US Open 2014 Results: Biggest Winners and Losers from Day 3
It's Martin Kaymer's course, the rest of the golfers are just lucky to be in the field.
Of course, there are 18 long holes left to be played at the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2, and no championship has been won just yet. However, Kaymer's shaky but gutsy two-over-par round on Saturday left him at eight under for the tournament, five clear strokes ahead of his closest competitor.
There are only five other players under par for the championship, and all of them will be ready to pounce if the German falters. Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton both shot a 67 on Saturday, leaving them at three under and tied for second place. Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson are both hanging in at two under and Brandt Snedeker is alone at one under par.
Whatever happens, it's looking likely that there will be a first-time U.S. Open champion taking the crown from Justin Rose on Sunday.
Here are all of the winners and losers from moving day.
Winner: Rickie Fowler
Rickie Fowler started his U.S. Open quest on Thursday dressed up like Payne Stewart, a great tribute to his idol who was a winner at Pinehurst in 1999, a few months before tragically dying in a plane crash.
Now, fittingly, the 25-year-old who is known more for his colorful clothing than his accurate putts, will be in the final group on Sunday with Martin Kaymer.
Fowler shot five birdies and two bogeys on Saturday, to take a 67 into the clubhouse, which was tied with Erik Compton for the best round of the day. He's five shots behind Kaymer, which means he's within shouting distance of his first major title.
The California native finished tied for fifth at the Masters earlier this year and is playing some of the best golf in his career. Now the fan favorite has a chance to provide the ultimate tribute to his idol on Sunday by joining him as a U.S. Open champion. He's a long way from making that happen, but a great Saturday made it a possibility.
Loser: Toru Taniguchi's 88
I'm not sure that even mama knew there would be days quite this bad.
Tori Taniguchi just made the cut for the weekend, shooting a 72 on Thursday and a 73 on Friday. Neither of those rounds indicated that this Saturday was on the horizon.
The Japanese golfer shot seven bogeys—four doubles and one triple—on the way to an 18-over-par round of 88, putting him at 23 over for the championship. In case you're wondering, yes, that does put him in last place.
But luckily for the 46-year-old, his round was not a historically bad one. Shane Bacon from Yahoo Sports put things into perspective:
The good news for Taniguchi is his 88 isn't even close to the worst third round score at the U.S. Open. That belongs to someone named O. McCammon, who shot a 110 in the third round all the way back in 1898.
Interestingly enough, McCammon also holds the highest fourth round score ever at the U.S. Open with a final round 116 in 1899. I'm not sure he would have made it in today's PGA Tour.
Winner: Lefty's Sense of Humor
Phil Mickelson needed nothing short of a miracle this weekend to finally win his first U.S. Open title after a record-setting six second-place finishes. Saturday was certainly not what he was looking for.
The five-time major champion hit three bogeys and only one birdie for a third-round score of 72. It wasn't an awful round by any means, but it did move him the wrong way on the leaderboard on moving day.
Lefty is currently at five over par and tied for 30th, but he's choosing to see the glass as half full heading into Sunday. He probably can't complete his career Grand Slam this weekend, but he might be able to add to his runner-up record.
"If I hit it better and make some putts, I think I can shoot four or five under par... finish second again," he said, via the PGA Tour Twitter account.
Loser: The Rookie and the Amateur
Beginner's luck is certainly a thing, but on Saturday Pinehurst No. 2 made that notion seem like a joke.
In his very first appearance at a major, 28-year-old Brendon Todd had a great start on Thursday and Friday, leaving him in the final group with Kaymer on Saturday. Unfortunately, Todd didn't handle the pressure well.
The North Carolinian shot one double bogey, eight bogeys and only one birdie to finish nine over par on the day. Safe to say that he'll start much earlier in the day on Sunday than he did on Saturday.
Also struggling on Saturday was Matthew Fitzpatrick, the only amateur who made the cut. The 19-year-old Brit will turn pro after this tournament and was trying to keep perspective after a solid first two days, as reported by Ryan Lavner of GolfChannel.com.
When asked whether he felt like his early performance here validated his decision to join the pro ranks, he said, 'I think I’ve still got a bit to go. I think everyone can say that, I guess, whether they’re trying to win a major, keep their card or win their first event. But for me, at the minute, it’s just trying to keep on making cuts and taking it from there, really.'
On the third day, Fitzpatrick shot six bogeys, two doubles and two birdies on the way to a 78.
