PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) — The mantra from the 66 players chasing Martin Kaymer at Pinehurst No. 2 is that anything can happen in the U.S. Open.
There is reason for hope.
Only twice in the last 20 years of the U.S. Open has the 54-hole leader managed to break par in the final round. Then again, both were runaway winners. Rory McIlroy had an eight-shot lead at rain-softened Congressional in 2011 and closed with a 69. Tiger Woods had a 10-shot lead at Pebble Beach in 2000 and closed with a 67.
Three players didn't even break 80, including Retief Goosen. He was going for back-to-back U.S. Open wins at Pinehurst No. 2 in 2005 and shot 81.
These are the five things to consider going into Sunday at Pinehurst No. 2:
BIG LEADS: Kaymer will be the first to say that no lead is safe — even the five-shot lead he takes into the final round.
He made a 10-foot birdie putt on the final hole Saturday to reach 8-under 202, and it would seem that extra shot could go a long way.
"If you're four shots, five shots, six shots, if you play a golf course like this, it can be gone very quickly," he said.
Dustin Johnson had a three-shot lead that was gone in two holes at Pebble Beach in 2010. Retief Goosen had a three-shot lead in 2005 at Pinehurst No. 2. And that's just over the last 10 years.
Kaymer has experience with a big lead. He led by six shots in the BMW International Open in his native Germany in 2008, and he went on to win — but only after losing the lead and having to make birdie on the first playoff hole to beat Anders Hansen.
BIG HEART: A common saying at any major, and particularly the U.S. Open, is that a player has to have a lot of heart to withstand the pressure of the final round.
Erik Compton is on his third heart.
In what is truly one of the more remarkable stories, Compton is tied for second place going into the final round after a 3-under 67 — one of only two rounds under par on Saturday — that included one eagle and five birdies.
Compton had his first heart transplant when he was 12, and still managed to play in the Walker Cup in 2001 at Sea Island. He was trying to find his way on the Nationwide Tour when he suffered a heart attack in 2007 — his heart was pumping at 15 percent capacity when he drove himself to the hospital, calling everyone to say that he loved him because he thought it was over. He had his second heart transplant six months later.
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