Kaymer poised to be last man standing on Sunday

By Randall MellJune 15, 2014, 1:34 am

PINEHURST, N.C. – You don’t knock out the field at U.S. Opens.

Yes, Tiger Woods did at Pebble Beach in 2000, and so did Rory McIlroy at Congressional in 2011, but they went rogue, massively departing from script.

Martin Kaymer may end up doing the same thing at Pinehurst No. 2, but Saturday he veered more to the formula in how these championships are supposed to be won. He looked more like a guy in a brawl trying to be the only puncher who isn’t knocked out. He looked like he was going to have to win this thing the way they’re usually won. He looked like he might end up being the last man standing.

With Pinehurst No. 2 turning firmer, faster and fiercer, Kaymer struggled for the first time in this championship, and yet he emerged at day’s end bruised but still very much in command in his bid to win his second major championship.

With an important birdie at the last, Kaymer posted a hard-fought 2-over-par 72.

Six shots up at day’s start, Kaymer saw his lead shrink to four on the back nine, with momentum working against him.

That birdie at the last, and a timely eagle on the front nine, left Kaymer at 8-under 202, five shots clear of Rickie Fowler (67) and Erik Compton (67), the two-time heart transplant recipient looking to make his medical miracle a golf miracle, too.

As vulnerable as Kaymer looked Saturday, this is still his championship to lose.

Nobody’s blown a lead of five shots or more going into the final round of the U.S. Open since Mike Brady in 1919.

“The biggest challenge is that you keep going, that you don’t try to defend anything,” Kaymer said. “If you try to defend, then you change your game plan and you don’t swing as free as usual. So that would be the biggest challenge tomorrow.”

Kaymer didn’t give away his advantage Saturday, but he gave the field something to work with.

He gave them a glimmer of hope.

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“Anything can happen,” said Dustin Johnson (70), who is six shots back. “I’ve yet to feel like I’ve played a great round, and I’ve been playing pretty well on Sundays this year. Hopefully, I can continue that.”

Nearly perfect the first two days, with just a single bogey over the first 36 holes, Kaymer kept knocking shots into trouble in the third round. He made five bogeys Saturday. He pulled his drive hard left at the fourth, up against a tree and took a penalty drop for an unplayable lie. He putted off the green at the sixth and made bogey. He couldn’t get up and down at the 13th and again at the 15th, making bogeys.

Still, Kaymer never came close to looking like he was going to lose his poise, and that doesn’t bode well for the field.

After taking that unplayable at No. 4, Kaymer punched a shot up the fairway and holed a 15-foot putt for a terrific bogey. At the very next hole, after pulling another tee shot into the native grasses, he carved a 7-iron from 210 yards right at the flagstick. He holed a 4-footer for eagle at No. 5.

Kaymer’s ball striking has been a strength overall here, but his biggest asset just might be his attitude. This is clearly a different guy than the one who struggled much of the last three seasons. He looks and sounds so secure now, like a man content with whatever his best effort gets him. He showed winning The Players Championship last month that he’s rebuilt his swing and his confidence after losing both with his fall from world No. 1 three years ago.

Watching the movie “Bagger Vance” on Friday, Kaymer said he was struck by the movie’s message, something he seems to have found long before seeing the flick.

“At the end of the day, we’re playing a game,” Kaymer said. “We can’t control a lot of things that happen on the golf course. You just have to play.”

Kaymer said he has been guilty of trying to control too much in his game and life, but he appears to be letting go of the angst of what he can’t control.

“It’s about feel and touch,” Kaymer said. “You have to play with your heart. You can’t control too many things, and that’s what I was trying to do the last few years. Now, I just play.”

Come Sunday, that might be all the formula Kaymer needs to win.

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Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

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Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

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Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.