The world's best golfers will need to come up big on Saturday to keep the 2014 U.S. Open close throughout the weekend.
Martin Kaymer is threatening to run away with his second major championship after compiling a 10-under through the first two days. Already firmly in the driver's seat, a strong Saturday would allow him to cruise through the final day before collecting his first U.S. Open title.
Before skipping the final two days and handing him the trophy now, let's keep our options open entering Round 3 of the U.S. Open. Perhaps Saturday will mark someone else's chance to shine with a magnificent effort that sets up a comeback for the ages.
Day 3 Outlook
Kaymer enjoyed two record-breaking days of golf at Pinehurst No. 2, but he can't let his guard down on Saturday.
After scoring another 65 on Friday, Kaymer earned an all-time low U.S. Open score through 36 holes, per ESPN Stats & Info:
Martin Kaymer set the all-time U.S. Open record for lowest 36-hole score (130). He's 10-under through 36.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 13, 2014
Ha has already nailed down 11 birdies to build a six-stroke advantage at the top of the leaderboard. According to the Golf Channel's Rex Hoggard, nobody has ever surrendered such a large lead at the U.S. Open:
Three players have led by 5+ shots after 36 @ US Open: Willie Anderson 1903, Tiger 2000 & McIlroy 2011. All 3 went on to win. #Kaymer— Rex Hoggard (@RexHoggardGC) June 13, 2014
While Kaymer has grown a sizable edge, it's not impenetrable with two days remaining. Brendon Todd is on his trail at four-under after two days, while Kevin Na sits at three-under.
Kaymer is wisely not celebrating just yet. As he told the Associated Press (via USA Today), after his impressive Round 2 performance on Friday, he hasn't locked down the major just yet.
"It's not a done deal," Kaymer said "You don't approach Saturday and Sunday in a relaxed way. There's never a time where you can relax. Unless it's Sunday afternoon and you're raising the trophy, then you can relax. Until then, you've got to keep playing."
The runner-up heading into Saturday, Todd posted a clean scorecard with three birdies and no bogeys during the second round, inching the 28-year-old up the leaderboard a month after capturing his first PGA Tour title.
PGA up-and-coming star Jordan Spieth offered two birdies on the back nine to put himself in the fold, but two consecutive bogeys on the 16th and 17th holes put him right back to one-under for the tournament.
The 20-year-old officially arrived with a second-place finish at the 2014 Masters, a result he can still replicate with a nice weekend at Pinehurst.
Phil Mickelson, however, is not as big of a threat after stumbling through the second round with four bogeys. Entering the weekend above par, he'd need to excel at an historic level to capture his first U.S. Open trophy.
It will take a slip-up from Kaymer, which is more than reasonable at Pinehurst, to make this an open competition.
Should he not add to his score on Saturday, it at least gives his competitors a chance to lessen the distance and make Sunday interesting.
Considering Kaymer only needs to play OK enough not to lose at this stage of the game, he's a safe bet to maintain his spot in first. Yet stranger things have happened on the green, so don't stop watching just yet.