U.S. Open Winners and Losers, Saturday: Bryson’s circus, Finau’s triple, Rory, Ludvig, more

Ludvig Aberg and Bryson DeChambeau.

Ludvig Aberg and Bryson DeChambeau.

Getty Images

Who won Saturday at the U.S. Open? If you first answer is who cares, well, that’s fair. But because we don’t yet know who will win Sunday, this is the best we can offer.

Let’s get to ’em:


WHY: It’s tough to summarize everything Bryson DeChambeau did on Saturday because it felt like arguably the most consequential day of his golfing life. Bigger than Winged Foot Sunday, you ask? Okay, probably not. But there weren’t fans at Winged Foot and boy, were there ever fans at Pinehurst on Saturday. DeChambeau played to them. He played for them. He made a whopping six birdies that brought them to their feet. He hit some big drives and some preposterous recovery shots and he’s now built a three-shot lead on the rest of the field.

The most emotional moment of his press conference came as he considered how things have changed.

“It’s meant a lot to me. Just thinking back three years ago, the landscape was a lot different,” he said. “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.”

One thing is helping, of course: playing really, really good golf.


WHY: Ludvig Aberg, the 36-hole leader, fared fairly well all day with one notable exception: He made triple bogey at No. 13. What happened? First he missed the fairway. Then he was left with a difficult chip from the front of the green, fired it into the back bunker and chaos ensued.

“Obviously what happened to me on 13 is not ideal,” Aberg said. That was tough to argue with. He admitted he didn’t feel as sharp as he had on Friday; even though he looks unflappable it would be silly to think he didn’t feel the nerves. He’ll start Sunday T5, five shots back.


WHY: It’s tough to categorize Rory McIlroy’s round because while it was quite good — anything under par was, and he posted 1-under 69 — he made one bogey at No. 15 and another at No. 17 to give back two crucial shots coming home. Still, he’s T2 heading to the final round, once again in prime position to challenge for his first major in a decade.

“I’m pretty much in the same position that I was last year going into the final day at LACC,” McIlroy said, referring to last year’s U.S. Open, where he finished runner-up. “So, familiar position, been here many times before, and hopefully tomorrow I produce the golf that’s needed to go one better.”


WHY: When Tony Finau turned in 2-under 33 it looked like he could potentially seize the 54-hole lead. Instead he bogeyed 12 and then disaster struck at 13 just as it had with Aberg. Five pars to finish left him at 1 under par; he’s not out of it but further back than he was.

“Obviously 13 is going to jump out at me as a hole that was the toughest pin on the whole championship, in my opinion. That green is pretty crazy right there where that pin is. Just wrong time to miss a shot.”

Finau was proud of the way he hung in, he said. He’s just three shots out of second; his chances will hinge on DeChambeau’s Sunday.

(And shoutout Johnson Wagner, who bravely battles through the chipping yips on a nightly basis for our entertainment…)


WHY: Morikawa entered the third round at 4 over par and then shot the score of the day, 4 under par, to claw his way up the leaderboard. It was exactly the sort of round that defines major championship Saturdays; had DeChambeau not gapped the field we’d be talking more about Morikawa as a legitimate Sunday contender. Still, his goal for Saturday was to get back to even par. He did that. His goal for Sunday?

“To win. I mean, look, if I play the way I did today, who knows what could happen.”


WHY: What happened to amateur (and emerging cult hero) Neal Shipley on Saturday afternoon was a shame. The amateur and fifth-year Ohio State senior, who was low am at the Masters, ripped his drive up the short 13th to just 54 yards. From there, everything went wrong; he shorted his approach shot and then, as he addressed his third, the ball moved.

A USGA statement said it was “virtually certain” that he’d caused the ball to move. He was assessed a penalty. Our Alan Bastable had the full story here. But he left the hole with a double-bogey 6, added two more bogeys coming in and fell from three under par to one over for the day. He’ll duke it out with Luke Clanton for low am honors on Sunday.

Neal Shipley examining his ball on the 13th hole in third round of u.s. open
Neal Shipley and his moving golf ball. NBC


WHY: Cantlay didn’t have his best golf swing on Saturday but he brought his best putter; he gained more than three strokes on the field on the greens alone. He got up and down everywhere. He made two bogeys and two birdies including a 2 at the par-3 17th to finish off a round of even-par 70 that earned him a tee time with Ryder Cup rival Rory McIlroy for Sunday. Once we’re done scrutinizing the first-tee handshake it’ll be interesting to see how the two fare when it comes to chasing down the man in front.

Asked about that pairing, Cantlay didn’t yield anything.

“Yeah, should be great,” he said, adding that he wasn’t sure if they’d played together since the Ryder Cup. (They haven’t.) “I’m really happy with how I played today, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”


WHY: After two good rounds, last-minute alternate (and Jon Rahm fill-in) Jackson Suber shot 81 to plummet to T70.

After rallying to the cut line with a Friday 68, amateur Gunnar Broin made three doubles and a triple en route to a Saturday 81 to fall to T72.

After making an ace to wiggle inside the cut by a shot, Francesco Molinari faded with a Saturday 77; he’s T68.

And the man who won here 10 years ago, Martin Kaymer, had looked promising in an opening 70 and hung in with a second-round 73 but faded with a third-round 77 of his own.

We’re left with only thoroughbreds atop the leaderboard, with one exception: Frenchman Matthieu Pavon has been the biggest surprise; he hung in for a Saturday 69 to play his way into the final pairing on Sunday, where he’ll try to chase down DeChambeau.

He won’t be the only one.

Dylan Dethier

Dylan Dethier

Golf.com Editor

Dylan Dethier is a senior writer for GOLF Magazine/GOLF.com. The Williamstown, Mass. native joined GOLF in 2017 after two years scuffling on the mini-tours. Dethier is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in English, and he’s the author of 18 in America, which details the year he spent as an 18-year-old living from his car and playing a round of golf in every state.

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