PINEHURST, North Carolina - World No.1 Adam Scott admitted being too cautious after failing to take advantage as runaway US Open leader Martin Kaymer finally showed vulnerability on a brutally difficult Pinehurst No.2 course.
After posting the lowest total in Open history through 36 holes to lead by six shots at 10-under, German star Kaymer's two-over-par 72 third round was still good enough to lead by five from American young gun Rickie Fowler (67) and feel good story Erik Compton (67), a double heart transplant recipient.
Scott battled to a 73 and fellow Australian Jason Day a 72 to be three-over - a distant 10 shots behind Kaymer - in a tie for 16th and needing a miracle.
World No.2 Henrik Stenson (70), who could take Scott's No.1 status with a win if Scott finishes outside the top four, and Dustin Johnson (70) share fourth at two-under.
Aaron Baddeley, the only other Australian to make the halfway cut from 11 starters, shot 73 to be four-over and tied 23rd.
"I might have played a bit too cautious," Scott lamented.
"Today was a bit of a letdown.
"Every round I've got under par after the first half a dozen holes and only one day I've managed to keep it going so that's a little disappointing."
In extremely hot and dry conditions and playing a very tough course setup that allowed only two sub-par rounds on Saturday, Scott started strongly with some impressive par saving efforts over the opening four holes.
The Queenslander than pumped a drive down the par-five fifth and hit a beautiful six iron to seven-feet with his second.
But his eagle putt lipped out forcing him to settle for a birdie and rather than ride the momentum forward he stumbled as the par threes on the course bared their teeth.
Scott bogeyed three of the four par threes, killing his charge.