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Kaymer leads U.S. Open by 5
Pinehurst, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - It wasn't pretty, but Martin Kaymer did enough on Saturday to keep his big lead at the 114th U.S. Open Championship.
Kaymer birdied the 18th in round three for a 2-over 72. He ended 54 holes at 8-under-par 202. He will go for his second major championship win on Sunday.
"I didn't play as well as the first two days, but I kept it very well together. I felt like today that if you had 25 to 35 feet, you've done well," Kaymer stated. "The USGA put the pins in very, very tough positions."
Rickie Fowler and two-time heart transplant recipient Erik Compton both shot 3-under 67 on Saturday. The duo shares second place at 3-under-par 207.
They were the only two players to post rounds in red figures on Saturday. The two rounds in red figures in the third round was the lowest number since 2007 at Oakmont, when there were also two rounds under par.
Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson carded matching even-par 70s. They are tied for fourth at minus-2. Fowler, Stenson and Johnson are the only three players without an over-par round through three days.
Brandt Snedeker is the final player in red figures at 1-under-par 209. He managed a 2-over 72 in round three at Pinehurst No. 2. Matt Kuchar (71), Brooks Koepka (72) and Kevin Na (73) are tied for seventh at even-par 210.
Defending champion Justin Rose shot even-par 70 and shares 10th at 1-over 211.
Kaymer led by six at the start of the third round, and briefly pushed that margin to seven. However, he needed a closing birdie to take a 5-shot cushion into the final round.
The German missed the fairway off the second tee, and came up short of the putting surface. His birdie try from off the green came up well short, and he 2-putted from there for bogey. That was his first bogey in 31 holes, and only his second for the week.
After narrowly missing a birdie effort on the third, Kaymer drove into the trees on the fourth and was forced to take an unplayable lie penalty. He found the green with his fourth and saved bogey from about 15 feet out.
Kaymer's lead was down to five over Brendon de Jonge at that point. Kaymer again missed the fairway off the fifth tee, but hit a stellar shot from the native area to within eight feet of the hole.
The 2010 PGA Champion drained that putt for eagle to move back to 10-under par, where he was seven clear of Compton, Snedeker and Na.
Kaymer and playing partner Brendon Todd had similar putts on the sixth. After Todd came up well short with his birdie effort, Kaymer blasted his putt by the hole and off the green. He putted back to a foot and kicked that in for bogey. He still led by seven at the point.
As several players climbed within five of Kaymer's lead, he parred six straight holes from the seventh. Compton, de Jonge, and Na each got within five, and when Kaymer 3-putted from the back edge of the 13th green for bogey, Na was within four.
Na fell down the leaderboard with double-bogeys at 14 and 16, so when Kaymer bogeyed the 15th, he was still four clear of Fowler, Compton and Johnson. Fowler and Compton were finished their rounds at that point.
Kaymer missed the 16th green, but putted his third to two feet and kicked that in for par. He did the same at 17 before dropping his approach within nine feet at the last. Kaymer drained his birdie effort to push his lead back to five after 54 holes.
"I made a couple bad swings on the first nine and put myself in bad positions. But I only made bogey, which is okay. Only one birdie and one eagle. Eight- under after three rounds is a good score," said Kaymer, the reigning Players Championship winner.
Fowler started to make his move up the leaderboard with birdies on the third and fifth. After three pars in a row, Fowler wrapped bogeys at nine and 11 around a birdie on the 10th.
The 2012 Wells Fargo champion moved back to minus-2 with a birdie on the 13th. Fowler birdied the par-3 17th and parred the last to end at 3-under.
"First of all, I'm happy to be under par. It was a grind out there today. I didn't hit it as well as I would like to. I drove it a little bit poorly and definitely need some work on that tomorrow with (coach Butch Harmon) before we go out," Fowler admitted. "But I hit a lot of great shots into the greens and I got the ball up-and-down when I needed to."
Compton struggled to bogeys on the third and sixth, but in between he made eagle on the par-5 fifth. He dropped in back-to-back birdies from the seventh to get to 2-under.
Around the turn, Compton birdied the 11th and 12th to move to minus-4, where he was within five of the lead. He faltered to a bogey on the 12th. After making a 7-foot birdie try on the 15th, Compton gave that shot right back when he bogeyed the 16th. He parred the last two to share second at minus-3.
"It's a very difficult golf course. I thought the weather was a little bit cooler today. Yesterday it was extremely hot and for me it can be difficult when it gets hot. But I felt really comfortable out there and I picked good targets and made aggressive swings," Compton said. "I pulled off a lot of great shots on the front nine. I'm just really happy to be here. When I was walking down 18, it's like you try to keep your self focused, but you're emotional and you're in the competition and, look, it's just really great to be here and I'm looking forward to tomorrow."
NOTES: Kaymer has won six of the 10 times he was the 54-hole leader in his PGA Tour and European Tour career. He has won three in a row and four of the last five overall ... One thing going against Kaymer entering the final round is that only two of the last nine 54-hole leaders (Tiger Woods in 2008 and Rory McIlroy in 2011) have held on to win the title ... Also going against Kaymer is that no player has won the U.S. Open and the Players Championship in the same season ... The largest final-round comeback to win the U.S. Open was seven strokes by Arnold Palmer at the 1960 Open at Cherry Hills ... After 15 under-par rounds on Thursday and 21 on Friday, there were just two on Saturday.
06/14 20:58:08 ET
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