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Rising Swedish star Ludvig Aberg leads US Open by one stroke at halfway mark

Just a year after turning professional, Sweden's Ludvig Aberg holds a one-shot lead at the halfway stage of his US Open debut and only the third major championship of his career.

Aberg added a 69 to his opening 66 at Pinehurst to finish five under par, a shot ahead of Belgium's Thomas Detry and the American pair of Bryson DeChambeau and Patrick Cantlay.

Rory McIlroy, Tony Finau and Matthieu Pavon lie two shots off the lead on three under, Pavon dropping shots on his last two holes on Friday.

The last player to win the US Open on their tournament debut was amateur Francis Ouimet in 1913, but Aberg repeating that feat would come as no great surprise following an extraordinary start to his professional career.

Aberg joined the paid ranks in June 2023 but quickly won on the DP World Tour, helped Europe regain the Ryder Cup in Rome — including a record 9&7 win with Viktor Hovland over Scottie Scheffler and Brooks Koepka — and also tasted victory on the PGA Tour before the end of the season.

Such performances earned the 24-year-old a major debut at the Masters and he pushed Scheffler all the way in April before the world number one pulled away to claim a second green jacket at Augusta National.

"I think a US Open is supposed to be hard," Aberg said. "It's supposed to be tricky and it's supposed to challenge any aspect of your game and I feel like it's really doing that.

"But I'm 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."

Scheffler made the halfway cut on the mark of five over par following a second round of 74, while former Open champion Francesco Molinari did so in amazing fashion with a hole-in-one on the ninth, his last hole of the day.

McIlroy had hoped to exploit ideal conditions and fresh greens on Friday morning but hit a mediocre chip from short of the green on his opening hole, the par-five 10th, and was unable to convert the birdie putt from 12 feet.

That was McIlroy's first five of the week — he had birdied both par fives on Thursday — and another soon followed on the 11th when he was unable to get up and down after a slightly pulled approach span back off the green.

McIlroy also bogeyed the par-three 15th and the Northern Irishman's day looked set to go from bad to worse when his birdie putt on the 17th rolled past the hole and off the front of the green, but he promptly chipped in for an unorthodox par.

A first birdie of the day finally arrived on the third and McIlroy made a vital save on the fifth after seeing Scheffler and Xander Schauffele both run up double-bogey sevens after needing two attempts to find the putting surface from the native area left of the green.

McIlroy's approach had also ended up in the same area but he wisely cut his losses with a more conservative third shot across the green and two-putted for par, although he ended the day with a bogey on the ninth.

"Obviously it didn't go quite as well as yesterday, but I feel like the golf course played a little more difficult, even though we were off in the morning," McIlroy said.

"Overall I felt like I did a pretty good job at keeping some of the mistakes off the scorecard. I wish I had converted a couple more of the chances. Hit the ball pretty well. I think only missed one fairway. So I had plenty of opportunities.

"Wasn't quite as good with the putter today but still overall in a great position going into the weekend."

DeChambeau finished second in a US PGA Championship which featured record low scoring last month, but insisted he was ready for a completely different challenge at Pinehurst.

"Even though it was a morning round, it actually started to get pretty firm already, which is a sign that they want this golf course rolling by tomorrow and Sunday," the 2020 champion said.

"I'm excited for the test and challenge and I think it's going to continue to evolve, especially with the conditions being as hot as they are.

"If the wind picks up, it's going to be diabolical."

Northern Ireland's Tom McKibbin birdied the 18th to make the cut on the mark on his major championship debut, but Robert MacIntyre, Viktor Hovland and Justin Rose all missed out by a shot.

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