PINEHURST: World number one Adam Scott and Rory McIlroy launched their chase of record-setting US Open leader Martin Kaymer yesterday at Pinehurst as third-round scores soared in the afternoon heat.
Germany’s Kaymer finished six strokes clear of the field after 36 holes, firing back-to-back 65s for a US Open record start 10-under par 130.
“A six-shot lead is a big lead,” Kaymer said yesterday. “The challenge is just to keep going because it’s only half-time right now.”
Still, Kaymer’s effort had rivals comparing him to Tiger Woods, the injured 14-time major champion who began a run of four major wins in a row with a 15-shot romp at the 2000 US Open.
“Tiger Woods 2000 is here. He just looks like Martin Kaymer this week,” said US PGA veteran Bo Van Pelt.
Scott began his round 10 strokes off Kaymer’s record pace while the Aussie’s playing partner, US 20-year-old Masters runner-up Jordan Spieth, and McIlroy, the two-time major champion from Northern Ireland, were each nine adrift.
“If I can put together a couple of good rounds, I might be able to creep up on him,” Scott said.
“The US Open is a difficult test and there are still a lot of holes to play.”
Japan’s Toru Taniguchi, who fired a 72 and a 73 to start, shot an 88 while US Amateur winner Matthew Fitzpatrick of England took a 78, both signs of how wrong things could go.
“The golf course is going to be a lot more difficult,” Kaymer said. “I got a bit lucky. I’m not really excpecting to shoot another 5-under par. I will just take it as it comes.” Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner is the only major winner any closer and he starts eight strokes off the lead, saying it is too soon to start watching Kaymer.
“It’s way too early,” Bradley said. “Even par will go a long way today. A couple under could go a really long way. It’s like shooting 63 or 64 at a regular event.”
Scott and Bradley said a solid round Saturday could produce a rise on the leaderboard as others stumble in the difficult conditions on unforgiving turtle-backed greens with sand and weeds awaiting off-target shots.
“There’s a double (bogey) on every hole if you’re not careful so stick to the game plan,” Bradley said.
Kaymer, a 29-year-old from Dusseldorf, seeks his second major title after taking the 2010 PGA Championship. He is coming off a Players Championship victory last month that snapped a three-year win drought on top-level tours.
American Brendon Todd, making his US Open debut, was second on 136 and in the final third-round pairing with Kaymer. Americans Kevin Na and Brandt Snedeker were another stroke adrift. Kaymer has been called “The German-ator”, playing off Arnold Schwartznegger’s “Terminator” movie character, for his unwavering precision and composure under pressure.
In seven events with a 36-hole lead, Kaymer has four wins and two runner-up efforts.
“He’s as dialed in as I’ve seen,” Bradley said. “He’s just very steady. He doesn’t seem to get too up and down. That’s a pretty good combination for the US Open.”
McIlroy, who won the 2011 US Open and 2012 PGA Championship, likes what he sees in Kaymer as well.
“He’s an incredibly hard worker,” said McIlroy. “I see him all the time on the range. I see him all the time in the gym. So he’s put the work in there.”AFP