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Aberg grabs early lead with Tiger one back at US Open

football13 June 2024 13:40| © Reuters
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Ludvig Aberg © Getty Images

Tiger Woods was among a host of contenders chasing sixth-ranked Ludvig Aberg, who grabbed the early US Open lead with two morning birdies on Thursday at Pinehurst.


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Sweden's Aberg, runner-up at April's Masters in his major debut, began on the back nine and birdied the par-4 11th and 12th holes to move atop the leaderboard.

Aberg sank birdie putts from just inside 19 feet at 11 and from 32 feet at 12 to jump into the lead.

Woods, a 15-time major winner struggling to overcome severe leg injuries from a 2021 car crash, started on the back nine with a birdie at the par-5 10th, sinking a putt from just inside 12 feet.

Woods added a 10-foot par putt at the 12th and another from just inside nine feet at 13 to stay in a pack at 1-under, but missed an 11-foot birdie putt at 14 to grab a share of the lead.

Also charging early was Logan McAllister, a 24-year-old American who began in the first group. He made an eagle at the par-5 fifth to seize the lead briefly, only to fall back with a bogey at the eighth.

World number 459 McAllister, who missed the cut in his only PGA Tour start at the 2022 Texas Open, reached the green in two from dirt left of the fifth fairway, then sank a seven-foot eagle putt.

Others on 1-under early included ninth-ranked Patrick Cantlay, fellow American Tony Finau, Sweden's Tim Widing and South African Casey Jarvis.

 PUNISHING PINEHURST 

The formidable 7 543-yard sandhills layout tested players with lightning-fast elevated domed greens, sandy waste areas and native wiregrass.

Among 468 players in three prior US Opens at Pinehurst, only four broke par for 72 holes and just one, 2014 champion Martin Kaymer of Germany, finished better than one-under, winning by eight strokes on nine-under.

World No 1 Scottie Scheffler, second-ranked Xander Schauffele and third-ranked Rory McIlroy tee off together in the afternoon feature group.

Scheffler is considered the man to beat with five US PGA Tour victories this year, the most by any player at this stage since Tom Watson in 1980.

Two-time Masters champion Scheffler has 12 top-10 showings in 13 starts this year and could match 15-time major winner Woods as the only players to win a US Open while atop the world rankings.

Schauffele won last month's PGA Championship for his first major title, snapping a two-year win drought.

McIlroy has five consecutive top-10 finishes at the US Open, improving every year in the run to place second in 2023.

Seventh-ranked Collin Morikawa, a two-time major winner, was 1-over after a bogey at the fourth hole.

Morikawa shared third at the Masters in April and fourth at last month's PGA Championship. He was runner-up to Scheffler at last week's Memorial tournament.

With Monday's qualifying deadline looming, Morikawa is clinging to the fourth and final US berth for the Paris Olympics behind Scheffler, Schauffele and defending US Open champion Wyndham Clark.

Six Americans can overtake him, but five of them need a victory to do it.

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