Martin Kaymer was delighted to survive a tough test at Pinehurst to take a five-shot lead into the final round of the US Open.
Successive rounds of 65 meant Kaymer had equalled the lowest halfway total in major championship history (130), as well as eclipsing the US Open record of 131 set by Rory McIlroy at Congressional in 2011.
The 29-year-old's six-shot halfway lead also matched the championship record shared by Tiger Woods (2000) and McIlroy (2011), but some fiendish pin positions meant only two players broke par on Saturday.
Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton carded matching rounds of 67 to finish three under par, while Kaymer finished eight under par after a 72 that could have been much worse if not for a stunning eagle on the fifth and a birdie from six feet on the last.
McIlroy slipped out of contention with a four-over-par 74 that included six bogeys and just two birdies.
"It was good," said Kaymer, who is seeking to claim a wire-to-wire victory as he did in the Players Championship at Sawgrass last month.
"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."
Kaymer, who won the 2010 US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and became world number one for eight weeks the following February, added: "If you have a lead of four shots, five shots, six shots... at the end of the day, if you play a golf course like this it can be gone very quickly.
"You could see it today. I made three bogeys the first six holes. I didn't hit many fairways today.
"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.
"I think I was leading by six shots in 2008, playing the BMW International Open in Germany.
"That was a tough tournament in many ways. I had only been on tour for a year and a half, and then all of a sudden everybody expects you to win the golf tournament.
"Obviously there was a lot of support and I didn't really want to disappoint the people. My lead was gone after 11 holes.
"So then the support of the people really helped and I could fight back a little bit, I could get into the play-off and birdied the first hole to win the golf tournament.
"That was pretty much the only time where I had a lead by four or five or six shots."