Sleeping on a Saturday 3rd round lead can be daunting for most elite golfers. However, when you're leading wire-to-wire and you've won a major in your career to-date it's not as difficult. "It's going to be the toughest day of my career. It won't be easy. But I watched some golf this morning and the flags are a little bit easier, so I hope I can take advantage of a few of them" says Kaymer who had quite a bit of breathing room going into his final round at 3:35pm today. We'd like to create some interest by saying today's match would be that of The World Cup - USA vs. Germany, but even that rings hollow. The fiery Fowler vs the calming demeanor of Kaymer was a stark contrast not only in styles and personalities but in skills. Kaymer who's battle-proven game has been honed winning a PGA Championship and seeking to add the 2nd piece of a career Grand Slam with a US Open victory to Fowler who's recently changed coaches seeking to find that ever present slot of perpetual perfection. Pinehurst played so difficult yesterday that chasing the lead would still require an historic collapse of epic proportions; one that wasn't likely to occur.
The final hour and fifteen minutes of Brendon de Jonge's 3rd round cancelled out an otherwise excellent trip around the Coore & Crenshaw renaissance. His first 11 holes found him at -2 for the day alone in second place for 35 minutes within reasonable striking distance of the lead AND his first PGA or USGA victory! The Devils of the Sandhills bogey-bogey-double bogey-bogey run in five holes left Brendon frustrated and disgusted with himself. Uncharacteristic to his normal mode of play and like many tour caliber golfers, he began to play outside of his capabilities trying to bite off more than he should and force the issue in order to recover from his forced and unforced errors - a recipe for disaster at every level of sports.
The final round for Brendon didn't start off any better with three bogeys in the first four holes scoring 11 over par in his last eight holes to that point. Continuing his negative slide, Brendon drifted even further down the leaderboard into T15. Nobody wins a major championship with that string nor a PGA Tour event - a feat Brendon still seeks after 7 years on tour. Lady Luck, the breaks, consistently great 72 holes of golf continues to elude our All American. At some point, BDJ will break thru and improve his scoring and certainly his energy to where it's previously been when he won consistently at every other level.
With 13 holes remaining in the 114th US Open Championship for Brendon, he began his customarily steady play with birdie on the par five 5th hole and pars on six and seven. He exited his outward nine with a string of pars only to yield to a bogey on par 4 ninth claims +3 for the day. Sliding further down the leaderboard into T20, Brendon tried to salvage what had certainly been a disappointing final 36 holes at the US Open. He scrambled through much of the day hitting 9 of 18 greens putting far too much pressure on his struggling short game. Making it even more difficult, the green complexes are just far too penal when you're missing the few level spots on the infamous turtle-back surfaces.
Four events remain between here and the British Open in mid July at Royal Liverpool - The Deere, The Greenbrier, QuickLoans and The Traveler's - offer many first time PGA Tour winners the opportunity to salvage an otherwise mediocre season. Brendon can ill afford to continue his sporadic play during the major championships at this point. Hopefully, he can refresh his spirirt and re-energize the back half of the season to reach the pinnacle of personal success out on the PGA Tour in this Ryder Cup year. Do me a favor BDJ, win the PGA Championship on my birthday! We'd both be thrilled.