If the players currently on the course give the rest of the field any indication of how Pinehurst No. 2 is playing, then there is hope for the players chasing Martin Kaymer.
After his round yesterday, Phil Mickelson said, “But I don’t think anybody has shot par yet. Usually somebody goes out early and shoots a low score. It’s not happening yet.” The third round set up was extremely difficult with only two players breaking par, and the USGA seems to be backing down from another brutal test on Sunday.
Toru Taniguchi shot an 88 in the third round, and today he is +5 through 14. Russell Henley shot 82, and he is even through 13. Louis Oosthuizen and Daniel Berger both have under par rounds going on the back nine. The course is still tough, but the players on top of the leaderboard will have a chance to shoot a round in the mid 60s to try and track down Martin Kaymer.
Kaymer begins the final round with a five stroke lead, and if he goes under-par, then no one has a chance. However, an over-par round by Kaymer could make things interesting for Fowler, Compton, Stenson, and Johnson.
It’s Sunday at the U.S. Open, so let the drama unfold.
Notes about the 2014 U.S. Open, courtesy of the USGA:
Martin Kaymer Notes
Kaymer’s 54-hole total of 202 is the third-lowest score for the first three rounds in U.S. Open history. Only Rory McIlroy (199 at Congressional in 2011) and Jim Furyk (200 at Olympia Fields in 2003) had lower 54-hole totals.
Kaymer is attempting to become the first German to win the U.S. Open. He won the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits to become the first German to win a major since Bernhard Langer in the 1993 Masters.
Kaymer is attempting to become the eighth player in U.S. Open history to win start-to-finish without ties. The others are Walter Hagen (1914), James Barnes (1921), Ben Hogan (1953), Tony Jacklin (1970), Tiger Woods (2000, 2002) and Rory McIlroy (2011).
He has won on five out of six occasions when he has held the 54-hole lead in PGA Tour and European Tour tournaments, including the 2014 Players Championship.
If Kaymer wins, he will be just the third 54-hole leader to win the U.S. Open in the last 10 years. Rory McIlroy (2011) and Tiger Woods (2008) are the others.
Kaymer leads the field in par breakers (13) with 12 birdies and one eagle.
He is in the top 10 in all four major statistical categories: Fairways Hit (T-4), Driving Distance (9th), Greens in Regulation (T-9) and Total Putts (T-7).
The last 54-hole leader to relinquish a five-stroke lead in the U.S. Open is Mike Brady in 1919 at Brae Burn Country Club in West Newton, Mass.
No players had bogey-free rounds on Saturday.
There were only two scores under par in the third round (Rick Fowler and Erik Compton, both with 67). This is the lowest number of sub-par rounds since the fourth round of the 2007 U.S. Open at Oakmont.
Compton is attempting to become the first sectional qualifier to win the U.S. Open since Lucas Glover in 2009.
Compton is one of five University of Georgia graduates to make the cut in the 2014 U.S. Open. Russell Henley, Chris Kirk, Harris English and Brendon Todd are the others.
Fowler (70-70-67), Dustin Johnson (69-69-70) and Henrik Stenson (69-69-70) are the only players in the field to have three rounds of par or better.
If he completes 72 holes, Matthew Fitzpatrick will become the first player to hold the title of low amateur at the U.S. Open and British Open at the same time since Bob Jones in 1930.
Pinehurst U.S. Open Comparisons
Players under par through 54 holes – 1999: 1; 2005: 1; 2014: 6
Fairways Hit through 54 holes – 1999: 66 percent; 2005: 52 percent; 2014: 71 percent
Greens in Regulation through 54 holes – 1999: 47 percent; 2005: 50 percent; 2014: 56 percent
Birdies and Eagles through 54 holes – 1999: 636; 2005: 723; 2014: 812
Scoring Average through 54 holes – 1999: 74.47; 2005: 74.10; 2014: 73.20
2014 U.S. Open leaderboard.