DeChambeau a one-man show at Pinehurst No. 2 and leads US Open by 3

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.”

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.


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