Aberg grinds to one-stroke US Open lead as Scheffler struggles

Ludvig Aberg of Sweden plays his shot from the fourth tee during the second round of the 124th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort on June 14, 2024 in Pinehurst, North Carolina. AFP

Sweden’s Ludwig Aberg grinded his way to a one-stroke lead after Friday’s second round of the US Open while top-ranked Scottie Scheffler and other favorites struggled at punishing Pinehurst.

Sixth-ranked Aberg, a runner-up at April’s Masters in his major debut, fired a one-under par 69 to finish 36 holes on five-under 135.

“I hit it very nicely,” Aberg said. “It was obviously very challenging, and it’s not an easy golf course to play. But I felt like we stayed very disciplined, stayed very patient, and tried to hit it to our targets.”

He had been sharing the lead with France’s Matthieu Pavon, but the back-nine starter closed his round with bogeys at eight and the par-3 ninth to shoot 70 and share fifth.

“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,” Aberg said.

One adrift in second were 2020 US Open winner Bryson DeChambeau, fellow American Patrick Cantlay and Belgium’s Thomas Detry.

Four-time major winner Rory McIlroy, seeking his first major triumph in 10 years, shot 72 to share fifth with American Tony Finau and 24th-ranked Pavon on 137 and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, the 2021 Masters champion, was eighth on 138 after a bogey-free 66.

Pre-tournament favorite Scheffler made the cut on the number at five-over 145 after shooting 74 in the first birdie-less major round of his career.

The two-time Masters champion was undone by bogeys at the par-3 15th and 17th and a double bogey at the par-5 fifth.

“It was definitely a grind,” said Scheffler. “I’m proud of how I fought. I gave myself a good chance. Today I just couldn’t get the putts to fall.

“This golf course can be unpredictable at times, and maybe it got the better of me the last couple days.”

Aberg, 24, sank a 30-foot birdie putt at the second hole and an 11-footer to birdie the par-5 fifth to grab the lead.

He answered a bogey at eight with a birdie at 12 but found a greenside bunker at 16 for another bogey only to have Pavon stumble late.

Pavon won in January at Torrey Pines to become the first Frenchman since 1907 to win a US PGA Tour event. He said his winning would boost French golf.

“It would mean everything. It would be huge,” Pavon said. “Having someone capable to lift the trophy like that would be pretty big for me and my country.”

DeChambeau made five birdies and four bogeys with a tap-in birdie at 18 keeping him solidly in the hunt.

“Was very happy with how I stayed patient, gave myself good opportunities when they mattered, and I made a lot of clutch putts coming in,” DeChambeau said.

Detry, ranked 55th, matched his PGA Tour best finish with a runner-up effort in March’s Houston Open.

The 31-year-old Belgian had his best major finish last month with a share of fourth at the PGA Championship.

“My confidence is good. My play is good. I feel mentally stable as well,” Detry said. “I think it’s going to be a fun challenge.”

Cantlay shared the 18-hole lead with McIlroy after a 65.

“Was a lot firmer than yesterday,” Cantlay said. “It’s going to be a challenge the rest of the weekend.”

Tiger misses cut

McIlroy closed with a bogey at the ninth. He also had bogeys at 11 and the par-3 15th against a lone birdie at the third.

“Had to have your wits about you,” McIlroy said. “I wish I had converted a couple more of the chances. Still overall in a great position going into the weekend.”

The four-time major winner from Northern Ireland played alongside Scheffler and second-ranked Xander Schauffele, who won last month’s PGA Championship.

Schauffele was four off the lead after shooting 69 to stand on 139.

Matsuyama hopes to sustain his momentum.

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