Martin Kaymer remains on course for a wire-to-wire victory at the US Open - but Pinehurst No.2 is not going to make it easy for the German.
After back-to-back 65s left him at 10 under and six shots clear, Kaymer found the course a tougher proposition during a third round that saw all the field battle to cope with the slick, quick greens on what was supposed to be moving day. In truth, much of the moving was happening in the wrong direction.
Still, a two-over 72 means the 2010 USPGA champion is five ahead going into the final round, his cushion extended thanks to a superb birdie at the final green that left him at eight under par through 54 holes.
Americans Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton are the nearest challengers after both signed for 67s, while compatriot Dustin Johnson and Henrik Stenson of Sweden are a further shot adrift.
We review the best of Sky Sports’ post-round coverage with some of the leading protagonists giving their slant on proceedings in North Carolina.
Putt to the point
Pinehurst No.2 was said to be a course that would favour the long hitters, and there are few golfers around these days that hit it further than Johnson. However it was his short game, and more specifically his putting, that pleased the American the most after his third round score of 70. Johnson mixed two birdies with a pair of bogeys in his level-par effort, though he felt it could have been even better. “I got a couple of putts to go, and just about every putt I hit looked like it was going in,” he said when questioned about his work on the greens at the SkyPad. At six shots back the 29-year-old knows his tilt for glory isn’t over yet – he himself led by three going into the final round of the 2010 US Open, only to end up carding an 82.
On a day when scoring was tough, Justin Rose showed just why he became a major champion at the tournament last year with an even-par 70. But, the Englishman felt it should have been even better – and more importantly it needed to be, if he was to have any hope of retaining his grip on the trophy and becoming the first back-to-back winner of the US Open since Curtis Strange achieved the feat in 1988-89. “All by bogeys and double bogeys are cheap giveaways – I never really put myself in trouble,” Rose said. At one over, he will need to shoot something special on Sunday and hope several currently above him on the leaderboard suffer a dramatic collapse.
Course the winner
While Colin Montgomerie believes the birdie at the last has given Kaymer an advantage he will not let slip on Sunday, Butch Harmon felt there was only one winner after round three - the course. “It was so difficult. It played just like it did in the practice round – hard and fast”. He expects more of the same in the final round, too. Monty, meanwhile, felt the current leader showed tremendous mental strength to recover from two early setbacks, saying: “Kaymer bogeys the second, bogeys the fourth and we’re thinking ‘hang on, something has gone wrong here’. But he plays the next 14 holes in level par which was extremely good, especially the birdie at 18.”
Shots of the day
While scoring may have been tricky, that doesn't mean there weren't some moments of magic during Saturday's play. Kenny Perry is featured in our highlights package not once but twice, including a stunner at the 14th that saw him hole out with his second shot from distance after a wayward drive had left him stuck in the rough. Matt Kuchar finds the cup from a greenside bunker while Compton proved it was capable to have success on the greens when he rolled in a "monster" putt at the 11th green. Take a look at our selection and pick out your best!