Berliner Tageblatt - DeChambeau leads US Open by three after birdie spree

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DeChambeau leads US Open by three after birdie spree
DeChambeau leads US Open by three after birdie spree / Photo: © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP

DeChambeau leads US Open by three after birdie spree

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.

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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.

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.

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.

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.

As rivals faded, DeChambeau curled in a nine-foot birdie putt at 14 but stumbled at 16, needing four to reach the green and missing an eight-foot bogey putt, although the late birdie boosted his edge.

Northern Ireland's McIlroy, a four-time major winner and last year's US Open runner-up, sank an eight-foot birdie putt at nine, made another from just inside 10 feet at the 12th and hit an amazing approach for a tap-in birdie at the par-4 14th.

But McIlroy found bunkers and made bogeys at the par-3 15th and 17th holes to fall back.

Pavon, ranked 24th, sank a six-foot birdie putt at the first, made a tap-in birdie at the par-5 fifth and sank a 21-footer to birdie the seventh. But he fell back with bogeys at 11 and 16, missing the green on approaches at each.

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

Aberg, the first 36-hole US Open debutant leader since Taiwan's Chen Tze-chung in 1985, suffered a triple-bogey at the par-4 13th to fall back.

Aberg, April's Masters runner-up in his major debut, could become the first US Open debut winner since American amateur Francis Ouimet in 1913.

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."

World number two Xander Schauffele, who won May's PGA, shot 72 to stand on 211 and said the course was hard but fair.

"They kept it pretty fair," said Schauffele. "If the greens were firmer, it would have been unfair. But they were receptive.

"Maybe the pin locations were a little tricky in some spots, but for the most part, I thought the course was playing pretty fair."

- 'Mental torture chamber' -

Two-time Masters champion Scheffler, who made the cut on the number at five-over 145, had three bogeys and two birdies.

Scheffler was the first player since Tom Watson in 1980 to win five US PGA Tour events before the US Open, taking the fifth last week at the Memorial, 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.