June 15 (Bloomberg) -- Martin Kaymer holds a seven-shot lead at 9 under par with two holes to play in the final round of the U.S. Open, where the former world No. 1 player is seeking his second major tournament victory.
Kaymer, who teed off in the final group today with American Rickie Fowler and a five-shot lead, has four birdies and three bogeys through 16 holes today. He pushed his advantage to eight with consecutive birdies at holes 13 and 14 at Pinehurst Resort’s No. 2 course in North Carolina before making a bogey at the 16th hole.
Only three players are under par for the tournament, with Fowler at 2 under and Erik Compton another stroke back.
Keegan Bradley, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Henrik Stenson are tied at 1 over par.
No player in golf’s modern era (post-World War II) has lost the U.S. Open when holding a lead of at least five shots entering the final round. Kaymer, a 29-year-old German who won the 2010 PGA Championship, hasn’t led by fewer than four shots today.
Fowler, 25, had a double-bogey on the fourth hole, where he hit his second shot far right of the fairway and then sent his third shot from a sandy lie 20 yards over the green. He sank a putt from about 25 feet to avoid a triple bogey. Fowler also has three birdies and two bogeys today.
Kaymer had five bogeys in his third round yet still managed to comfortably hold onto the lead he has had since round one in Pinehurst, where dry, difficult course conditions the past two days have made low scores rare.
With no rain and temperatures reaching a high of 86 degrees (30 Celsius) yesterday, Fowler and Compton were the only players to finish the third round under par. Players have faced similar hot, sunny conditions today.
The U.S. Golf Association, which stages the event, adjusted course conditions today to allow players more opportunities to make birdies. Greens were watered overnight and this morning, softening the surfaces and making it easier for players to stop approach shots closer to the holes.
In addition, the tee area was moved up 74 yards on the par-4 third hole, which is playing 313 yards today, giving many players a chance to reach the green with their tee shots. Kaymer was one of 24 players to birdie the hole today. The par-4 13th hole is playing 314 yards, also offering a greater opportunity for a birdie or eagle.
Kaymer, who won the Players Championship last month, 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’s seeking to become the seventh player to lead the U.S. Open after all four days, having opened with back-to-back rounds of 5-under-par 65 that gave him the 36-hole scoring record.
Justin Rose, the 2013 U.S. Open champion, tied for 12th place at 3 over.
Five-time major winner Phil Mickelson shot 2 over par 72, dropping the six-time U.S. Open runner-up to 7 over for the tournament, tied for 28th.
“You’ve got to put it all together to win a major championship,” said Mickelson, who needs a U.S. Open win to complete the career Grand Slam of all four major titles. “In this day and age, somebody’s going to play well. You can’t get by with scraping it around, you have to have it all firing. I didn’t have it all firing this week, but there will be other chances.”
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