Some of the biggest storylines prior to the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 failed to materialize.
Phil Mickelson, seeking his first U.S. Open win, is well down the leaderboard at five over par (tied for 30th). World No. 1 Adam Scott is three over par for the tournament and stuck at T-16 along with one of the pre-tournament favorites, Rory McIlroy.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment belongs to two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson, who failed to make the cut and caught an early flight out of town.
There have been some other top storylines throughout the U.S. open, though, with Martin Kaymer, Erik Compton and Rickie Fowler's storylines getting a lot of attention.
After three rounds of the U.S. Open at Pinehurst, Martin Kaymer continues to lead, but if he stumbles on Sunday, there are two very talented golfers ready to catch him.
Kaymer has held the lead through each of the first three rounds. He set a new 36-hole U.S. Open scoring record of 130, with consecutive five-under 65s on Thursday and Friday, and he began the third round with an eight-shot advantage.
Although he struggled to a two-over par 72 on Saturday, he still maintains a five-stroke lead heading into the final round on Sunday, and the tournament is his to lose.
Kaymer won the 2010 PGA Championship and rose to world No. 1 in early 2011, but he has struggled with his golf swing for the past couple of years. His recent win at The Players Championship signaled a return to world-class form and a harbinger of his good play this week.
Erik Compton—along with Rickie Fowler—carded a pair of third-round three-under par 67s to tie for second place.
Compton is on his third heart, having been a double-heart transplant recipient. For him to have made it to the tournament via a 36-hole qualifier at Columbus, Ohio, is an accomplishment in and of itself.
Compton was diagnosed with a heart disease when he was just 12 years old and had his first heart transplant in 1992. Even with the obstacles of living with a second heart, he turned professional in 2001 after attending the University of Georgia. In 2008, he began having problems and required a second heart transplant.
He must constantly monitor his physical condition between rounds, and practice sessions must be limited. He only played nine-hole practice rounds at Pinehurst this week to conserve energy for the grueling days ahead.
Compton has never won on the PGA Tour, but he did win the 2011 Mexico Open on the Web.com Tour.
He is enjoying his best season thus far. He has made 13 cuts in 18 events and has two top-10 finishes. Although he missed his last two cuts coming into Pinehurst, he finished T-5 at both the Arnold Palmer Invitational and the Zurich Classic.
Compton’s story is one of dedication and perseverance to the game of golf. A win or even a runner-up finish would validate all of the hard work he has expended to be a professional golfer.
Rickie Fowler was expected to be one of golf’s brightest stars even before he reached the PGA Tour. He had a celebrated amateur career and won every award available while attending Oklahoma State University.
He is a fan favorite. His clothing contract with Puma and equipment contract with Cobra keep him prominently displayed in golf magazines and television ads.
Although Fowler is only 25 years old, he has been on the PGA Tour for five years. He only has one win, but he has five career runners-ups in 123 events.
His best finish thus far in 2014 was third in the WGC-Accenture Match Play when he bested Ernie Els in the consolation match.
Fowler has never finished outside the top 50 in the FedEx Cup ranking and has earned over $12 million in his career.
One or two bad holes each week were keeping Fowler from winning more often. Last fall he sought the help of swing-guru extraordinaire Butch Harmon and is beginning to reap the rewards of a more compact swing.
Harmon has worked to eliminate some of the extra movement in Fowler’s swing and make it more dependable throughout a 72-hole golf tournament.
Fowler has always had the talent and flair for the big moments that are required to win a marquee event, but his swing would let him down at times.
If Kaymer stumbles on Sunday and Fowler or Compton can go low, maybe a new storybook ending can be written for the U.S. Open at Pinehurst.