Bryson DeChambeau takes control of the U.S. Open; triple bogey dooms Utahn Tony Finau

The 2020 champion holds a three-shot lead heading into the final round.

Pinehurst, N.C. • Bryson DeChambeau is 18 holes away from winning the U.S. Open.

DeChambeau opened up a commanding lead during the third round at Pinehurst No. 2 on Saturday, shooting a 3-under 67 to get to 7-under-par for the week. He is three shots ahead of Rory McIlroy, Patrick Cantlay and Matthieu Pavon, who are all 4-under-par.

It was a steely round for DeChambeau, who flirted with winning each of the first two majors this year but settled for tied-sixth and solo second at the Masters and PGA Championship. Now he’s in line for his second career major championship win — the first was the 2020 U.S. Open at Winged Foot. That round was played in the pandemic with no fans on the course. A year later DeChambeau was dealing with intense scrutiny and, oftentimes, jeers from fans. On Saturday he was the fan’s hero, drawing huge support throughout the afternoon.

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

But like most things with DeChambeau, Saturday was not without its twists and turns. He’s apparently working through a right hip injury.

DeChambeau called for a physiotherapist as he was making the turn to the back nine and received treatments in between holes.

“Yeah, it was tougher to get through on a couple shots. It’s OK. I’ve had it for a long time now. It’s just something that popped up,” DeChambeau said.

It had not to that point affected his play — DeChambeau hit his drive on No. 8 375 yards, parred the par-3 ninth and then made a birdie on No. 10 to rise to the solo lead at 6-under-par. He continued to build on the lead with a birdie on No. 14.

NBC drone cameras caught DeChambeau with the physio in the woods near the No. 11 hole, then DeChambeau drove the golf ball 359 yards.

“The two weeks I had off after PGA, I was really grinding and focusing on some stuff there. I wasn’t really able to rest,” DeChambeau said. “I’ve just been pushing myself a little bit, pushing the horse a bit. Consequently that’s going to happen.”

The scene harkened back to Scottie Scheffler at March’s Players Championship when he dealt with a neck issue during a round and had to receive treatments for it during play.

DeChambeau began Saturday at 4 under, a stroke behind leader Ludvig Åberg, and tied with Cantlay and Thomas Detry. Three others — McIlroy, Pavon and Tony Finau — were at 3 under.

Pavon rose up to 6 under and the lead, only to stumble with a back-nine 37. McIlroy got to 6 under and then bogeyed Nos. 15 and 17. Cantlay shot an even-par 70 after going 1 under on the back nine.

Pavon will play in the final group with DeChambeau, with McIlroy and Cantlay together.

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

Finau and Aberg suffered a shockingly similar fate — each triple-bogeyed the par-4 13th within moments of each other, their balls going from one side of the green to the other and effectively ending their U.S. Open hopes. Finau also had bogeyed the 12th hole.

DeChambeau led by four shots through 15 holes. But he double-bogeyed the difficult par-4 16th, bringing his lead to two shots. DeChambeau responded with a clutch birdie on the par-3 17th and a tap-in par on 18, giving him a three-shot cushion and the solo 54-hole lead.