PINEHURST, US: Germany’s Martin Kaymer battled through adversity to remain in command of the US Open, closing with a birdie to seize a five-stroke lead after Saturday’s (Sunday in Manila) third round at Pinehurst.
Kaymer, whose 65-65 start was a 36-hole US Open record, made bogeys on three of the first six holes and two more on the back nine Saturday but eagled the fifth and sank an eight-foot birdie putt at 18 to fire a two-over par 72 and stand on eight-under 202 for 54 holes.
“It was good. I didn’t play as good as the first two days but I kept it very well together,” Kaymer said. “Though I didn’t hit as many great shots, overall it’s a decent round.”
Kaymer could become only the seventh wire-to-wire US Open winner, joining Tiger Woods Rory McIlroy, Walter Hagen, Ben Hogan, Tony Jacklin and James Barnes.
“I’m looking forward to see how I react to certain situations,” Kaymer said. “Anything can happen. I can lead by seven or eight shots after nine holes. I can be down to all square. So it will be an exciting round.
“It’ll be interesting how I handle it.”
Not since Mike Brady squandered a five-shot edge in 1919 has a US Open 54-hole leader had such a margin and failed to win the title.
Tougher pin placements by the US Golf Association (USGA), what Kaymer’s playing partner Brendon Todd called “a little bit of a revenge,” produced only two players with sub-par rounds — Americans Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton. Each shot 67 to share second on 207.
Sweden’s Henrik Stenson and American Dustin Johnson, who each shot 70, shared fourth on 208 with American Brandt Snedeker the only other player under par for the event on 201.
If Snedeker wins, he would match the greatest last-day comeback in US Open history, the epic seven-stroke rally by Arnold Palmer in 1960 at Cherry Hills.