Although the 2014 U.S. Open seems like a runaway, anything can happen on the final day at Pinehurst No. 2.
Martin Kaymer has been simply outstanding, building up a five-stroke lead with his overall score of eight-under. While he slowed down a bit from his consecutive rounds of 65 on the first two days, he is still in control of this event.
However, there are a number of experienced and talented golfers sitting a few strokes back and would love to challenge for the lead on the final day. If Kaymer slips a bit, expect the next group of challengers to be right there attempting to bring home a major championship.
There is certain to be plenty of action in Round 4 of the U.S. Open, so take a look at this updated leaderboard and the top storylines to follow throughout the day.
Can Martin Kaymer Avoid Collapse?
There is no other way to put it; if Kaymer loses, it would be an epic collapse on the final day.
The German star built up a strong enough lead in his first 36 holes that he had the ability to cruise over the weekend. He came back to earth a bit on Saturday, but there is still no reason that he should lose with this big of a lead.
However, this is an extremely difficult course that can cause even great players to have poor rounds. A few missed shots leads to bogeys which are very tough to make up at Pinehurst. He saw this happen with his 72 in Round 3.
Nathan Zegura of CBS Sports notes how big his final birdie was on Saturday, though:
Strong finish by Kaymer in the US Open. Always good to birdie the last and now he has a 5 shot lead. I'll be rooting for golf boy fowler!— Nathan Zegura (@NathanZegura) June 14, 2014
Additionally, Kaymer's win at The Players Championship earlier in the season should give him the confidence necessary to close out a big tournament like this. He knows how to beat this course and he simply needs to remain conservative to avoid any terrible holes.
If he can do this, he should be able to leave with the second major title of his career.
Top Players Looking for Their First Major
No matter how well you play in golf, there is a big difference between those who have won a major and those who have fallen short. Webb Simpson has etched his name in the record books with his U.S. Open victory, while players like Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia remain winless in these big events.
While Kaymer already got his major victory at the 2010 PGA Championship, the rest of the leaderboard features a number of big-name players looking to get a win this weekend.
The one with the best chance at this point seems to be Rickie Fowler, who posted an impressive 67 on Saturday to get to three-under for the tournament. Jason Sobel of Golf Channel notes that this performance can change some opinions about the young player:
Rickie Fowler shoots 67 on a day when no one else has broken 70 yet. But yeah, sure, he's just a flashy punk with crazy clothes. Whatever.— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelGC) June 14, 2014
Just behind him is Henrik Stenson, who finished the 2013 season as well as anyone in the world. He won the Tour Championship but finished in second place at the British Open and third at the PGA Championship, leaving him just short of a major. This will be a good chance to make up for that.
Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker and Matt Kuchar have all had solid showings at major championships as well but have never finished in first place. It will be a challenge for any of them to catch Kaymer, but they will all be hungry for a win.
How High Can Erik Compton Climb?
No matter what players you support in golf, it is hard not to root for Erik Compton. Kelly Tilghman of Golf Channel provides insight into what makes this story so special:
I'm pressed to think of a better story in sports than 2x heart transplant recipient Erik Compton winning golf's hardest championship.— Kelly Tilghman (@KellyTilghmanGC) June 14, 2014
According to Beth Ann Nichols of Golf Week, Compton only qualified for this tournament after winning his sectional in a five-person playoff. After posting one of the lowest scores of the day, he is legitimately in contention to win it all.
When asked about his ability to succeed in a pressure-filled environment, he provided a sobering response:
Erik Compton: "I've been through a few situations in life that are much more high-pressure than hitting a tee shot." pic.twitter.com/XXbelQE250— PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR) June 14, 2014
It is hard to imagine Compton sticking around this leaderboard with so many more high-profile golfers, but in reality he was a long shot to get to this point. Having one more good day is not out of the question.
No matter what he does on Sunday, it is clear that he will have plenty of fans watching and rooting him on to finish as high on the leaderboard as possible.
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