The 30-year-old looked extremely at ease, signing an autograph for one young spectator early on and joking with others as he weighed up whether to attempt to drive the green on the short par-four 13th.

“I would love to go for this green,” DeChambeau said to his caddie, to which one fan responded: “Yeah you would; when in doubt, whip it out.”

DeChambeau pretended to grab his driver out of the bag before opting for an iron and an apology – “Don’t boo me, I’m sorry”, – and promptly hit a terrible tee shot into a fairway bunker.

From there DeChambeau hit a brilliant approach to six feet and continued to provide his own entertaining commentary.

“Just how I drew it up,” he said with a laugh. “What an idiot I am.”

The birdie chance went begging after playing partner Aberg eventually completed a costly triple-bogey seven, the Swede chipping from short of the green into a bunker and then being unable to keep his recovery shot on the putting surface.

McIlroy got within a shot of DeChambeau with birdies on the 12th and 14th, but bogeyed the 15th and 17th and was unable to find a closing birdie which would have got him into the final group on Sunday.

“The wind was up a bit more but I felt like I gave a really good account of myself,” McIlroy said.

Rory McIlroy hits out of a bunker
Rory McIlroy trails Bryson DeChambeau by three shots after 54 holes of the US Open (George Walker IV/AP)

“I played really well, most things were firing; I hit a couple of loose iron shots but overall would have taken one under on the first tee today.

“I’m really excited about tomorrow and the mindset will be fairways and greens, the same I’ve tried to hold onto the first three days.

“It’s a grind. The US Open feels like you play two tournaments in one week. Going to try to recover as good as I possibly can and get ready for one more day of grinding.

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

McIlroy will play alongside Cantlay in the final round for the first time since becoming involved in a heated exchange with Cantlay’s caddie Joe LaCava in the Ryder Cup.

McIlroy felt LaCava’s celebrations after Cantlay holed a lengthy putt on the 18th green had been out of line, with the argument later continuing in the car park where McIlroy had to be restrained by team-mate Shane Lowry.

Lowry had earlier thought the later starters would find conditions increasingly difficult after battling to a level-par 70 to remain five over.

“It’s torture out there, honestly it’s absolute mental torture. That’s the best level par I’ve ever shot in my life,” Lowry said.

“I’m very happy because I think the scoring is going to come way back this afternoon and I was thinking level par’s not going to be very far away this weekend.”

Sorry, we are not accepting comments on this article.