‘He nailed the drop’: U.S. Open contender gets rules break

Thanks to a "nailed" drop on the third hole during the third round of the U.S. Open, Ludvig Aberg made a key birdie.

Alex Slitz/Getty Images

At a U.S. Open at Pinehurst, with the absence of traditional rough, you’re at the mercy of whatever lie you draw in the native areas. So, naturally, it takes a little bit of good luck to win a U.S. Open here.

Ludvig Aberg got some after his tee shot on the 3rd hole Saturday.

The USGA moved up the tees on the par-4 3rd to just 316 yards to entice players to go for the green during the third round. All but five did, and three even found the putting surface with their drives.

Aberg, the 36-hole leader who is playing in his first U.S. Open and just his third major, was a part of the majority who went for it, but he double-crossed his 3-wood and sent his ball down the left side of the fairway toward the native area and wire grass.

“It’s gotta get lucky over here,” said NBC analyst Brad Faxon.

The ball took a couple of bounces in the short grass, then turned toward a sandy area, about 50 yards left of the hole. But thankfully for Aberg, there was a grandstand just in front of where his ball eventually came to rest.

He’d be entitled to line-of-sight relief from a Temporary Movable Obstruction under Rule 16.1 and Model Local Rule F-23.

“He might get back to the fairway there,” Faxon said. “You can see there where the hole location is. He’s hole high.”

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Faxon was correct. Within one club length from Aberg’s nearest point of relief, and no closer to the hole, was the short grass. But there was a catch, pointed out by on-course reporter Jim “Bones” Mackay.

“This is a very important drop here because this ball has the possibility of kicking backward towards the native area,” Mackay said.

Aberg dropped his ball. It didn’t roll an inch.

“He absolutely nailed the drop,” Mackay said.

Instead of having to deal with the potential for a sandy lie or wire grass, Aberg had a perfect lie in the fairway with 49 yards to the pin and plenty of green to work with.

“If that ball comes back another five or six inches, he looks at the possibility of playing out sideways,” Mackay said.

Aberg didn’t hit the best of pitches, landing it in the center of the green and rolling out to 30 feet, but he still drained it for birdie.

The birdie gave Aberg a two-shot lead as he pulled to one under for the day and six under for the tournament. But he immediately gave that luck back with a bogey on the 4th and fell into a tie for the lead at five under. You can follow the final round here.

Jack Hirsh

Golf.com Editor

Jack Hirsh is an assistant editor at GOLF. A Pennsylvania native, Jack is a 2020 graduate of Penn State University, earning degrees in broadcast journalism and political science. He was captain of his high school golf team and recently returned to the program to serve as head coach. Jack also still *tries* to remain competitive in local amateurs. Before joining GOLF, Jack spent two years working at a TV station in Bend, Oregon, primarily as a Multimedia Journalist/reporter, but also producing, anchoring and even presenting the weather. He can be reached at jack.hirsh@golf.com.



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