Here's a Look at the Contenders Heading to Sunday at the U.S. Open

Bryson DeChambeau leads but six players are within six shots at unforgiving Pinehurst No. 2.
Patrick Cantlay is in a group three shots back going into the final round at the U.S. Open.
Patrick Cantlay is in a group three shots back going into the final round at the U.S. Open. / Katie Goodale-USA TODAY Sports

PINEHURST, N.C. — Bryson DeChambeau has built a three-stroke lead—despite a late double bogey—through three rounds of the U.S. Open but with six players within six shots of the lead.

Only nine times out of the 17 previous occasions that a player held exactly a three-shot advantage did the player go on to win. And given the volatility and danger that lurks around Pinehurst No. 2, a lead would not be considered safe.

Here’s a quick look at the contenders as the final round looms:

Bryson DeChambeau (-7): The 2020 U.S. Open champion posted his seventh straight round of 69 or better in a major championship this year and doing so again might just get him in his second major title. He’s near the top of all the tournament driving statistics and has been solid around the greens. He’s played smart and it is paying off.

Matthieu Pavon (-4): The French golfer who tied for 12th at the Masters has been the surprise of the tournament after missing the cut at the PGA and having a tough week at the Memorial Tournament. He was a bit shaky on the back nine Saturday after getting a share of the lead through 10 holes and playing with DeChambeau will not be easy.

Rory McIlroy (-4): It’s all right there for McIlroy, who has gone 10 years since his fourth major victory. A lot of ups and downs for him during that time, but he's a prolific winner who has seen it all. His close calls at the British Open two years ago and the U.S. Open last year could be a blessing or a curse.

Patrick Cantlay (-4): The eight-time PGA Tour winner has a surprisingly light major championship record, with just four top-10s and four missed cuts. He’s not really been a factor since he had a back-nine chance at the 2019 Masters won by Tiger Woods. His opening-round 65 came despite hitting just 10 greens and he’s struggled for the better part of two months. But he’s one solid round away from a major title.

Hideki Matsuyama (-2): The 2021 Masters champion has been quietly lurking, having shot a second-round 66. A final-hole bogey Saturday pushed him five strokes back and he might have too many players to catch. But another 66 would make it interesting.

Ludvig Aberg (-2): The Swedish Ryder Cup player is competing in just his third major championship and first U.S. Open and he learned a hard lesson with the triple-bogey 7 he made at the 13th hole. He’s been beautiful when in position and that is perhaps where inexperience got the best of him. Still, there’s no shame in U.S. Open struggles. With nothing to lose, Aberg can make some noise on Sunday.

Tyrrell Hatton, Tony Finau (-1): Coming from six back is not out of the question, but both players need help with six players ahead of them. Finau had a costly triple bogey on Saturday and Hatton was unable to muster a back-nine birdie. Both will need their low round of the week and some backing up by the other contenders.


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Bob Harig

BOB HARIG

Bob Harig is a senior writer covering golf for Sports Illustrated. He has more than 25 years experience on the beat, including 15 at ESPN. Harig is a regular guest on Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio and has written two books, "DRIVE: The Lasting Legacy of Tiger Woods" and "Tiger and Phil: Golf's Most Fascinating Rivalry." He graduated from Indiana University where he earned an Evans Scholarship, named in honor of the great amateur golfer Charles (Chick) Evans Jr. Harig, a former president of the Golf Writers Association of America, lives in Clearwater, Fla.