German precision – Kaymer-style
Eric Compton, a survivor of two heart transplants tees off in the final round of the 2014 US Open: Photo Courtesy of – golfweek.com
Martin Kaymer has climbed to the summit and slid back down again but a magical week at Pinehurst No. 2 has the German on the ascent again, running roughshod over the field to win the 2014 U.S. Open by eight strokes.
The 29-year embraced the restored classic of American golf to set all-time scoring records with opening rounds of 65-65, the first in history to do so at a U.S. Open, and then toyed with the field at the weekend to become the first German and the fourth European in the last five years to claim the trophy.
Kaymer’s dominance was proof that his steely performance in May to win The Players Championship to break an 18-month victory slump was the beginning, and not the culmination, of something much bigger, much grander.
Validation for all the hard work he has endured to regain the kind of form that won him the 2010 PGA Championship in a three-hole playoff with Dustin Johnson at Whistling Straits and lift 10 European Tour trophies from 2008–2011.
Further validation to any that doubted that he was the genuine article when he topped the world rankings for a period of two months a little over three years ago.
“This is quite nice proof, to have two major championships under your belt and only 29-years old.” said the newly crowned champion, 2012 Ryder Cup hero and the hottest man in golf right now.
Whether he knew it or not, Kaymer also slept on the prospect of a slew of scrapbook entry moments; becoming the first Continental European winner of the U.S. Open; becoming just the fifth player – alongside Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Tiger Woods and Raymond Floyd – to win the U.S. Open, PGA Championship and The Players treble; and the only European alongside the great Severiano Ballesteros to have won two majors and held the World No. 1 ranking before turning 30.
Once Sunday dawned, the inevitable became the reality with no player able to inch any closer than four shots of Kaymer and even then, only briefly.
Kaymer capped off his command ball striking and putting performance by completing what is becoming a Pinehurst Open champion’s rite of passage: missing the 18th fairway to the right and pitching out of the sandy rough, just as Payne Stewart (1999) and Michael Campbell (2005) did before him.
Like Stewart in ’99 although with far less pressure, Kaymer holed a lengthy par putt to win by eight over the dogged dual-heart transplant recipient Erik Compton and playing partner Rickie Fowler.
“I didn’t make many mistakes,” said Kaymer, after his four birdie, three bogey final round of 69 for a 72-hole total of 9-under 271. “The last two wins that I had in America, especially this week, I played very solid the first two days and that gave me a very nice cushion for the weekend.”
“But to shoot only 1 over par at Pinehurst on Saturday and Sunday is good. The way I played I was very happy, the way I kept it together yesterday. And that gave me a good cushion for today.”
Kaymer’s eight-stroke romp tied Ryder Cup teammate Rory McIlroy’s victory margin in 2011 when the Northern Irishman lapped the field at Congressional. Behind the pair of them in each year, a ‘helluva second flight’ was contested and the potential storylines in 2014 were plentiful.
A first major for Fowler, Henrik Stenson, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson; a true feel good story in Compton. Keegan Bradley tweeted on Sunday morning that “Eric Compton winning today would probably be the best story in the history of sports.” He may not be wrong.
Sadly for them and for the second major in a row, there was nobody who would step up in the early stages on a windless afternoon to have Kaymer question his resolve or even remotely glance into his rear vision mirror.
With the challengers failing to advance, Kaymer held playing partner Fowler at bay and went about obliterating any chance of these headlines making it to print with a performance that reeked of outstanding German precision and engineering.
“He kind of killed the event in the first two days,” said the vanquished Stenson. “And then it was more a question of if he would keep it under control. He held everyone off and then went out and played a solid round today.”
“So very impressive and a very deserving champion.”
Fowler had the early American crowd support but as the final round unfolded and it became clear that he was not simply there to make up the numbers, the gallery were quick to share their support with the ‘underdog’ in Compton.
“On every hole, from the tee box to the putting green, people were cheering for me and I definitely felt the love and the support from the crowd,” Compton said, who is still in search of his first win on Tour.
Compton got into this championship using the same fighting qualities he showed on Sunday, surviving a five-way playoff in sectional qualifying. His history as a survivor is well documented and a ‘never give up attitude’ to life and golf gave him a chance – outside as it was – of a Cinderella Story on Sunday.
“Seemed like people really got around my story.” Compton continued, “And for me to be here and to do this at such a high level is just as good of a feeling as winning a golf tournament. So it’s just a great feeling. I can’t wait to get back into another major.”
He won’t be waiting long as the 34-year old’s finish in this just his second major, will guarantee him a start in at least a few more.
The injured Tiger Woods was missed but just the like the spectacularly restored Pinehurst No. 2 course which was a marvel all week, a renewed Martin Kaymer has more than adequately filled the void of a dominant champion with a performance for the ages.
“To sit here with the U.S. Open trophy,” Kaymer said, “Sitting there with the U.S. Open trophy late on Sunday night is …very, very happy. Very, very nice. Very, very satisfying.”
About the only negative for Kaymer will be his record scoring spree will result in further handicap shortening at the Whisper Rock Golf Club he calls home in Scottsdale, Arizona. The club will be swift to lower his handicap further from +5.9 as it stood at the end of May.
Off such an austere mark, there will be plenty of well heeled, well performed members lining up to take their chance at rolling the reigning U.S. Open and Players champion when he’s back in town.
They should bring their money with them, this streak might not be at an end just yet.
Golf’s inform player Martin Kaymer the first German to win the US Open: Photo courtesy of – golfweek.com
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