Martin Kaymer, of Germany, tees off on the third hole during the third round of the Memorial golf tournament Saturday, June 1, 2019, in Dublin, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Kaymer builds 2-shot lead at Memorial

June 01, 2019 - 6:11 pm

DUBLIN, Ohio (AP) — Martin Kaymer didn't look the part of someone who hasn't won in five years. He was bogey-free Saturday in the Memorial for a 6-under 66 that gave him a two-shot lead over Adam Scott going into the final round.

Scott also had a 66, finishing with a shot into 3 feet on the 18th hole at Muirfield Village.

They will be in the final group at Muirfield Village, two major champions who reached No. 1 in the world and are in the midst of a drought. Scott has gone more than three years since his last victory during the Florida swing.

And they have company.

Hideki Matsuyama, who reached as high as No. 2 in the world, has gone nearly two years without winning. He had 64 and was four shots behind, along with Jordan Spieth, another former No. 1 player whose last victory was the 2017 British Open. Spieth had a 69.

Joining them was Patrick Cantlay, who had a two-shot lead going into the final round at the Memorial last year until the birdies stopped falling. Cantlay made his share Saturday for a 68.

Kaymer was at 15-under 201, mildly surprised but not the least bit stressed about trying to win for the first time since the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2.

"We can all play good golf, and it's quite nice for tomorrow because no one is really holding back," Kaymer said. "I think you only hold back if you don't know the situation because then you don't know how to react and you play safe, defensive. ... No one is playing like that in that group."

Kaymer was on the verge of falling out of the top 200 in the world ranking until a tie for eighth in the British Masters last month. His road back began with an emphasis on the short game, and it paid off in a big way on a course that slowly getting faster.

He holed par putts of 8 feet and 20 feet on the front nine to keep within the leaders, took the lead with a wedge into 3 feet for birdie on the par-5 11th, saved par from a scary bunker shot behind the 12th green with water in front of him, and then holed a 35-foot birdie putt on No. 13 that breaks sharply over the last few feet. Spieth, playing with Kaymer, raised his putter as he watched it break, appreciating the difficulty of it.

Scott had only one blemish on the ninth hole and did enough right to pile up birdies on the par 5s and a few other holes that he's in a spot to win again. A year ago, Scott left the Memorial and had to go through U.S. Open qualifying. While he hasn't won, he chased Brooks Koepka all the way to the finish line at Bellerive in the PGA Championship last summer and feels comfortable where he is.

"I'm just going to play as good as I can tomorrow," Scott said. "I like where it's all at. I feel like the last few times I've been in with a chance, going back to the PGA Championship last year, I felt comfortable. So I'm not worried. I feel like this is the spot I'm meant to be. ... 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 the Memorial in 2014, the start of his road to stardom. He finished strong on both nines to give himself a chance.

Tiger Woods also started strong by holing a bunker shot, nearly holing another and making the turn in 32. But on the 10th, his fairway bunker shot didn't get out and came back in his footprint, leading to a double bogey. That slowed momentum, and Woods finished with a bogey for a 70 that left him 11 shots out of the lead.

Kyoung-hoon Lee looked as though he might get some separation early when he opened with four birdies in five holes to reach 13 under for a three-shot lead, only to give it all back over a five-hole stretch around the turn. He was six behind.

Kaymer looked like a world beater in the summer of 2014 when he won The Players Championship in a Sunday duel against Spieth, and then won by eight shots at Pinehurst No. 2 for his second major. Where it all went is as mysterious as the game of golf, though Kaymer spoke about his focus being on the wrong things.

The German feels as though he's back, or close enough to contend in the next two summer majors, and Sunday could be a barometer. Either way, he was satisfied with his game and his position and what he's done.

"Tomorrow is playing brave, playing the way I can play, enjoying the capability of my game," he said. "Everything is there. I don't need to hold back with anything. I don't need to be afraid of something that could happen. I just look forward to whatever happens tomorrow."

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