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McIlroy, DeChambeau pace US Open charge as Henley clings to lead


Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the 18th tee during the third round of the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course (South Course) on June 19, 2021 in San Diego, California.   Harry How/Getty Images/AFP (Photo by Harry How / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays his shot from the 18th tee during the third round of the 2021 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course (South Course) on June 19, 2021 in San Diego, California. (Getty Images via AFP)

LA JOLLA, United States – Journeyman Russell Henley birdied the ninth hole to seize a two-stroke lead halfway through his third round Saturday at the US Open while Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau led a charge by some of golf’s top stars.

American Henley, who hasn’t won a US PGA event in four years, made two birdies and two bogeys in the first six holes then rolled in a 12-foot birdie putt at the par-5 ninth to stand on 6-under par at Torrey Pines.

England’s Richard Bland, trying to become the oldest US Open champion at 48, was second on 4-under.

Four-time major winner McIlroy holding the clubhouse lead on three-under par 210 after a closing birdie to shoot four-under par 67.

“I thought I played well the past two days but didn’t get much out of it. Today I did,” McIlroy said.

“I’ve always felt comfortable, played well here. It’s one of those courses. There’s trouble off the tee but if you miss it you can get it back.”

Still on the course on 3-under were defending champion DeChambeau, 2020 US Open runner-up Matthew Wolff and third-ranked Jon Rahm of Spain.

DeChambeau made seven-foot birdie putts at the first and sixth holes and holed an eight-footer at the par-5 13th to pull within three.

World number 63 Henley, without a top-10 finish in 26 major starts, held off playing partner Bland, who was 34 for 34 in putts inside 10 feet before a par miss from just inside nine feet at the fifth.

Bland, playing in only his fourth major and second US event, won his first European Tour title at last month’s British Masters after 478 starts over 25 years.

Bland is chasing the US Open winner’s age mark set by Hale Irwin, who was 45 when he won at Medinah in 1990.

Henley opened with a 13-foot birdie putt but found the right rough with his next two shots to bogey the second to drop back level with Bland.

Henley birdied the fourth from just outside seven feet but found a greenside bunker at the sixth and made bogey.

McIlroy, seeking his first major win since 2014, holed a four-foot birdie putt at the second, then birdied three of the first four holes on the back nine, sandwiching five-foot birdie putts at 10 and 13 around a spectacular 32-yard chip-in from deep rough at the 12th.

McIlroy’s tee shot at the 15th sailed left and landed 30 feet down an ocean cliffside embankment. He took a penalty drop just off a cart path and salvaged bogey and pulled a stroke back with a tap-in birdie at the par-5 18th.

Wolff opened with a birdie but made bogey at seven. The 22-year-old American is returning from a two-month mental health break.

Rahm spent most of last week in quarantine after contracting Covid-19 and being forced to withdraw from the US PGA Memorial after seizing a six-shot lead throiugh 54 holes.

Top-ranked Dustin Johnson closed with back-to-back birdies to shoot 68, the two-time major winner standing on 212.

World number two Justin Thomas and Rahm could overtake Johnson for world number one with a victory.

Mickelson fades

Phil Mickelson, a six-time US Open runner-up who turned 51 Wednesday, staggered to a 76 to end his dream of a win to complete a career Grand Slam.

The American left-hander made five bogeys and a double bogey to finish on 220.

Mickelson became the oldest major champion in golf history last month by winning the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island for his sixth major title.

gsg

Agence France-Presse


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