‘Decent’ round keeps golfer ahead by five

Jun. 14, 2014 @ 09:48 PM

So it wasn’t another 65. Far from it.

Martin Kaymer retained the lead at the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 after the third round, but it wasn’t done in the smooth way he shot opening 65s to take a six-shot lead after the first two days. He shot a bogey-spotted 72 to fall to 8-under, good for a five-shot advantage headed into today’s final round.

“Well, it’s still a good round,” he said. “Two-over par is not as bad as it looks on the scorecard, I think. I think I kept it very well together, even though I didn’t hit as many great shots as yesterday and Thursday. But overall it’s a decent round.”

The trouble started on just the second hole, where Kaymer made just his second bogey of the tournament to fall to 9-under. That was followed by another bogey on the fourth hole.

He followed it with a spectacular three on the par-5 fifth. After his drive went in the native grass on the left side of the fairway, he stuck an iron to five feet, getting a nice roll on the green. He knocked the putt in for eagle.

But he followed that with a bogey on the sixth hole. He added bogeys on Nos. 13 and 15 before finally getting a birdie — something that had come much easier the last couple days — on 18, thanks to what he labeled the “easiest pin” of the day.

After the round, he labeled that second shot on the fifth hole the most important shot of the round because it was the luckiest.

“It was an OK shot, but it was not that great,” he said. “It just got lucky because the front of the slope killed the flight a little bit and it released to the hole. So there was more luck.”

Kaymer doesn’t think the momentum will carry over from such a big birdie, one that elicited a fist pump from the leader.

“It will take another 15 hours before I can tee it up, so I don’t know if there’s much momentum,” he said.

Holding the 54-hole lead at a major championship brings about a lot of pressure. A five-shot lead can evaporate in a matter of holes, something Kaymer said he’s aware of.

“If you have four shots, five shots, six shots (of a lead), if you play a golf course like this, it can be gone very quickly,” he said. “You could see it today. I’m looking forward to seeing how I feel, how I react to certain situations. Anything can happen. I can lead by seven or eight shots after nine holes. I can be down to all square.”

He said he doesn’t want to play safe but wants to be on the offensive.

“The challenge will be tomorrow, to keep going and not try to defend anything,” he said. “Because, if you try to defend, then you’re not free enough. You don’t swing as free. And that will be the challenge.”