US Open: Box office Bryson DeChambeau receives mid-round physiotherapy in woods – then muscles into lead

Bryson DeChambeau lay sprawled on his back, gazing up at the towering pine trees as a physiotherapist worked him over. Then he got up, dusted himself down, and wrenched control of the US Open.

North Carolina’s sweltering Pinehurst No. 2 course became an impromptu stage for the big-hitting, fist-pumping DeChambeau show on Saturday, as the American surged into a three stroke lead with a captivating third round performance.

The in-form LIV Golf star rolled in six birdies en route to a three-under 67 – the second-best score of the round – to take a giant step closer to a second US Open title, having powered to a six-shot victory at Winged Foot Golf Club, New York in 2020.

“Amazing. Made a lot of great putts today, I’ll tell you that,” DeChambeau, who finished tied-sixth at the Masters and runner-up at the PGA Championship, told reporters.

“Tomorrow, it’s the same quote I’ve said all week: Trying to have boring golf. Middle of the greens never move, so I am going to try and hit a lot of the greens, give myself some good looks on some holes and two-putt a lot.”

Few would have described DeChambeau’s golf as boring on Saturday. Tournament organizers issued an extreme heat warning ahead of tee off as temperatures ticked past the 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) mark, yet DeChambeau showed little interest in playing it cool.

Fired up from the outset, the Californian’s animated reactions to shots wooed those behind the ropes. Once maligned by some golf fans, DeChambeau – whose personal YouTube channel continues to amass subscribers – has embraced his new-found role as a crowd-favorite.

DeChambeau wooed crowds at Pinehurst. - Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
DeChambeau wooed crowds at Pinehurst. - Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

After one of many booming tee drives, the 30-year-old paused his walk down the third fairway to sign autographs, yet the most personal interaction would follow at the 13th tee box. Weighing up which club to choose, DeChambeau jokingly begged for fans not to boo him as he opted not to drive the 368-yard par four.

“I can’t thank them enough,” DeChambeau replied when asked about the fan support. “It was a blessing. Man, they riled me up.”

“Just thinking back three years ago, the landscape was a lot different,” he added later. “I tried to show everybody who I was. I didn’t do it the right way and could have done a lot of things better.

“I’m lucky enough to have a great team around me to help me move in the right direction with the content that we’re producing, social media, and then also just a great perspective on life.

“Those combination of things have allowed me to not only have a new perspective but an opportunity to show myself in a different light and to entertain the fans out there on the golf course.”

The hole was a perfect encapsulation of DeChambeau’s box office day. After his tee shot pulled into a bunker, the American came close to holing out with his mesmerizing subsequent swing.

Even when a costly roll back off the green led to a double bogey at the 16th, DeChambeau responded immediately with a birdie at the following par-three.

To top it all off, there was a spot of mid-round physiotherapy – permitted by the PGA Tour – in the woods ahead of the 11th hole. The intervention was due to hip discomfort, DeChambeau said, adding that it had been an issue for a “long time.”

“I’ve been playing a lot of good golf lately, and … trying to get my house finished, so I haven’t really had time to rest like I want to,” he said.

“I’ve just been pushing myself a little bit, consequently that’s going to happen. But I’ve got a great team around me to help fix some stuff up.”

McIlroy in the hunt but Scheffler kept in ‘mental torture chamber’

Three shots back in a three-way share of second, world No. 3 Rory McIlroy remains within striking distance of ending his 10-year wait for a fifth major title.

“I love the test that Pinehurst is presenting,” McIlroy told reporters. “You’ve got to focus and concentrate on every single shot out there. It’s what a U.S. Open should be like.”

McIlroy is well-placed to challenge for a fifth major title. - Matt York/AP
McIlroy is well-placed to challenge for a fifth major title. - Matt York/AP

The Northern Irishman’s third round 69 was mirrored by Matthieu Pavon, a surprise contender at the major who became the first Frenchman to win on the PGA Tour in 117 years in January.

“It has been a remarkable journey for me,” Pavon told reporters.

“I just love competing here … I’m a pretty regular guy, and it’s just awesome to be here.”

McIlroy and Pavon are joined at four-under by American Patrick Cantlay, who shot even-par 70 as he seeks to add major triumph to his eight PGA Tour titles.

Scottie Scheffler’s struggles continued, with the world No. 1 carding a one-over 71 that slid him further down the leaderboard and all but extinguished any hopes of him delivering on his designation as the pre-tournament favorite.

Having opened with the same score Thursday, The 27-year-old had cut an atypically irritated figure en route to a second round 74 that was just enough to make the cut, and his discontent trickled into the weekend despite an improved performance.

“Another frustrating day,” Scheffler told reporters. “Today was a day where I thought I played a lot better than my score.

“I’m having a lot of trouble reading these greens. I had a lot of putts today where I felt like I hit it really good. I looked up and they were not going the way I thought they were going to go.”

Scheffler's difficult week continued. - Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Scheffler's difficult week continued. - Andrew Redington/Getty Images

With five wins in eight starts heading into Pinehurst, it has been a season of historic dominance for Scheffler, but the reigning Masters champion made a rare slice of unwanted history after he was unable to birdie the final hole.

Having closed with a two-over 74 at last week’s Memorial Tournament – albeit with the caveat that he won the event – Scheffler’s third round 71 marked the first time he has shot four consecutive rounds over par in a professional career that has spanned 120 PGA Tour events.

Six strokes behind the group in tied-ninth, it will require a rousing late flourish for Scheffler to extend his run of three consecutive top-10 finishes at the major.

“The game of golf is a mental torture chamber at times, especially the U.S. Open,” he said.

“Wouldn’t be using me as a bearing for what’s good right now. Pretty mediocre at best right now,” he added.

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