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Kaymer fires 65 for 3-shot lead at Pinehurst

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PINEHURST, N.C. – There was little separation for much of the day at Pinehurst No. 2, but by the end of the afternoon a familiar name was atop the standings. Here’s how things shape up heading into the second round of the U.S. Open, where Martin Kaymer leads and is looking for an unprecedented double:

Leaderboard: Martin Kaymer (-5), Graeme McDowell (-2), Kevin Na (-2), Brendon de Jonge (-2), Fran Quinn (-2), Brandt Snedeker (-1), Henrik Stenson (-1), Matt Kuchar (-1), Jordan Spieth (-1), Brendon Todd (-1), Hideki Matsuyama (-1), Dustin Johnson (-1), Harris English (-1), Keegan Bradley (-1), Francesco Molinari (-1)

What it means: More than half the field was within four shots of the lead for much of the afternoon before Kaymer got hot on the back nine and created some separation. One month after winning at TPC Sawgrass, he’s now the man to beat as he looks to become the first player to win the U.S. Open and the Players in the same year.

Round of the day: Kaymer was steady for much of the day before a run of three birdies in four holes from Nos. 14-17, a stretch where he picked up more than three shots on the field. His 5-under 65 is the lowest round ever shot at Pinehurst during a U.S. Open, one shot better than Peter Hedblom’s second-round 66 in 2005.

Best of the rest: McDowell won this event in 2010 and was a runner-up in 2012, and he again proved his mettle with a 2-under 68. The Ulsterman had only one bogey, countering with a birdie at No. 14 and an eagle at the par-5 fifth. Already with four top-20 finishes in five U.S. Open starts, he is again a factor at the season’s second major.

Biggest disappointment: Reigning Masters champ Bubba Watson entered the week with aspirations of a second straight major, but those hopes appear dashed after Watson opened with a 6-over 76. The southpaw made only one birdie on the day and was 5 over after just 10 holes. He reached only nine of 18 greens in regulation and now appears unlikely to play the weekend.

Main storyline heading into Friday: Kaymer will be off in the morning wave, so he has a chance to create even further distance between himself and the field with another solid outing. No shortage of star players remain in the hunt, though, including Phil Mickelson, whose bid for the career grand slam began with an even-par 70.

Quote of the day: “I got asked yesterday what score I would take for the whole week, and I said 8 over par, so hopefully that’s not going to happen.” – Kaymer