Martin Kaymer cooled off from his record-setting pace on Saturday. He missed a few fairways, putted off a green and made a handful of bogeys. He even took an unplayable before shooting 72. At times, it looked as if the wheels were coming off.
At the end of the day, the soft-spoken German's lead is only one less than when he started. Clearly, he is in control of this U.S. Open.
"Two over par is not as bad as it looks on the scorecard," Kaymer said of his score that came on a day when just two players found red figures.
After missing just three fairways all day, he missed that many in the first five holes. One errant drive found a nest of pine straw from which he was forced to take a drop and ended up sinking an 18-foot putt for bogey, his second in four holes.
Another drive ended up in the native area and, after NBC announcer Roger Maltbie told viewers Kaymer would have almost no shot, he put it to five feet and made eagle. His lone birdie of the day came on the final hole.
After watching Kaymer cruise over the first 36 holes, the United States Golf Association clearly didn't want to have to re-write the record books anymore and so the pins were tucked in some near-diabolical spots and the greens rolled firm.
Only Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton managed sub-par rounds, both 67s.
Fowler knows that reeling in the leader will be a near-impossible task; however he'll still put the ball in the ground on Sunday. Crazy things seem to happen in majors.
"I can put myself in contention with the rest of the group, and see what Martin does," he stated. "If he goes out and posts double digits, it's going to be impossible for us to catch him. It's like a second tournament going on. See what Martin does. He's obviously on top of his game and playing well."
Compton's spot is all the more remarkable considering he is playing with his third heart. The player who won the Order of Merit on the Canadian Tour back in 2004 has undergone two transplants, the last one in 2008.
"I think it's very special," said Compton of his position. "I'm just happy to be able to play golf. But to play at this high level and in such a big tournament, it is something that I carry with me."
They are the closest to Kaymer although it must seem a long way back with just 18 holes to go. Playing catch-up on this golf course, with this difficulty is not easy.
Now it is up to Kaymer to finish things off.
"I'm looking forward to see how I feel, how I react to certain situations," he said. "Anything can happen. I can lead by seven or eight shots after nine holes. I can be down to all-square. So it will be an exciting round. For me, personally, it will be interesting how I handle it."
A win would push Kaymer back into elite territory. The group of people who have won a major is small enough, but the multiple major winners' club is even more exclusive.
After his first major, Kaymer spent years re-building his swing for moments such as these. Sunday he will get a chance to see if it will hold up under the toughest test in the game.