Germany's Kaymer tees off in US Open title quest
Martin Kaymer of Germany celebrates an eagle on the fifth green during the third round of the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort & Country Club, Course No. 2 on June 14, 2014 in Pinehurst, North Carolina - by David Cannon
Kaymer, who won his first major at the 2010 PGA Championship, followed his US Open record-low start of back-to-back 65s with a two-over par 72 Saturday to stay in command on eight-under 202 after 54 holes.
The 29-year-old from Dusseldorf could become the first man from continental Europe to win the US Open crown and the fourth European winner in five seasons.
"My biggest challenge is to keep going," Langer said Sunday. "It's quite easy to try and defend that lead. That would be the wrong approach. On that course you can't really think ahead or you will get away from your own game."
Former world number one Kaymer could match the major win total Germany's only other major champion, 1985 and 1993 Masters champion Bernhard Langer.
Kaymer could also become just the seventh man to lead the US Open after every round, joining a select champions' list that includes Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Walter Hagen, Ben Hogan, Tony Jacklin and James Barnes.
"Sleeping is very difficult," Kaymer said. "It's difficult leading from the first day on. There's so much going on."
Kaymer was facing a course with more receptive greens and easier pin placements as scores dropped from Saturday.
Zach Johnson, the 2007 Masters winner, aced the 172-yard par-3 ninth hole and fifth-group starter Daniel Berger fired a 66, the lowest round by anyone other than Kaymer, showing such rounds were available.
Not since Mike Brady squandered a five-shot edge in 1919 has a US Open 54-hole leader enjoyed such a margin as Kaymer and failed to win the title.
The victory would culminate a comeback for Kaymer, who struggled after his major triumph and went almost three years without a PGA win until taking last month's Players Championship.
Only Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Hal Sutton have won the Players and a major in the same year. No player has won the Players and a US Open in the same year.
But hoping to spoil Kaymer's bid were a handful of sub-par rivals seeking a first major title, including sentimental favorite Erik Compton, who has undergone two heart transplants and is playing in only his second major.
The 34-year-old American, who missed the cut at the 2000 US Open, received his first transplant at age 12 in 1992. After a heart attack, Compton received another heart in 2008.
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Compton has never won a PGA event, only playing sporadically until qualifying for a full-time spot in 2012. But he was fifth this year at Bay Hill and New Orleans and was told by 18-time major winner Nicklaus that he would do well this week at Pinehurst.
"Whatever happens, it's just great to be here," Compton said.
Compton and US standout Rickie Fowler, who finished fifth at the Masters in April, were on 207 after shooting 67s Saturday, the only sub-par efforts in the third round.
Fowler wore knickerbockers Thursday in a tribute to the late Payne Stewart, who won the 1999 US Open at Pinehurst but was killed in a plane crash four months later.
Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who could become world number one with a victory, and American Dustin Johnson, shared fourth on 208 with American Brandt Snedeker another stroke adrift.
Second-ranked Stenson, last year's US PGA playoff and European Tour Race to Dubai season points champion, would need to win and have top-ranked Adam Scott finish outside the top four to become world number one.
A victory by Snedeker would match the greatest last-day comeback in US Open history, the epic seven-shot rally by Arnold Palmer in 1960 to win at Cherry Hills.