PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — A tough Pinehurst No. 2 tried to make a game out of this U.S. Open. Martin Kaymer always had an answer.
Already with one bogey on his card, Kaymer’s tee shot on No. 4 was so deep into the trees that his golf ball settled in sandy patch that had been washed out by rain, stacked up against 6 inches of pine straw. With nowhere to go and no relief available, he turned to USGA President Tom O’Toole and said, “If you have a way to play it, I’ll follow you.”
Kaymer navigated his way out of trouble just fine.
He escaped with a bogey by getting up-and-down from 165 yards. He followed with an eagle with a 7-iron from 202 yards out of more sand and weeds. And a birdie on the final hole gave him a 2-over 72 and a five-shot lead in a U.S. Open that finally lived up to its reputation Saturday.
“I kept it very well together,” said Kaymer, who was at 8-under 202.
Now he has to do it one more time, with a different cast of challengers behind him.
Rickie Fowler, with teen idol status in American golf, birdied the par-3 17th hole and shot 67 to get into the final group of a major for the first time.
Even more unlikely was the other player at 3-under 207 — Erik Compton, the two-time heart transplant recipient who considers it a victory just to be playing golf. Compton ran off five birdies and an eagle for a 67
“If I were to win the tournament, it would be obviously something that would be extremely special, not only for me, but for my family and for those who have been around me, and I think also for the community and those who have been through some tough times,” Compton said. “I might just sail off and never play golf again.”