Swede sensation as Aberg snares US Open halfway lead

Phil Casey |

Bryson DeChambeau hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during the second round of the US Open.
Bryson DeChambeau hits his tee shot on the 15th hole during the second round of the US Open.

Swedish phenomenon Ludvig Aberg will carry a one-shot lead into the third round of the US Open as he aims to become the first debut winner for 111 years.

Just a year after turning professional, Aberg added a 69 to his opening 66 at Pinehurst No.2 to move to five under par, a shot ahead of Belgium’s Thomas Detry (67) and Americans Bryson DeChambeau (69) and Patrick Cantlay (71).

Rory McIlroy (72), Tony Finau (69) and Matthieu Pavon (70) are two shots off the lead on three under.

The last player to win the US Open on their tournament debut was amateur Francis Ouimet in 1913, but Aberg repeating that feat would come as no great surprise following an extraordinary start to his professional career.

Aberg joined the paid ranks in June 2023 but quickly won on the DP World Tour, helped Europe regain the Ryder Cup in Rome – including a record 9/7 win with Viktor Hovland over Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka – and also tasted victory on the PGA Tour before the end of the season.

Such performances earned the 24-year-old a major debut at the Masters, and he pushed Scheffler all the way in April before the world No.1 pulled away to claim a second green jacket at Augusta National.

“I think a US Open is supposed to be hard,” Aberg said. “It’s supposed to be tricky and it’s supposed to challenge any aspect of your game, and I feel like it’s really doing that.

“But I’m super fortunate with the way that things have turned out over the last couple days and hopefully we’ll be able to keep it up.”

Scheffler made the halfway cut on the mark of five over par following a second-round 74, while former British Open champion Francesco Molinari did so in amazing fashion with a hole-in-one on the ninth, his last hole of the day.

McIlroy had hoped to exploit ideal conditions and fresh greens on Friday morning but never really got going.

A first birdie of the round finally arrived on the third – his 12th hole of the day – and McIlroy made a vital save on the fifth after seeing Scheffler and Xander Schauffele both run up double-bogey sevens after needing two attempts to find the putting surface from the native area left of the green.

Rory McIlroy.
Rory McIlroy was one of many players to be challenged by the Pinehurst greens. (AP PHOTO)

McIlroy’s approach had also ended up in the same area, but he wisely cut his losses with a more conservative third shot across the green and two-putted for par, although he ended the day with a bogey on the ninth.

“Obviously it didn’t go quite as well as yesterday, but I feel like the golf course played a little more difficult, even though we were off in the morning,” McIlroy said.

DeChambeau finished second in a US PGA Championship that featured record low scoring last month, but insisted he was ready for a completely different challenge at Pinehurst.

“Even though it was a morning round, it actually started to get pretty firm already, which is a sign that they want this golf course rolling by tomorrow and Sunday,” the 2020 champion said.

“If the wind picks up, it’s going to be diabolical.”

PA