LA JOLLA, United States – Journeyman Russell Henley birdied the ninth hole to grab a two-stroke lead midway through his third round on Saturday at the US Open while Rory McIlroy and Bryson DeChambeau have led a charge against some of the best stars in golf.
American Henley, who hasn’t won a US PGA event for four years, clocked two birdies and two bogeys in the first six holes, then birdie putt 12 feet in the ninth par-5. to be 6 under the par at Pins de Torrey.
England’s Richard Bland, who was trying to become the oldest US Open champion at 48, was second at 4 under.
Quadruple major winner McIlroy holds the clubhouse lead on par 210 three-under after a closing birdie to shoot four-under on par 67.
“I thought I played well the last two days, but I didn’t get much out of it. Today I did it, ”McIlroy said.
“I always felt comfortable, I played well here. This is one of those courses. There are some issues off the tee, but if you miss it you can get it back.
Defending champion DeChambeau, 2020 US Open finalist Matthew Wolff and third-placed Spaniard Jon Rahm were still on the 3-under course.
DeChambeau hit seven-foot birdie putts on the first and sixth holes and hit an eight-foot hole on the 13th par-5 to come close to three.
World number 63 Henley, without finishing in the top 10 in 26 major starts, pushed back his playing partner Bland, who had 34 for 34 putts within 10 feet before a miss of just under nine feet in the fifth.
Bland, who only played his fourth major tournament and his second event in the United States, won his first European Tour title at the British Masters last month after 478 starts in 25 years.
Bland is chasing the US Open winner’s age mark set by Hale Irwin, who was 45 when he won in Medinah in 1990.
Henley opened with a 13-foot birdie putt, but found the right rough with his next two strokes for bogey the second to get back to Bland’s level.
Henley birdieed in the fourth just outside seven feet, but found a bunker on the green on the sixth and bogeyed.
McIlroy, chasing his first major win since 2014, landed a four-foot birdie putt in the second, then birdied three on the first four holes of the back nine, sandwiching five-foot birdie putts at 10 and 13 around a spectacular 32-yard chip-in from the deep rough in the 12th.
McIlroy’s tee shot in the 15th sailed left and landed 30 feet along an embankment at the edge of an ocean cliff. He took a penalty right off a cart track and picked up a bogey and birdied a stroke at the 18th par-5.
Wolff opened with a birdie but bogeyed a seven. The 22-year-old American is coming back from a two-month hiatus for his sanity.
Rahm has spent most of the last week in quarantine after contracting Covid-19 and being forced to withdraw from the US PGA Memorial after taking a six-stroke lead over 54 holes.
Top-ranked Dustin Johnson finished with back-to-back birdies to shoot 68, with the two-time major winner standing on 212.
World number two Justin Thomas and Rahm could overtake Johnson to world number one with a victory.
Six-time US Open runner-up Phil Mickelson who turned 51 on Wednesday rose to a 76 to end his dream of winning to end a Grand Slam career.
The American left-hander completed five bogeys and a double bogey to finish on 220.
Mickelson became the oldest major champion in golf history last month when he won the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island for his sixth major title.
France Media Agency
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