SAN DIEGO, Calif.:Bryson DeChambeau was closing in on a successful defence of his U.S. Open title on Sunday, moving top of the leaderboard with Louis Oosthuizen to set the stage for back-nine drama at Torrey Pines with an all-star pack of major winners in hot pursuit.
DeChambeau, who began the final round two shots back, turned in an error-free outward nine that featured two birdies including one at the par-three eighth that was nearly an ace, his ball stopping an inch shy of dropping in the cup.
Still, the tap in birdie was enough to get DeChambeau to two-under on the day and one clear until South African Oosthuizen, who had a share of the overnight lead, picked up his first birdie of the day at the ninth.
Adding to the major drama, lurking menacingly one shot back were Northern Irishman Rory McIlroy, Americans Collin Morikawa and Brooks Koepka, major winners all, and world number three Spaniard Jon Rahm.
The final round began with three players, Oosthuizen, American Russell Henley and Canadian MacKenzie Hughes tied for the lead at five under.
But as they made the turn Henley and Hughes were feeling the pressure, slipping down the leaderboard as the big names made their moves.
Hughes, who had missed five consecutive cuts coming into the U.S. Open, had been on a magical run at Torrey Pines but saw that come to an end with three bogeys on his opening six holes before stopping the slide with birdies at seven and nine to get back to four-under and one behind the two frontrunners.
Henley also wobbled badly into the turn with three consecutive bogeys from the sixth to fall three back.
(Writing by Steve Keating, reporting by Andrew Both,Editing by Toby Davis and Ed Osmond)