world : DeChambeau sets US Open target, McIlroy one back

world : DeChambeau sets US Open target, McIlroy one back
world : DeChambeau sets US Open target, McIlroy one back

Friday 14 June 2024 11:52 PM

Nafeza 2 world - Bryson DeChambeau birdied his final hole to set the clubhouse lead midway through round two of the US Open at Pinehurst.

The American shot a one-under 69 to improve to four under, one ahead of Rory McIlroy whose 72 leaves him at three under.

DeChambeau was briefly overhauled by Thomas Detry who shot six birdies but bogeyed two of his final three holes to join the American at four under par.

It was a battling performance from McIlroy who shared the overnight lead with Patrick Cantlay on five under.

Cantlay is among the later starters on Friday, as is Sweden's Ludvig Aberg, who resumes on four under.

Meanwhile, world number one Scottie Scheffler is in danger of missing the cut for the first time since August 2022 after a ragged round of 74 left him at five over par, on the projected line.

So far, with tournament organisers watering the course between rounds, the notoriously tough Number Two at Pinehurst has yet to fully bare its teeth at the 124th US Open.

However, do not underestimate the mental challenge it poses - this course has hosted this championship three times before and only four players have finished under par.

After his 71 on Friday left him at one under, England's Tyrrell Hatton described what is happening in his head during a round as "internally screaming for the most part".

DeChambeau is making a habit of contending at majors this year with a joint sixth at the Masters and second at last month's US PGA Championship.

Thursday’s round featured just one bogey, but a helter-skelter display on Friday contained fine lengthy putts and passionate fist pumps to the delight of the massed crowds following his play.

"I'm excited for the test and challenge," said DeChambeau who had five birdies and four bogeys in his 69. "It's going to evolve, especially with the conditions being as hot as they are. If the wind picks up, it's going to be diabolical."

The last time McIlroy started a US Open without a bogey on the first day he won at Congressional in 2011 and Thursday’s clean opening round put him joint top of the early rankings.

He described day one as a “controlled round of golf” but seemed to be losing his grip when at two over par for his round, he putted straight off the green on the 17th (his eighth), only to hole the chip back to save par.

That energised him around the turn and he finally found his first birdie with a seven-footer at the third to reward a magnificent approach into the green.

He then dug out a gutsy par at the fifth to stay at four under until the final bogey cost him a share of third.

"I did a pretty good job at keeping some of the mistakes off the scorecard," said McIlroy. "I wish I had converted a couple more of the chances but I hit the ball pretty well and had plenty of opportunities.

"Still, I am in a great position going into the weekend."

He finished round two eight shots ahead of playing partner Scheffler who could face his first weekend off at a tournament in almost two years after another off-colour round of golf.

Before Friday, he had not played a birdie-free round of golf at a major tournament but could not find his form in a bruising round of 74.

There was even a minor irate outburst from the usually impassive world number one as he tossed his putter following a missed par attempt.

An erratic display was summed up by a grisly double bogey at the fifth hole after he needed two attempts to escape from some sandy scrubland.

World number two Xander Schauffele, who won last month's US PGA to register his first major title, had similar woes in the sand at five, stalling a round that had threatened to catch fire and left him at one under par.

He was joined on that mark by Hatton who hauled himself into the top five before three bogeys in four holes on the back nine checked his progress.

Fellow Englishman Tommy Fleetwood and Scotland's Robert MacIntyre are at five over and six over par respectively and waiting to see how the late wave fare with the top 60 and ties making it to the weekend.

And topsy-turvy round of the day so far goes to Sepp Straka, who had an unfortunate triple-bogey seven on the third after his ball hit the pin and ricocheted into a bunker.

However, the Austrian was high-fiving everyone in sight after registering the tournament's first hole-in-one on the par-three ninth as he posted a 72 to finish two over.

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