PINEHURST, N.C. — This was German engineering at its finest.
Martin Kaymer, from Dusseldorf, could not have engineered a better plan for dominating the U.S. Open. He took complete control in the first two rounds, then cruised on the weekend and won by eight shots with a final-round 69 at Pinehurst No. 2 on Sunday to finish at 9 under.
If you were looking for suspense, you came to the wrong place. But if you appreciate golf brilliance, like the kind Tiger Woods showed when winning the 2000 U.S. Open by 15 shots at Pebble Beach, this was must-watch viewing. Kaymer’s score of 271 was the second-best in tournament history, behind Rory McIlroy’s 268 in 2011.
“For me, the challenge was to keep going, to stay aggressive, make birdies, go for some flags, and don’t hold back,” Kaymer said, admitting that while it looked easy it was one of the hardest rounds of his career. “And it’s very difficult to do, because at some stage you get a little bit tight and … your body tells you, ‘you know, you should take it easy.’ I overcame that feeling, I stayed aggressive, and I played very brave. So I’m very proud of that.”
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Kaymer, 29, set the record for the best first two rounds in the history of the event (65-65-130), then never gave his opponents a hint of hope on the weekend. His lead never shrunk below four shots on Sunday, and that margin was only for a brief moment.
For the rest of the field, the course played like a typical U.S. Open, where a total score around par gives a player a good chance to win. Rickie Fowler was in the final group with Kaymer and finished tied for second with Erik Compton, who has undergone two heart transplants, at 1 under.
Five players tied for fourth at 1 over, 10 shots behind Kaymer.
“It was fun playing alongside (Kaymer) and watching him, how he controlled himself throughout the day,” Fowler said.
Kaymer, who ascended to No. 1 in the world after winning the PGA Championship in 2010, had fallen out of the top 50 in the world before a recent resurgence. He said he quit worrying about technique and just started playing. It paid off when he won the Players Championship in wire-to-wire fashion in May. A month later, he became the first German to win a U.S. Open and the 10th player to lead after every round,
But even with a five-shot cushion entering Sunday, Kaymer said he felt pressure from the start.
“Of course you’re nervous when you’re leading a major championship,” he said. “You can’t tell me that you are calm. We’re human beings, not robots.”
But he was machine-like in his execution. He said the key was getting off to a good start.
“It was very nice that I could make some solid shots the first five, six holes, and I was 1-under par, so I was in control. And that was the most important thing for me, to stay in control of the golf tournament.”
And now he is a two-time major champion.
“You want to win majors in your career, but if you can win one more, it means so much more,” he said. “When I went through that lull, (people) called me the one-hit wonder and those things. So it’s quite nice, even though I don’t feel like I needed to prove a lot.”
|Dominating the field|
|The lowest 72-hole scores to par in U.S. Open history:|
|Note: Kaymer’s four-day total of 271 is second lowest in Open history, to McIlroy’s 268 in 2011.|
Scott Hanson: 206-464-2943 or firstname.lastname@example.org