Rory McIlroy can chase Bryson DeChambeau down and win the U.S. Open, but how?

After posting a 1-under 69 on Saturday, Rory McIlroy enters the final round at 4-under, trailing 54-hole leader Bryson DeChambeau by three strokes.

Despite the deficit, McIlroy feels confident that he can get the job done and win his first major championship since 2014. So, what does McIlroy need to do to win the 124th U.S. Open?

First, he will need some help from DeChambeau. If DeChambeau shoots anything lower than a 1-under 69, the championship is his. The former SMU Mustang has carded three straight rounds in the 60s, so for him to fire another under-par score is not out of the question but rather the likeliest of possibilities.

Bryson DeChambeau, U.S. Open

Bryson DeChambeau on the 18th hole on Saturday.
Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images

Still, DeChambeau has fought some left misses off the tee. He has also taken some aggressive lines, most of them paying off to this point. But one bad bounce here or another unfortunate bounce there can lead to a double-bogey, which would bring McIlroy and company back into the fray.

Nonetheless, what can McIlroy control?

First, he has to be patient. If he goes flag hunting on this course, Pinehurst No. 2 will clap back and bite him in the ass. Trying to push to make birdies and taking aggressive lines can lead to bogies or worse quickly, especially with some of these diabolical pins tucked in the corners of these ‘Turtleback’ greens.

With that said, the 3rd and 5th holes present early birdie opportunities. I think he has to play those holes in 1-under, at a minimum. By the time he reaches the 6th tee, he needs to be at -5 overall.

Rory McIlroy, U.S. Open

Rory McIlroy on the 14th tee.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

He also needs to take advantage of the par-5 10th. Earlier in the week, I wrote about how par-5 scoring is imperative for McIlroy, something he has struggled with this season. But he must birdie both par-5s on Sunday to put pressure on DeChambeau. He failed to take advantage of the par-5s last year at the Los Angeles Country Club, even making a bogey on the 14th, a big reason why he lost by one. If you recall, Wyndham Clark birdied that par-5, thanks to his stellar 3-wood that found the green. That was the difference.

I would also add the shortened par-4 13th into the mix of holes McIlroy has to make a move on. Measuring only 325 yards on Sunday, McIlroy should uncork his driver and try and get it up by the green. The pin is right in the middle, but a large slope in front of it will ricochet shots off the front. That false front starts a mere feet before the cup, requiring exquisite precision with pitches and chips. McIlroy has the talent to get it close, as he did on Saturday at 13, but he will need to do that again on Sunday.

Finally, McIlroy will have to make some putts. He is currently 45th in strokes gained putting while playing beautifully from tee to green. If he can pick up a stroke on the field with his putter on Sunday, and perhaps hole a long-range bomb, he has a great chance.

But it all comes down to DeChambeau. If DeChambeau shoots 72 and McIlroy shoots 68, there you have it. Yet Bryson is the key piece to this puzzle, as it’s his championship to lose.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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