Sunday, July 21, 2024
HomeWorldUS Open 2024: Rory McIlroy primed for thrilling Sunday showdown after big-hitting...

US Open 2024: Rory McIlroy primed for thrilling Sunday showdown after big-hitting Bryson DeChambeau takes control in dramatic third round

Rory McIlroy was paired with Tony Finau for this penultimate trip around Pinehurst. It marked the final chapter of a long friendship that has lasted the grueling journey from junior golf to the final stages of a major championship.

There’s one photo of them together that always pops up on days like this. The shot was taken many years ago and shows Finau dwarfing the small and frail McIlroy.

The Northern Irishman has since filled up and for most of this third round he stood tall, staring at both the anticipation and a course that punished many more players on Saturday.

McIlroy’s hopes of ending his decade-long wait for another major are still alive after he shot a one-under par 69 on a chaotic back-and-forth moving day. Especially in the final hour as darkness closed over North Carolina.

Ultimately, McIlroy is in a shared second place with four under par. He sits next to Matthieu Pavon and Patrick Cantlay. He is three shots back of leader Bryson DeChambeau. He’s right in the hunt. It’s a simple enough formula, but we only got there after a whirlwind climax.

Rory McIlroy is tied for second place at four under par after a dramatic third round at the US Open

Rory McIlroy is tied for second place at four under par after a dramatic third round at the US Open

McIlroy is three shots behind leader Bryson DeChambeau after his third round of 67 on Saturday

McIlroy is three shots behind leader Bryson DeChambeau after his third round of 67 on Saturday

McIlroy is three shots behind leader Bryson DeChambeau after his third round of 67 on Saturday

A quick recap: At around 7pm local time, with four holes remaining in his round, McIlroy was two shots behind DeChambeau, who had caught fire and wrested control of this US Open. But then McIlroy had trouble on 15 and 17 and suddenly the lead was four. Suddenly a molehill had become a small mountain.

READ ALSO  220 Vacant Positions Open At Kenya Forest Service (KFS)

Moments later, however, DeChambeau, who had been virtually flawless from holes seven to fifteen, decided to give the chasing pack new hope. Out of nowhere, Pinehurst bit back and the leader made a double bogey. We were back to two. But only briefly, as DeChambeau then made up for his mistake with a birdie at 17.

It was his sixth of this third round. One more at age 18 and he would have set a US Open record. But the ball rolled past, closing on 67 and the supporters could breathe again ahead of a tantalizing final day that promises fireworks and pits McIlroy alongside Cantlay. They have a – er – fractious relationship and tensions between McIlroy and Cantlay’s caddy ran high during last year’s Ryder Cup. The Northern Irishman later called his rival a ‘d***’.

The odds are against both of them on Sunday. But no history. No one has ever made a double bogey on the way to winning the US Open at Pinehurst.

McIlroy, the 2011 US Open champion, wants to end his decade-long wait for another major victory

McIlroy, the 2011 US Open champion, wants to end his decade-long wait for another major victory

McIlroy, the 2011 US Open champion, wants to end his decade-long wait for another major victory

The Northern Irishman played with his good friend Tony Finau on Saturday

The Northern Irishman played with his good friend Tony Finau on Saturday

The Northern Irishman played with his good friend Tony Finau on Saturday

McIlroy, the 2011 champion, has moved closer to another victory over the past half-decade. Last year he lost by one shot and risks another near miss here.

‘It was just a very difficult US Open on Saturday. Everything we expected,” McIlroy said.

‘This is what a US Open should be. Obviously it’s great to be in the mix… whatever happens, I’m looking forward to two shots, three shots, four shots, I’ve got a great chance.”

READ ALSO  Apple’s AI unveiling helped the company briefly overtake Microsoft to become the world’s most valuable company

The 35-year-old deserves credit for not succumbing to Pinehurst in the sweltering heat on Saturday. It broke many others. Including his old friend Finau, who was briefly tied before dropping four shots in the space of two holes. And night leader Ludvig Aberg.

They both suffered the same fate on the par-four 13th, traveling back from the front of the green and a nearby bunker. Both made a triple bogey. They were both suddenly quite adrift.

McIlroy is closer, but in his way is a mad scientist turned pantomime villain turned LIV rebel who is now the new darling of American golf. DeChambeau’s next stop on that crazy ride could be the winner’s residence here.

‘Three years ago the landscape looked very different. I tried to show everyone who I was. “I didn’t do it the right way and I could have done a lot of things better,” he said.

Big hit DeChambeau had six birdies in a stunning third round at Pinehurst, North Carolina

Big hit DeChambeau had six birdies in a stunning third round at Pinehurst, North Carolina

Big hit DeChambeau had six birdies in a stunning third round at Pinehurst, North Carolina

“(I now have) not only a new perspective, but also an opportunity to show myself in a different light and to entertain the fans on the golf course.”

However, there was a point on Saturday afternoon when it looked like medical science might derail the mad golf scientist.

After taking over a share of the lead with a birdie on the 10th hole, DeChambeau called a physio to take a look at his hip. Drone footage showed the 2020 champion on the floor as he was stretched back and forth.

Moments later, however, DeChambeau emerged and completed the longest ride of day three. That put him on course for a second straight birdie and a big fist pump. No wonder the galleries have learned to love him.

READ ALSO  Rising star lawyer, 28, ‘helped mother steal home from her son using multiple forged docs amid dramatic family feud’

Aberg was the poor guy tasked with keeping up with DeChambeau as the American shifted through the gears. The 24-year-old led at the half and is trying to become the first rookie to win the tournament in more than a century.

Frenchman Matthieu Pavon is next to McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay at four under in Pinehurst

Frenchman Matthieu Pavon is next to McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay at four under in Pinehurst

Frenchman Matthieu Pavon is next to McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay at four under in Pinehurst

But he was already behind – and clinging – by the time he and DeChambeau reached the 13th hole. Then came Aberg’s meltdown.

Like Finau, his approach rolled off the front. Like Finau, the rookie then chipped all the way into a bunker on the green. Like Finau, Aberg went from the sand back to the same hollow. Three more shots later, the bleeding finally stopped.

The youngster showed tremendous courage on the next hole, sinking a birdie putt from almost 15 feet. But then Aberg immediately surrendered that shot. He is next to Hideki Matsuyama at two under par, with Finau and Tyrrell Hatton at one under.

As for McIlroy, his success this week was underpinned by his ability to avoid catastrophe. The Northern Irishman has not made worse than a bogey over three rounds. He also made some crucial par saves on Saturday. But he might come to regret those few mistakes as the sun set on another dramatic day at Pinehurst.

WATCH VIDEO

DOWNLOAD VIDEO

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
- Advertisment -

RECENT POSTS

- Advertisment -
- Advertisment -