Winner: The Oldest Man in the Field
At 53 years old, Kenny Perry was the oldest golfer in this U.S. Open field. He was given entry into Pinehurst after winning the U.S. Senior Open last year.
Well, Perry showed up men half his age by shooting a 69 on Friday and making the cut at two over par. But Saturday was a different story. Perry shot three bogeys and two doubles in his first 10 holes and was quickly approaching the ranks of the embarrassed at Pinehurst No. 2.
But in never-never land on the 14th hole, Perry hit one of the best shots of his career, holing the ball in from over 200 yards away. Perry followed up his eagle with a birdie on No. 16, leaving him in the top 50 at a respectable seven over par. That's not bad for a guy who hasn't played in a non-senior major since 2010.
Loser: Kevin Na's Back Nine
Na, who was off of the tour for six months last year with a bulging disc in his back, was in second place all by himself as the leaders were heading down the back nine. It even looked like he might be in position to put actual pressure on Kaymer, after Kaymer three-putted the 13th for a bogey.
Instead, he imploded on the 14th, shooting a double bogey which pushed him six shots behind Kaymer. He said that he was excited about this U.S. Open because of his great short game, but as you can see from this Vine, he might have underestimated the difficulty of Pinehurst No. 2.
Na had another double bogey on the 16th and ended up at thee over on the day, even par for the tournament. It was a disappointing end to a day that was shaping up to be a breakthrough one for the 30-year-old.
Winner: Erik Compton's Miraculous Weekend
There are Hollywood tales, and then there's Erik Compton's story, which would be bordering on absurdity if he was able to win the U.S. Open on Sunday.
Compton is currently No. 187 in the world and the 34-year-old had to qualify just to make it into the field at the U.S. Open. Now after three days of play at Pinehurst No. 2—only the second major of his career—Compton is at three under par and tied for second place heading into Sunday. He shot a 67 Saturday, which was tied with Fowler as the best round of the day.
The Norwegian-American has had two heart transplants, one in 1992 and one in 2008. In 2012, Compton lost his PGA Tour card once again and had to return to qualifying school to retain it. He is on the rise, though, and is now in contention for a major.
"I'm just really happy to be here," he said on NBC after his round.
Loser: The Favorite
It's safe to say that the 2011 U.S. Open feels like a lifetime ago for Rory McIlroy.
The two-time major champion was thought to have his mojo back after finishing in the top 10 at the Masters and The Players Championship and winning the BMW PGA Championship in Europe last month, but on Saturday he showed once again why he hasn't been a real contender at a major in a couple of years: He just isn't consistent enough.
McIlroy shot six bogeys—five of them on the front nine—and only two birdies to finish with a four-over-par round of 74. The pre-event favorite is now an afterthought heading into the final day.
Winner: Martin Kaymer's Bogey on the 4th Hole
Sometimes bogeys aren't that bad. Occasionally, they're absolutely phenomenal.
Kaymer had one of those elusive phenomenal bogeys on Saturday and was able to hold onto his momentum and keep his big lead in tact.
His tee-shot went astray on the fourth hole, leaving him in an unplayable burst of pine needles and woods. He had to drop his ball, losing a shot. Considering he already had made one bogey on the second hole, it looked like his six-stroke lead entering the day was about to evaporate with what seemed like a surefire double bogey.
Instead, the cool-as-ice German holed a long putt for a bogey and took that momentum onto the fifth, where another great save led to an eagle. Just like that, he was right back at 10 under where he started.
Kaymer shot three more bogeys and one birdie the rest of the way, ending up at eight under par heading into Sunday. Luckily for him, nobody else made much of a move, and he still has a five-stroke lead heading into the deciding day. Kaymer's ability to keep it together on the fourth hole was the key to his round.
That groan you hear? That might be from NBC or any other network who has broadcasting rights for this U.S. Open.
Sure, Kaymer's lead was shortened by one stroke on Saturday and having the exciting Fowler in the final pairing will be entertaining, but still, a five-stroke lead by an under-the-radar German is hardly a slate for must-see viewing on Father's Day.
Yes, Kaymer's excellence should be admired just as much as Woods' or McIlroy's were when they ran away with their U.S. Open titles. But unless he has a collapse on Sunday, or one of the other five players who are under par can shoot well below 70, the final 18 holes at Pinehurst No. 2 will not be the best showcase for golf.
Still, it's not over until it's over.