Golf-Swede Aberg under pressure in U.S. Open third round

By Thomson Reuters Jun 15, 2024 | 2:35 PM

(Reuters) – Ludvig Aberg will feel the heat from a chasing pack and soaring temperatures on Saturday as the Swedish sensation takes a one- shot lead into the third round of the U.S. Open at steamy Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina.

Masters runner-up Aberg, looking to become the first U.S. Open champion to win on his debut since Francis Ouimet in 1913, has been as cool under pressure all week.

But with temperatures nudging past 90 degrees Fahrenheit (33 Celsius) and seasoned campaigners Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay nipping at his heels one back the 24-year-old will need all that composure and more to remain top the leaderboard.

Aberg and 2020 U.S. Open winner DeChambeau will be the last pair to tee off at 1535 ET (1935 GMT), taking some of the heat out of the conditions but the pressure will be dialled way up on the Swede, who has largely managed to steer clear of trouble on the tricky Pinehurst No. 2.

Going off right before Aberg and DeChambeau are Cantlay and Germany’s Thomas Detry, both one of the pace while Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, seeking an elusive fifth major, will head out in the company of Tony Finau two back.

Frenchman Matthieu Pavon also sits two off the lead and will be paired with Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, who starts three behind.

Some of golf’s very best have been left baffled by the Pinehurst layout including world number one Scottie Scheffler, who for the third consecutive round could not break par, carding a one-over 71.

Scheffler, winner of five of his last eight starts and runner-up in two others, was the red hot favourite coming into Pinehurst but has been openly frustrated by his play that has him left on six-over and well out of contention.

“Another frustrating day,” summed up Scheffler. “I just didn’t make enough birdies to stay in the tournament, I think I only had four birdies for the week which is not going to get it done, the leads currently at five-under.

“Especially at a U.S. Open golf course where you know you are going to make some bogeys.

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

“It’s going to be really challenging.”

Brooks Koepka, a five-times major winner and twice U.S. Open champion, also returned a one-over 71 to join Scheffler on six over.

Former British Open champion Francesco Molinari aced his final hole on Friday to make the cut right on the number but the Italian could not carry that momentum into the third round, carding a 77 to drop to 12-over for the tournament.

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)