WASHINGTON – Former world number one Martin Kaymer closed in on his first title in almost five years on Saturday, firing a six-under par 66 to take a two-shot lead over Adam Scott in the US PGA Tour's Memorial Tournament.
Germany's Kaymer hasn't won since his 2014 US Open triumph at Pinehurst, battling shoulder and wrist injuries along with a loss of focus and confidence as he slipped to his current 186th in the world.
But Kaymer didn't put a foot wrong on the Muirfield Village course in Dublin, Ohio, nabbing six birdies without a bogey for a 15-under par total of 201.
Australia's Scott, another former major champion who hasn't won in more than three years, had seven birdies in his 66, using a spectacular approach at the tough 18th hole to set up a three-foot finishing birdie.
Scott's 54-hole total of 203 put him two shots in front of a trio of players headed by three-time major winner Jordan Spieth and including Japan's Hideki Matsuyama and American Patrick Cantlay.
Matsuyama produced the best score of the day, capping his 64 with a chip-in for birdie from dense rough at 18. Cantlay carded a 68 and Spieth a 69.
Kaymer, who shared the overnight lead with South Korean rookie Lee Kyoung-hoon and American Troy Merritt, pulled away methodically as Lee's hot start gave way to a tough back nine and Merritt failed to fire.
Lee pulled away with four birdies in the first five holes. But he bogeyed four of five from the seventh through the 11th to fade to six off the lead.
Kaymer, meanwhile, drained a 14-foot birdie putt at the third, and stuck it close for birdies at the ninth and 11th before rolling in a long birdie bomb at the 13th.
Birdies at 15 and 16 stretched his lead, and he said he'd try to take the same approach on Sunday.
"I said to my caddie today on the range a very true thing, you know it doesn't really matter if you are 60th and play 18 holes or you lead the tournament and play 18 holes, the 18 holes don't change," Kaymer said.
"That will be my same attitude tomorrow: stay in control of the golf ball, hit fairways, hit greens, use the chances that will appear and see what happens."
Scott's lone bogey was a three-putt at the ninth hole, and the Australian was confident he has the game to win again.
"I'm just going to play as good as I can tomorrow," Scott said. "I feel like my game is at a level that if I put it all together properly and control myself out there, I can win."
Matsuyama won his first US PGA Tour title at the Jack Nicklaus-hosted Memorial in 2014 and would like nothing better than to accept the trophy from the Golden Bear again on Sunday.
Tiger Woods was resigned to the fact that he won't be claiming a sixth Memorial title, lamenting half a dozen lip-outs and a double-bogey at the 10th hole that halted his momentum.
He carded a two-under 70 that left him 11 adrift.AFP