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Bryson’s Show | The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

PINEHURST, N.C. – 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 a birdie and another fist pump.

DeChambeau provided power, birdies and endless entertainment on Saturday during the US Open. He turned Pinehurst No. 2 into a one-man show with a 3-under 67, building a three-shot lead as he moved closer to another US Open title.

“I’m just going to say it. Tomorrow it’s the same quote I’ve been saying all week: try to have boring golf,” DeChambeau said. “The middle of the greens never moves.”

There was little dull about his performance before a sun-drenched and frenzied gallery in Pinehurst, where a thrilling day ended with the chanting of his name. He has always enjoyed the attention of fans, and even more so when they love him back.

“Yes, it was great. I can’t thank them enough. It was a blessing,” he said. “Man, they pissed me off.”

The feeling was clearly mutual.

At stake is a chance to capture a second US Open title with a redesigned 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 presents, and you have to focus and concentrate on every shot there is,” McIlroy said. “This is how a US Open should be. It’s obviously great to be there.”

DeChambeau, second by one shot in the PGA Championship last month and another top 10 at the Masters in April, was at 7-under 203. He is the only player to post three consecutive 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-stroke lead, fell victim to the slick, domed greens and made a triple bogey on the 13th hole, pushing him to a 73 and joining Hideki for five shots left behind. Matsuyama (70).

DeChambeau said it was “two hips that aren’t great” from his speed training that led him to ask for a trainer and get started in the woods after the 10th hole.

He went to the 11th, completed a 347-yard drive, hit the 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 wanted to try the green out loud, thought this wasn’t practical and told the gallery, “Don’t book me out,” as he reached for iron. He missed the fairway into a bunker and sent his approach dancing past the cup.

He missed that six feet for birdie, but birdied the 14th to lead by as many as four shots. But he wasn’t immune to a lot of them, like so many others.

DeChambeau’s shot to the 16th rolled off the front of the green. His chip was too weak and returned to his previous shot. His next throw was only slightly better and he missed the putt, making double bogey. But he answered with a pitching wedge that narrowly cleared the daunting bunker to the right of the par-3 17th and made a 12-foot putt.

Pavon, a winner at Torrey Pines in his first year on the PGA Tour, joined DeChambeau as the only players to avoid an over-par round this week. He saved one par from in front of a wire grass brush and attacked pins when he could to get into the final group.

“I’m not afraid to take the shots. I’ve never been afraid to take the shots,” he said.

McIlroy and Cantlay, opponents in the Ryder Cup and in the PGA Tour boardroom, are in the penultimate group. They stayed in different ways.

McIlroy started to rise early on the back nine by driving a good putting – a 10-foot birdie on the 12th, an important par save from six feet on the 13th, a wedge to tap-in range on the 14th and saving another huge par on the 16th.

But he dropped two shots on the par 3s and was further back than he would have liked. Still, it’s an opportunity. He famously said last year, when he finished second at the US Open: “I would go through a hundred Sundays like this to get my hands on another major championship.”

He has a new chance there to end a decade without a major.

And that also applies to Cantlay, who put in a strong putting performance himself. Cantlay stayed in the match with five par-saving putts of 7 feet or longer. He also holed a 20-foot birdie putt at the 17th, keeping him within range.

“I feel like I’m in a good place,” Cantlay said.

Pinehurst was sweltering for the second day in a row, with a heat index near 100 degrees and patches of brown grass that made course No. 2 look fast and scary.

The third round started with 15 players under par, and was reduced to eight players going into the final, demanding a test from the major that rewards only the cleanest wave.

Collin Morikawa remarkably had a bogey-free round with a 66, which moved him from a tie for 51st to just inside the top 10.

No one who played early managed to make a move. The course is so demanding that anyone who is not at the top of their game will be exposed. That includes Scottie Scheffler, the No. 1 player who had to settle for a 71. It was his fourth consecutive round over par through Sunday at the Memorial, the first time he’s had such a stretch in his career .

Former University of Arkansas golfer Nico Echavarria struggled Saturday with an 8-over 78 and now has a total of 9-over-219.

photo Patrick Cantlay looks at his tee shot on the 17th hole during the third round of the US Open golf tournament on Saturday, June 15, 2024, in Pinehurst, NC (AP Photo/George Walker IV)
photo Scottie Scheffler hits from the bunker on the 10th hole during the third round of the US Open golf tournament on Saturday, June 15, 2024, in Pinehurst, NC (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
photo England’s Tyrrell Hatton reacts after missing a putt on the 18th hole during the third round of the US Open golf tournament on Saturday, June 15, 2024, in Pinehurst, NC (AP Photo/Matt York)
photo Tyrrell Hatton of England looks at his putt on the third hole during the third round of the US Open golf tournament on Saturday, June 15, 2024, in Pinehurst, NC (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
photo Bryson DeChambeau celebrates after birdieing the 14th hole during the third round of the US Open golf tournament on Saturday, June 15, 2024, in Pinehurst, NC (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
photo Bryson DeChambeau receives treatment on the 11th hole during the third round of the US Open golf tournament on Saturday, June 15, 2024, in Pinehurst, NC (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
photo Bryson DeChambeau walks to the green on the 13th hole during the third round of the US Open golf tournament on Saturday, June 15, 2024, in Pinehurst, NC (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
photo Bryson DeChambeau celebrates after birdieing the 11th hole during the third round of the US Open golf tournament on Saturday, June 15, 2024, in Pinehurst, NC (AP Photo/Matt York)
photo Rory McIlroy, of Northern Ireland, hits from the bunker on the 16th hole during the third round of the US Open golf tournament on Saturday, June 15, 2024, in Pinehurst, NC (AP Photo/George Walker IV)