Martin Kaymer had five bogeys in his third round and still managed to hold onto a five-shot lead at golf’s U.S. Open, where dry, difficult course conditions sent scores soaring.
Kaymer, seeking to add a second major title four years after winning the PGA Championship, had an eagle to offset his bogeys as he fell back two shots to 8 under par overall. He ended his round by sinking a six-foot putt on the 18th hole for a 2-over 72. Kaymer had one bogey over his first two rounds.
The 29-year-old German won the PGA Championship in 2010 and spent six weeks as the No. 1 player in the official World Golf Ranking in 2011 before slipping as low as No. 61 six weeks ago. He captured the U.S. PGA Tour’s Players championship last month and would be the first to win the Players and the U.S. Open in the same year.
“I made a couple bad swings on the front nine, but only made bogeys so that’s OK,” Kaymer said after his round. “I’m happy. Eight under after three rounds is a good score.”
No player in the 113 previous U.S. Opens has lost when holding a lead of at least five shots entering the final round.
Americans Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton, the 187th-ranked player in the world, are second at 3 under after tying for the day’s low score with 3-under-par 67s.
“You definitely have to stay away from making big numbers,” Fowler said. “There’s only a few times where you can get aggressive and actually try and make birdies here.”
Fowler and Compton are one shot ahead of American Dustin Johnson, who lost to Kaymer in a playoff at the 2010 PGA Championship, and Henrik Stenson, the world No. 2 from Sweden. Brandt Snedeker of the U.S. is alone in sixth at 1 under, a shot ahead of fellow Americans Matt Kuchar, Kevin Na and Brooks Koepka.
With no rain overnight and temperatures reaching a high of 86 degrees (30 Celsius) today, Fowler and Compton were the only two players to finish the third round under par. Boo Weekley shot 80 after rounds of 71 and 73, and Toru Taniguchi of Japan shot 18-over 88 after starting the day at 5 over par. Kevin Stadler made a quadruple-bogey 8 on his opening hole and finished with a 78, 10 shots higher than his second round. Brendon Todd, Kaymer’s third-round playing partner, shot 79.
“They made sure that there’s no low scores out there,” Retief Goosen, a two-time U.S. Open winner who shot 1-over 71 in his third round, told reporters. “Every pin was pretty much in its toughest position out there.”
Kaymer shot a second straight 5-under-par 65 yesterday at the revamped Pinehurst No. 2 course. His two-round total of 10-under 130 was the lowest through two rounds in the U.S. Open’s 114-year history.
Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson shot 2-over-par 72 today with one birdie and three bogeys. The six-time U.S. Open runner-up is 5 over for the tournament. The 43-year-old left-hander is tied for 30th and managed to joke about his chances of victory when asked about his plan for tomorrow’s final round.
“If I play well -- if I hit it better and make some putts, I think I can shoot 4 or 5 under par, end around even and finish second again,” Mickelson said, drawing laughter.
Defending champion Justin Rose of England shot even-par 70 to remain at 1 over for the tournament, tied for 10th place, while 2013 Masters Tournament winner Adam Scott had four bogeys over his final 10 holes and shot 3-over 73 to fall 11 shots off the lead.
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