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Pinehurst, United States – Tiger Woods remains sidelined after back surgery, but Germany's Martin Kaymer is dominating the US Open just like the 14-time major winner did in his prime.
The third round of the year's second major championship began Saturday at Pinehurst with Kaymer six strokes clear of the field after back-to-back 65s to stand on a US Open 36-hole record low 10-under par 130.
No player in major golf history had shot so low in each of the first two rounds at a major.
“Tiger Woods 2000 is here. He just looks like Martin Kaymer this week,” said US PGA veteran Bo Van Pelt.
“Ten-under is stupid. I could see one day at 4- or 5-under, but to back it up is historic.”
Kaymer's six-shot lead after 36 holes matched the record largest lead set by Woods at Pebble Beach in 2000 on his way to a major-record 15-shot victory that would launch the “Tiger Slam” of four major wins in a row.
It was equaled in 2011 by Rory McIlroy on his way to winning his first major at Congressional.
Kaymer's total ahead of his Saturday afternoon start was one-stroke below McIlroy's old 36-hole US Open record from 2011.
The 29-year-old from Dusseldorf, seeking his second major title after taking the 2010 PGA Championship, is coming off a Players Championship victory last month that snapped a three-year win drought on top-level tours.
American Brendon Todd, making his US Open debut, was second on 136 and in the final third-round pairing with Kaymer. Americans Kevin Na and Brandt Snedeker were another stroke adrift.
Among the final five groups Saturday, the only major winner other than Kaymer was Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner who shared fifth on 138 after playing alongside Kaymer for the first two days.
“He's playing so good it's fun to watch,” Bradley said. “It was fun watching him hit every fairway, every green and make every putt. It was pretty awesome.”
But not unbeatable given the legendary difficult conditions of a US Open.
“It's still very early on,” Bradley said. “He has got a big lead but that doesn't really change anything. If I can shoot all four rounds in the 60s, that would be pretty tough.
“There's a double on every hole if you're not careful so stick to the game plan.”
Kaymer has been called “The German-ator”, playing off Arnold Schwartznegger's “Terminator” movie character, for his unwavering precision and composure under pressure.
In seven events with a 36-hole lead, Kaymer has four wins and two runner-up efforts.
“He's as dialed in as I've seen,” Bradley said. “He's just very steady. He doesn't seem to get too up and down. That's a pretty good combination for the US Open.”
World number one Adam Scott, last year's Masters winner, and 20-year-old US prodigy Jordan Spieth, this year's Masters runner-up, were paired together and set to start about an hour before Kaymer.
Two-time major winner McIlroy is in the group after that and likes what he sees in Kaymer as well.
“He's an incredibly hard worker,” McIlroy said. “I see him all the time on the range. I see him all the time in the gym. So he's put the work in there and I don't think it's a surprise that he's playing the golf we know that he can play.” – Sapa-AFP