| 8.6°C Belfast

Magnificent Matthew Wolff takes two-shot lead into final round of US Open

Victory on Sunday would make Wolff the first player to win the US Open on his debut since Francis Ouimet, 107 years ago to the day.

Close

Matthew Wolff holds a two-shot lead after 54 holes of his US Open debut (Charles Krupa/AP)

Matthew Wolff holds a two-shot lead after 54 holes of his US Open debut (Charles Krupa/AP)

Matthew Wolff holds a two-shot lead after 54 holes of his US Open debut (Charles Krupa/AP)

America’s Matthew Wolff has an historic victory in his sights after a stunning performance on his US Open debut at Winged Foot.

Wolff began the day four shots off the lead but compiled a brilliant third-round 65 to finish five under par and two strokes ahead of Bryson DeChambeau, with former Open champion Louis Oosthuizen the only other player in red figures on one under.

Hideki Matsuyama, Harris English and Xander Schauffele share fourth place on level par, with Rory McIlroy a shot further back following a 68.

Halfway leader Patrick Reed was alongside Wolff after nine holes, but the former Masters champion collapsed to a 77 after an inward half of 43.

Victory on Sunday would make Wolff the first player to win the US Open on his debut since Francis Ouimet, 107 years ago to the day since the 20-year-old amateur defeated six-time Open champion Harry Vardon and two-time major winner Ted Ray in an 18-hole play-off.

Wolff is just a year older than Ouimet, turning professional in June 2019 after winning the prestigious NCAA individual title. Six weeks later he won the 3M Open on the PGA Tour in his third start in the paid ranks with an eagle on the 72nd hole.

His unique, highly unorthodox swing is triggered with a pronounced flexing of the knees but is proving hugely effective in the biggest events after he finished fourth – behind 23-year-old Collin Morikawa – on his major debut in last month’s US PGA Championship.

McIlroy has certainly not given up on his bid to win a second US Open title, the four-time major winner bouncing back from a second round of 76 to get within six shots of the lead.

“It was really good,” McIlroy said of a round containing three birdies and one bogey. “The key for me was just to play the first five holes well.

“I saw from a few of the guys early on they were playing really tough, so to get through those in even par, I knew that middle section of the round you could maybe make a couple of birdies and then you sort of have to hang on coming in.

Close

Rory McIlroy hits out of the rough on the 14th hole during the third round of the US Open (Charles Krupa/AP)

Rory McIlroy hits out of the rough on the 14th hole during the third round of the US Open (Charles Krupa/AP)

AP/PA Images

Rory McIlroy hits out of the rough on the 14th hole during the third round of the US Open (Charles Krupa/AP)

“I executed the game plan really well, knocked a couple in when I could and yeah, a really good round of golf. If I’m within six going into tomorrow that’s not a lot on this golf course. I feel like I’m right in it.”

Alex Noren’s 67 was the second best score of the day and left the Swede on three over, while Ryder Cup team-mate Paul Casey also broke par with a remarkable comeback from a nightmare start.

Casey slumped to 11 over par after five bogeys in the first seven holes, but stopped the rot with a birdie on the ninth, reeled off four more in a row from the 11th and also birdied the last to storm home in 30 for a 69 to finish five over.

“In all honesty I kind of wanted to walk in after the first five, six, seven holes. It was just ugly,” Casey said.

“I was just trying not to shoot 80 after that front nine. I’m glad I finally got one off of Winged Foot.

“It takes its pound of flesh every single time you seem to play this golf course, so I feel like I got an ounce or two of my own flesh back.”

PA