Pinehurst, United States – Germany's Martin Kaymer looks to complete a wire-to-wire triumph in the final round of the US Open by holding off a set of rivals hungry for their first major title.
Kaymer, who won his first major at the 2010 PGA Championship, followed his US Open record-low start of back-to-back 65s with a two-over par 72 Saturday but was five strokes ahead after 54 holes.
The 29-year-old from Dusseldorf could become the first man from continental Europe to win the US Open crown and the fourth European winner in five seasons.
Former world number one Kaymer could also become just the seventh man to lead after every round, joining a select list that includes Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Walter Hagen, Ben Hogan, Tony Jacklin and James Barnes.
Not since Mike Brady squandered a five-shot edge in 1919 has a US Open 54-hole leader enjoyed such a margin and failed to win the title.
The victory would culminate a comeback for Kaymer, who struggled after his major triumph and went almost three years without a PGA win until taking last month's Players Championship.
Only Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Hal Sutton have won the Players and a major in the same year. No player has won the Players and a US Open in the same year.
But hoping to spoil Kaymer's bid were a handful of rivals under par, including a sentimental favorite in Erik Compton, who has undergone two heart transplants and is playing in only his second major.
The 34-year-old American, who missed the cut at the 2000 US Open, suffered with an inflamed heart and received his first transplant at age 12 in 1992. After a heart attack, Compton received another in 2008.
Compton has never won a PGA event, only playing sporadically until qualifying for a full-time spot in 2012. But he was fifth this year at Bay Hill and New Orleans and was told by 18-time major winner Jack Nicklaus that he would do well this week at Pinehurst.
Compton and US standout Rickie Fowler, who finished fifth at the Masters in April, were on 207 after shooting 67s Saturday, the only sub-par efforts in the third round.
Sweden's Henrik Stenson, who could become world number one with a victory, and American Dustin Johnson, shared fourth on 208 with American Brandt Snedker another stroke adrift. None have ever won a major.
Second-ranked Stenson, last year's US PGA playoff and European Tour Race to Dubai season points champion, would need to win and have top-ranked Adam Scott finish outside the top four to become world number one.
Johnson and Kaymer have some major history. At the 2010 PGA Championship which Kaymer won, Johnson led by a stroke entering the last hole and appeared to have made a bogey to put him in a playoff with Kaymer and Bubba Watson.
But Johnson was ruled to have grounded his club in a bunker, dropping him to fifth. He said later he was unable to tell he was in a bunker given the sandy area around it, an issue similar to fears some had about similar conditions this week in some areas of Pinehurst.
A victory by Snedeker would match the greatest last-day comeback in US Open history, the epic seven-shot rally by Arnold Palmer to win the 1960 US Open at Cherry Hills. – Sapa-AFP