Kaymer's new calling card - excellence
Call it the Hallmark double but don’t expect the congratulations to be followed up with a sympathy card this time.
Five weeks after winning golf’s unofficial fifth major on Mother’s Day, The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass, Martin Kaymer produced another wire-to-wire waltz to win the US Open on Father’s Day.
The 29-year-old German’s closing one-under 69 Sunday capped an utterly unflappable display at Pinehurst No.2, his third sub-par round of the week and his 271 total bettering joint runners-up Ricky Fowler and double heart transplant recipient Eric Compton by eight shots.
To put that into context understand that the 15 other golfer’s in the last eight pairings Sunday were a combined 52 over par (an average of 4.46 strokes worse than Kaymer). Only 11 players, including Kaymer, broke Pinehurst’s par of 70 in the final round and this on a 7349 yard layout that featured two drivable par 4s and some gettable par 5s.
It was the equal fourth largest victory margin in the 114 year history of America’s national championship and more importantly re-established the former world No.1 as one of golf’s hottest talents.
After his major championship breakthrough at the 2010 US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, Kaymer won his second successive and third Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship in total in early 2011 and soon afterwards tipped Lee Westwood off his perch as world No.1.
But Kaymer now admits he wasn’t ready for the attention and after just 11 weeks at the summit of world golf started a slide that saw him outside the top 60 last year.
Kaymer is remembered for sinking the putt that clinched Europe’s Ryder Cup Miracle at Medinah in 2012 but had already taken the decision to radically overhaul his swing, targeted mostly at contending in the US Masters, and it was taking a toll on his game and psyche.
“I couldn’t handle a lot of things that happened in Germany, all the attention that I could get. And then becoming No. 1 in the world, that added another thing,” he said of the fallout from Whistling Straits.
“It was too much. It was just, you know, to be completely honest, it was very difficult to handle everything and to play good golf.”
Now with a more complete game to call on, Kaymer is set to hurtle from 28th in the world rankings to just outside the top 10. And the nature of his performance at Pinehurst - he led by three shots after 18 holes, six after 36 (with a US Open record 130 score) and five after 54 before winning by eight – will have the players at the sharp end of golf’s world order nervously surveying their rear-view mirrors.
While the best of the rest were left to look decidedly ordinary by Pinehurst’s hard humpback greens, Kaymer found a way to keep his TaylorMade sphere on the greens and proceeded to putt beautifully all week long.
“Martin was playing his own tournament,” Fowler said afterwards. Henrik Stenson, who closed with a 73 to finished in a five-way share of fourth, could only concur.
“He kind of killed the event in the first two days,” the Swede said as a maiden major went begging. “He went out and shot two 65s and left everyone in the dust.”
Kaymer, who now has as many majors as his mentor, two-time Masters champion and countryman Bernard Langer, was pleased with how he ground out victory.
“I didn’t make many mistakes,” said the aptly dubbed ‘Germanator’ who mixed four birdies with three bogeys on Sunday. “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 one 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 joins Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy as the only players to win two majors and be No. 1 in the world before turning 30 since the world ranking began in 1986. He is the fourth European in the last five years to win the US Open after Europe had endured a 40 year title drought.
After undoubtedly deflecting some of the attention away from Germany’s footballers FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Kaymer is in for a long homecoming parade with his next tournament the BMW International in Cologne from June 26-29.
Only this time he seems ready. And that’s a good thing because the Arizona-based pro will now surely be a hot favourite for the Open Championship at Royal Liverpool from July 17-20.
“You want to win majors in your career, but if you can win one more, it means so much more,” he said.
Don’t be surprised if there is a lot more than one more by the time the reborn Kaymer is done. – Kent Gray is the Managing Editor of Middle East Golfer magazine.