After a sensational start to the tournament, Martin Kaymer cooled off just slightly on Saturday afternoon at Pinehurst. The U.S. Open leader could afford one decent day, as he still leads the field by five strokes heading into Sunday.
While Kaymer was maintaining his lead with a third-round score of 72 on Saturday, Erik Compton was surging up the leaderboard. Compton's run was helped by an eagle on the fifth hole, nailing down a three-under to finish the day near the front of the pack.
Rickie Fowler also continued his strong tournament with a three-under 67 to jump his way into a tie with Compton for second place. Kaymer didn't flourish quite the way he did in the first two days, but his five-stroke lead over Fowler should be more than enough to cruise on Sunday.
Following another beautiful day of golf in North Carolina, here's a look at the pairings for Sunday and predictions for the final round.
|U.S. Open Round 4 Pairings|
|Rickie Fowler||Martin Kaymer||3:35 p.m.|
|Henrik Stenson||Erik Compton||3:24 p.m.|
|Brandt Snedeker||Dustin Johnson||3:13 p.m.|
|Brooks Koepka||Matt Kuchar||3:02 p.m.|
|Justin Rose||Kevin Na||2:51 p.m.|
|Chris Kirk||Jordan Spieth||2:40 p.m.|
|Victor Dubuisson||Brendon de Jonge||2:29 p.m.|
|Garth Mulroy||Francesco Molinari||2:18 p.m.|
|Jason Day||Jimmy Walker||2:07 p.m.|
|J.B. Holmes||Marcel Siem||1:56 p.m.|
|Rory McIlroy||Adam Scott||1:45 p.m.|
|Lucas Bjerregaard||Shiv Kapur||1:34 p.m.|
|Steve Stricker||Aaron Baddeley||1:23 p.m.|
|Ian Poulter||Hideki Matsuyama||1:12 p.m.|
|Ryan Moore||Keegan Bradley||1:01 p.m.|
|Bill Haas||Retief Goosen||12:50 p.m.|
|Brendon Todd||Phil Mickelson||12:39 p.m.|
|Cody Gribble||Sergio Garcia||12:28 p.m.|
|Billy Horschel||Ernie Els||12:17 p.m.|
|Patrick Reed||Webb Simpson||12:06 p.m.|
|Nicholas Lindheim||Jim Furyk||11:55 a.m.|
|Kenny Perry||Zach Johnson||11:44 a.m.|
|Zac Blair||Graeme McDowell||11:33 a.m.|
|Scott Langley||Stewart Cink||11:22 a.m.|
|Seung-yul Noh||Gary Woodland||11:11 a.m.|
|Bo Van Pelt||Paul Casey||11 a.m.|
|Danny Willett||Harris English||10:49 a.m.|
|Justin Leonard||Billy Hurley III||10:38 a.m.|
|Alex Cejka||Clayton Rask||10:27 a.m.|
|Fran Quinn||Daniel Berger||10:16 a.m.|
|Louis Oosthuizen||Matthew Fitzpatrick||10:05 a.m.|
|Boo Weekley||Kevin Stadler||9:54 a.m.|
|Russell Henley||Kevin Tway||9:43 a.m.|
|Toru Taniguchi||9:32 a.m.|
Martin Kaymer Wins His First U.S. Open
After a stellar season in 2010, Kaymer hasn't found quite as much success in major tournaments as of late. Thanks to a great start at Pinehurst No. 2, Kaymer will secure his second victory at a major championship in his career on Sunday.
Rickie Fowler, who shot a three-under 67 on Saturday, referenced the great play from Kaymer, per the PGA Tour's Twitter:
Though Kaymer didn't play a similarly amazing round on Saturday, his consistency through the first two days allows him to nearly coast to a win. Four bogeys through the first 13 holes were offset by an eagle on the fifth, but the field behind him was unable to close the lead to catch Kaymer.
While the lead still seemed insurmountable for the rest of the field, Stephen Schramm of The Fayetteville Observer notes the German has impressive competition behind him:
Kaymer's strong run through the first two days will be capped off with another consistent round on Sunday. Given his success at the famed No. 2, Kaymer will simply need to shoot for par or a one-under to secure the win.
Rickie Fowler Makes a Late Surge
Fowler's success on Saturday was a thing of beauty, giving him a shot to compete for the win on Sunday.
While the chances of catching Kaymer are slim considering the deficit, Fowler finishing inside the top 10 would be a huge moment in his career. The 25-year-old notched his first top-10 finish in the U.S. Open last season but has never wound up better than a tie for fifth in a major tournament.
It would also be a fitting end to a tournament where he paid tribute to Payne Stewart. Fowler spoke about the attire he wore during the opening round, per Christine Brennan of USA Today:
Payne was one of my all-time favorite players. I never had a chance of meeting him, but I obviously loved watching him play and loved how he handled himself on and off the golf course. And hearing from guys that have been out here for a while that knew Payne well, hearing from them how great a guy he was on the course and off, it's cool to be in the position I'm in to wear some attire like he used to wear, to give tribute to him.
Outfit aside, Fowler played a masterful round on Saturday. The 67 on Saturday will translate to yet another good round on Sunday, helping Fowler to his second top-five finish in a major.
Rory McIlroy Continues to Tumble
Rory McIlroy came into the season confident. The former world No. 1 was so sure of his ability to start the year that he spoke about wanting to win two majors this season.
That hasn't quite worked out for McIlroy through the first major and three rounds of the second.
Sitting in 16th with 11 shots to make up to take the lead, McIlroy is clearly out of the running to take his second U.S. Open. But as one of the top golfers in the world, a respectable finish would go a long way toward building confidence for the Open Championship.
With McIlroy well out of the running, he proved on Saturday that his struggles from last season have continued. After his 74 in the third round, expect a similar round to what happened earlier in the year at the Honda Classic.
McIlroy has a history of strong final rounds but an equal sampling of poor finishes. Though he could very well make a case for a top-10 finish on Sunday, it's just as likely that he will fall further out of contention in the second major of the year.
Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter.