Although Pinehurst No. 2 will continue to test players' all-around game and patience this weekend at the 2014 U.S. Open, favorable weather conditions over Saturday and Sunday's final two rounds will set the stage for another thrilling conclusion.
Germany's Martin Kaymer is running away from the field after following up a brilliant opening-round performance with a sensational second-round effort on Friday.
But with plenty of golf left to be played and the bullseye on his back growing, expect Day 3 to feature slightly more drama.
Below you'll find the updated forecast for Saturday's third round at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club.
What to Expect on Saturday
According to Weather.com, Saturday's forecast calls for partly cloudy skies throughout the day with temperatures in the mid 80s.
Players will certainly be feeling the heat as winds are expected to die down to three or four mph after noon ET. The breezes will be coming out of the north for the most part.
Rain shouldn't be an issue on Day 3, though, as there's only a 20 percent chance of precipitation throughout the day.
Therefore, the heat and humidity will be the players' biggest challenge on Saturday.
According to Weather.com's Golf Index, which rates course conditions on a scale of 0-10 (0 meaning "poor" and 10 meaning "excellent"), Saturday's weather at Pinehurst will be an eight or "very good."
What to Watch For
Although the weather is often the star at the U.S. Open, on Saturday, 36-hole leader Martin Kaymer will look to remain in the spotlight and continue his spectacular performance, as noted by ESPN on Twitter:
The 29-year-old German broke through for his first major championship four years ago and is in prime position to add another title to his name after shooting back-to-back five-under 65s on Thursday and Friday.
Despite carrying a six-stroke lead into Saturday's third round, Kaymer is well-aware of the fact he's only half way home, per The Guardian's Ewan Murray:
I don’t need to set any goals. I just wait for what Saturday afternoon will do. If you set goals then you’re adding a little pressure again because you try to reach them instead of going out there and being equal, being neutral, just playing. So I’m not really into goals for the next two days. I just want to play.
Although he won't want to admit it, this tournament is clearly Kaymer's to lose at this stage. Not only is he an eye-popping 10 shots under par, but he's one of only 13 players who enter Day 3 under par for the tournament.
As ESPN's Trey Wingo notes, history is on Kaymer's side:
Favorites like Henrik Stenson, Rory McIlroy and Adam Scott are all visible on the leaderboard, but they'll each need Kaymer to struggle in order to get within striking distance.
And while the pressure on Kaymer will only intensify over the weekend, he's appeared unflappable through the first two days, recording 11 birdies to just one bogey. The fact he's won on the major stage before also bodes well for his chances this weekend.
In addition to Kaymer, McIlroy and Scott will be players to watch closely on Saturday. McIlroy won this tournament going away at Congressional Country Club in 2011 and showed improvement on Friday, shooting a two-under 68.
Meanwhile, Scott is a past major winner himself and rallied to shoot a three-under 67 on Friday, bringing him to even par for the tournament.
But it's also possible that someone flying under the radar will emerge on Saturday. One strong round could change the look and feel of the leaderboard and lead Kaymer to sweat a little bit more heading into Sunday's final round.
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