Martin Kaymer capped off his record-setting U.S. Open performance with a 10-footer for par to win the 114th edition by eight strokes over Erik Compton and Rickie Fowler. Kaymer is the seventh player in the history of the championship to go wire-to-wire, and his 271 (9-under) total score is second to Rory McIlroy’s 268 total score at the 2011 Open at Congressional.
In the three U.S. Opens at Pinehurst No. 2, no one had ever shot 65 before Kaymer did it on Thursday and Friday to jump six strokes in front of the pack. His lead went to five after a Saturday 72, and his steady play on Sunday sealed the deal as no one in the field made a serious charge up the leaderboard.
Kaymer settled into his final round nicely with a great par save on two, and a birdie on the par-4 third after driving the green. A bogey on seven was offset by a brilliant birdie on the par-3 ninth hole after hitting his approach to about six-feet.
A back-and-forth bogey on the par-5 tenth hole made things interesting for a few minutes, but his closest challenger at the time, Erik Compton, bogeyed eleven and twelve to push Kaymer’s lead back to six strokes through 12 holes.
The tournament was essentially over after Kaymer poured two birdie putts in the center of the cup on 13 and 14 to get to 10-under for the tournament, and take an eight stroke lead through 14 holes.
On 16, the 29-year-old narrowly missed a par putt, and went to nine-under. A routine par on 17 was followed by a wayward drive on 18 that forced Kaymer to punch out of the native area. He hit his third shot to 10-feet, and read it perfectly for an eight-stroke victory over Compton and Fowler.
Kaymer handled himself extremely well on Sunday, and he credited his caddie, Craig Connelly, with helping him deal with the pressure of holding a big lead at the start of the day. Kaymer said, “So it was a tough challenge approaching today. A lot of emotions involved, a lot of expectations, and that’s what I said to Craig. Overall, the whole day will be very, very difficult. And him being so relaxed and so positive and open, me being more focused and very strict on things, it was a good combination. And that is what I needed. So without Craig, it would have been a lot more difficult today.”
The two-time major champion (2010 PGA) managed all the pressure and expectations by getting off to an ideal 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.”
Kaymer never lost momentum during the final round either. He looked comfortable out there, and always managed to make a birdie when the field started to inch closer to his lead.
Kaymer was prepared to take on the field, but it took a while for him to get back to the world class form that led to a victory at the 2010 PGA Championship. He said, “Four years ago, I didn’t know what’s happening, you know. I was surprised. I was not expecting myself to win a major at 25. I was surprised about my performance. I was surprised about a lot of things. 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. And 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. So right now, I am okay with talking to you in a very calm, normal, relaxed way, as if we were having a normal conversation. In the past, I always think I have to say something special and something that might be interesting. Now I just talk and it’s a lot more — it’s a lot easier for me.”
Now, everything seems to be going Kaymer’s way, especially on the difficult Pinehurst green complexes. “I really enjoyed the greens. I really had fun on the greens because you could be very creative around the greens and you could play with all the slopes. So it’s really fun for me to play. I got really confident.”
“After the first day, I had a couple of testers early in the round, like the first nine on Thursday morning — or I played in the afternoon, so Thursday afternoon. I could make those putts, so it gave me a lot of confidence. I had a good stroke. I didn’t struggle much on the greens on Thursday and Friday; therefore, it was quite nice knowing that you putt well, you just have to let it happen on the weekend and everything will be fine.”
Martin’s putting was great, but he said his irons were the best part of his game. “My irons. They were very solid. I didn’t hit many bad iron shots. Of course, you hit a couple off line here and there, but I didn’t make many mistakes with the irons.”
“And even the long irons, today, you know, I hit a 2-iron into 16, because I played it fairly defensive, I played it smart. I didn’t want to put myself in any bad position. And that 2-iron was a great high draw. A 2-iron it’s not that easy, but I did it. And those things, they gain, subconsciously a lot of confidence. And the iron play was very, very solid this week.”
Kaymer’s iron play, putting, and confidence all led to a dominating performance at the 114th U.S. Open.