Skip to content

3 reasons Sunday will be must-see TV at Pinehurst

Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The field is looking up at Bryson DeChambeau with one round to play in the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.

DeChambeau produced a 3-under 67 in challenging conditions Saturday to pull away from the pack and take a three-stroke led to the final day.

His showmanship and a spicy pairing in the second-to-last group are among the three reasons to be excited for Sunday.


Aside from Jon Rahm, you could easily argue that nobody has benefitted more from the move to LIV Golf than DeChambeau. The 2020 U.S. Open champ has always been a brilliant talent, but he was a polarizing figure while on the PGA TOUR. That's changed drastically since his move to LIV, with his YouTube videos captivating an audience as he attempts various golf challenges. It's tough to find a more universally loved golfer in the professional game.

While DeChambeau's outrageous distance and power get the headlines, it's his short-game ability that's shone at Pinehurst through three rounds. The 30-year-old ranks 16th in strokes gained: around the green and fifth in putting - a dangerous combo when paired with his driving ability. DeChambeau will likely have the most boisterous crowd support Sunday as he looks to grab his second major.

There's also DeChambeau's antics, which generate plenty of viral moments. His constant interaction with the crowd is incredibly refreshing; he had a humorous exchange on the tee of the short par-4 13th when he apologized to fans for not attempting to drive the green.

Win or lose Sunday, DeChambeau is guaranteed to be an enthralling watch.

Rory paired with Cantlay

This was the scene on the final green the last time Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay were in the same group at a golf tournament:

For the uninitiated, that's Cantlay's caddie, Joe LaCava, deliberately getting in McIlroy's way at the Ryder Cup. The backstory of the drama revolved around a report that Cantlay refused to wear a team hat at the event in protest of his lack of pay for participating. The Americans refuted that claim, but the crowd in Italy hounded Cantlay throughout his Saturday afternoon match.

After Cantlay canned a clutch 40-footer on the final green, LaCava and the rest of the American team waved their hats above their head in celebration. That would've been fine, but LaCava lingered far too long and was in McIlroy's line as he attempted to read his putt that would tie the hole. McIlroy would eventually miss, leading to a massive blowout outside the team hotel later in the night.

McIlroy has offered his view of events on numerous occasions since, saying his relationship with Cantlay is "average at best" and that they "see the world quite differently."

Now the two will play together Sunday - as dramatic a pairing as golf can give you. Add the major championship pressure on an incredibly difficult course as both try to chase down DeChambeau, and the ingredients are ripe for a powder keg of emotion.

Pinehurst's setup

The setup at Pinehurst has been outstanding all week, with pinpoint shots rewarded and those missing their spot being repelled by the domed greens on the No. 2 layout.

It's a breath of fresh air after the soggy conditions at Valhalla at last month's PGA Championship yielded a winning score of 21-under. It seemed almost impossible to make a bogey on the final day in Kentucky, removing a great deal of drama from the event. While the event still had a dramatic finish between DeChambeau and Xander Schauffele, the rest of the day lacked the edge-of-your-seat experience.

That certainly isn't the case at Pinehurst, as evidenced by triple bogeys on No. 13 by both Tony Finau and Ludvig Aberg on Saturday and DeChambeau's own double-bogey on No. 16. Those three players were all in the final three groups Saturday and were among the leaders when trouble hit.

DeChambeau was able to rebound with a birdie on the 17th hole, but Finau and Aberg essentially shot themselves out of the tournament on one hole. That type of danger will make Sunday some must-see television as the players hit the closing stretch of the golf course.

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox