PINEHURST, N.C. — Martin Kaymer was cruising toward his second major title Sunday with a dominating performance at the U.S. Open.
No one made a charge at the 29-year-old German, who appeared certain to add to the title he won at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in 2010.
He began the round with a five-shot lead and had an eight-stroke advantage over Rickie Fowler with three holes remaining. Kaymer stretched out his lead with consecutive birdies at the 13th and 14th holes, the last of them a 30-footer that took his score to 2 under on the day and 10 under overall.
Fowler and Erik Compton were the only other players still in the red for the tournament. Fowler was at 2 under, his hopes of challenging Kaymer effectively ended with a double-bogey at the fourth. Compton, who has undergone two heart transplants, got within four strokes of the lead at one point before fading. He had three bogeys in a five-hole stretch on the back side to drop to 1 under.
Fowler was playing in the final group at a major for the first time. But he had a miserable time at No. 4, where his second shot sailed off into the pine trees right of the fairway, then his next shot flew over the green. He needed to sink a long putt just to make 6.
Kaymer opened the tournament with back-to-back 65s for a 10-under 130, the lowest 36-hole score in Open history. He struggled in tougher conditions Saturday but still managed a 2-over 72 that left him with a comfortable advantage at 8-under 202.
The conditions were more inviting than the previous day when only Fowler and Compton broke par. There was little wind, and some of the pins were easier to reach.
There already were 10 scores in the 60s among those who had finished, led by Daniel Berger with a 4-under 66. But other than Kaymer, no one in the final five groups was under par.
But it was another frustrating day for Phil Mickelson, who didn’t come close to completing his career Grand Slam. The six-time Open runner-up failed to break par all week, finishing with a 72 that left him at 7-over 287.
The world’s top-ranked player, Adam Scott, turned in a 69 to wind up at 282.
Zach Johnson had the shot of the day, acing the 172-yard ninth hole.
Johnson’s 7-iron landed about 20 feet left of the flag, bounced twice, and curled down the slope into the cup. The player flung his club in the air while the gallery roared, then took off on a hand-slapping celebration along both sides of the ropes. After retrieving his ball from the hole, he tossed it into the crowd.
There were only six players under par heading to the final round. Fowler and Compton were the closest challengers to Kaymer, both five shots back.
Kaymer seemed to be playing a different course the first two days, making 11 birdies and only one bogey. The third round was more of a grind, with the leader making five bogeys. He offset his bogeys with an eagle at No. 5 and a closing birdie on the 18th, leaving him firmly in control.
The only player to squander a five-shot lead going to the final round was Mike Brady in 1919. He shot 80 and lost to Walter Hagen in a playoff the following day.