Jun 20th, 2021
McIlroy and DeChambeau make their move at U.S. Open
As big guns line up behind the leaders going into Sunday at Torrey Pines
Words: GolfPunk Photography: Getty Images
McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau made their move up the leaderboard on Saturday, with both players sharing fourth spot on three-under-par, just two off the lead.
Russell Henley, who held the overnight lead alongside England's Richard Bland, remains on top of the pile alongside Canadian Mackenzie Hughes and Louis Oosthuizen of South Africa on five-under-par.
Oosthuizen made an outrageous fifty-foot eagle putt at the last to be round in a one-under 70 and is knocking on the door of a second major title.
Sadly, for joint halfway leader Bland he struggled on day three at Torrey Pines, carding a six-over 77 to fall back to one-over for the event. He will now more realistically be looking to secure a top ten finish and exemption for next year's U.S Open.
The big guns are lining up in striking distance of the leaders. World number three Jon Rahm dug deep to scrap out a one-over 72 and end on two-under, while world number one Dustin Johnson is one shot further adrift after his 68.
McIlroy, who had a quiet front nine, came alive on the 10th tee. He birdied the 10th and then chipped in at the 12th for another birdie before crashing into the pin at the long 13th with his second shot to set up his third birdie in four holes.
A wild drive at the 15th threatened to derail McIlroy but he scrambled a great bogey and then closed out with a birdie at the par-five 18th for the joint best round of the day of 67.
"Yeah, it's definitely the best that I've played this week," said McIlroy
"I just played a really solid round of golf. There was really one loose shot out there, which was the drive on 15, but apart from that, it's one of the best rounds of golf I've played in a while."
Bryson DeChambeau's attacking approach started to pay dividends on Saturday as he carded a bogey-free 68 to move within two of the lead. He retains the bragging rights in his much-reported 'feud' with Brooks Koepka.
"Hey, I love it. I think it's so much fun. People think that it annoys me. If anything, it just creates a great atmosphere for golf," said DeChambeau when asked about the rivalry.
"There's going to be team Bryson, team Brooks out there, and hey, keep it up, I'm happy about it. I'm excited that one day we can eventually get paired up and play together. It would be fun."
Koepka struggled to get going again on Saturday with three birdies and three bogeys, meaning he stood still on level par just within striking distance of the leaders.
Henley had an up and down day with four birdies and four bogies in his level par 71. He led by two shots, but a one-over back nine brought him back to the pack.
Playing partner Bland was in great form off the tee once again missing just four fairways but his approach play was his undoing. The Englishman could not find a birdie and leaked shots, including bogies at the last three holes, the final one being courtesy of a visit to the water.
2010 Open champion Oosthuizen joined Henley in the lead after his rollercoaster round, which included four bogeys, three birdies and the eagle at the last.
Canada's Mackenzie Hughes also had an eagle on his card on his way to a 68 and a share of the lead. This is Mackenzie's fourth appearance at the U.S. Open and the first time he has made the cut.
Earlier in the day, Englishmen Ian Poulter and Paul Casey moved their way up the leader board following rounds of 68 and 67. Both players sit at level par with an outside chance but surely we will see both at Whistling Straits in September.
Lee Westwood sits a shot further back on one-over following his level par 70.