Martin Kaymer shot a 72 in tough third-round conditions at the US Open to take a five-shot lead into the final round

Martin Kaymer shot a 72 in tough third-round conditions at the US Open to take a five-shot lead into the final round.

The German, who had only recorded one birdie all week, dropped two shots over the first four holes before bouncing back with a superb eagle at the par-5 5th.

Conditions were tough on the third day, with Pinehurst drying out and the USGA – clearly unhappy that someone had reached 10-under-par after 36 holes – tucking the pins away.

The fact only two players managed to break par is indicitive of that.

Kaymer bogeyed the 6th but parred out the reach the turn in one-over-par 36, a decent effort given the conditions and the pressure.

He dropped further shots at 13 and 15, but a fine 3 at the last saw him home in 72 to maintain a sizeable lead on the field.

“It was good,” said Kaymer. “I didn’t play as good as the first two days, but I kept it together very well.

“I felt like today if you have 25 feet or 30 feet on every green, you’ve done well. The USGA put the pins in very, very tough positions. On 18 it was probably the easiest pin today and, fortunately, I could take care of it.

“I made a couple bad swings on the first nine, put myself in bad positions, but I only made bogey, which is okay. Only one birdie and one eagle, so I’m happy.

“So the challenge will be tomorrow to keep going and not try to defend anything, because if you try to defend then you’re not free enough. You don’t swing as free. So we’ll see how it will react tomorrow, how the body feels and how I handle the situation.”

Rickie Fowler – who continues to look a more complete player under Butch Harmon’s stewardship – shot a brilliant 67 to move into second place, a score and position matched by his compatriot Eric Compton.

Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson both shot rounds of level par to stay at two-under-par, with Brandt Snedeker (72) the only other player under par.