DORAL, Fla. (AP) — Martin Kaymer still has occasional pain in his left foot, thanks to all the hardware surgeons used to put it back together after a go-cart accident last summer.
Needing only 22 putts to get around Doral on Saturday made everything feel a whole lot better.
Kaymer shot a 6-under 66 in the third round of the CA Championship, making eight birdies in all, including four in his final five holes to vault up the leaderboard. Tied for 22nd when the day began, Kaymer finished alone in sixth, four shots behind Charl Schwartzel and Ernie Els.
Patience at Doral, where the weather has been different every day this week, was key, he said.
“I would say today was by far the toughest day,” Kaymer said as the wind continued to rip across Doral.
His scorecard wouldn’t reflect that.
Kaymer opened with a 70, then slogged his way to a 72 on Friday, needing 32 putts to get there. He says he’s been trying to get an average of two hours a day on the practice greens in recent weeks.
On Saturday, it paid off. He had just one three-putt – dropping a shot at the par-4 17th – and holed out from the fringe on Nos. 14 and 15 to kick-start his fast finish.
“Today was one of those days,” Kaymer said.
He broke three toes near his home in Scottsdale, Ariz., in August, forcing him to take about six weeks off. He still can’t go running because of the plates and screws, so Kaymer pleaded with doctors to find a solution. They obliged, and Kaymer will head back to his native Germany after the Masters for surgery to remove the metal.
“My doctor said you can take them out,” Kaymer said. “So I said, ‘Why not?'”
GALLERY GALORE: Camilo Villegas is adored by galleries in South Florida perhaps more than anywhere else, thanks in large part to his Latin American heritage. Phil Mickelson is a crowd favorite just about everywhere he plays.
They played together at the CA Championship on Saturday, Doral’s dynamic duo.
Followed around by easily the biggest group of fans on the golf course, Villegas shot 70, Mickelson 72 on Saturday. Both seemed to be feeding at times off the crowd, so large that it stretched 75 yards up either side of the fairway at Doral’s fifth hole.
“Special place for me,” Villegas said. “Every year they keep coming and coming and supporting me, and that’s awesome. It’s what I said earlier in the week; you have to enjoy it, but you’ve got to stay committed and you’ve got to be careful, because it can be a little distracting.”
Mickelson spent much of the day acting like his normal self, tipping his hat, waving, giving a thumbs-up and even high-fiving a kid on his way to the eighth tee.
But his day took a pained turn late.
Mickelson stung his left elbow on an approach shot on the 18th hole. He did not speak with reporters, releasing a statement instead saying he’s had similar problems before and expects it to go away in less than 24 hours.
ALLENBY’S STREAK: Robert Allenby did something rare for him on Saturday. He made par on Doral’s first hole.
Starting with the third round of the CA Championship in 2008, Allenby had made birdie or better eight straight times at the par-5 opener on the Blue Monster before Saturday. He eagled No. 1 on Friday.
Allenby had a chance to extend his streak with a 12-footer on Saturday, which came up a bit short.
And that wasn’t a very good sign.
Allenby didn’t make his first birdie of the third round until connecting on a 3 1/2-footer at the par-4 11th. He did, however, make another at No. 18, getting within two shots of the lead entering the final round.
KUCHAR’S CHARGE: Matt Kuchar showed up at Doral with a yardage book from 2004, the last time he’d been in the field on the Blue Monster.
His tournament started with an eagle, and he’s still rolling.
Kuchar birdied five of his first eight holes, setting the tone for what became a bogey-free round of 67 that got him into a tie for seventh entering Sunday. He made 10 straight pars to end the day.
“Hard to believe in these conditions,” Kuchar said. “If you had told me prior to the round, would you take even par and just go sit in the clubhouse, I would have said ‘For sure.'”
For the record, Kuchar shot 75-76 at Doral in 2004 and missed the cut.
LOOKING FOR BIRDIES: Rory McIlroy opened last year’s CA Championship with rounds of 68 and 66.
He hasn’t beaten par since.
McIlroy shot 72 and 73 on the weekend last year, and has posted scores of 76, 73 and 73 this week at Doral. Through three rounds, McIlroy has five birdies in 54 holes, the second-fewest of anyone in the tournament.
Michael Sim has just two birdies through three rounds, none of them in his last 24 holes.