Kaymer captures US Open with stunning display at Pinehurst
Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements
MARTIN KAYMER produced one of the greatest performances of the modern era, holing a 12-foot putt on the final green to win the US Open by eight shots.
He is not the first golfer to win a major and then decide to rebuild his swing. But Kaymer is one of the first to be become a multiple major champion.
The German, who already had the 2010 US PGA Championship to his name, romped to victory at Pinehurst No 2. His final round of 69 gave him a four round total of 271, nine under par - it was a score that simply wasn't meant to happen on this golf course, but nobody told the German. Ironically, Kaymer changed his swing to give him a chance of winning at Augusta. But he will settle for this, and he must fancy his chances of becoming a three-time major winner when The Open Championship is played at Royal Liverpool next month.
Kaymer swung the club magnificently all week. He putted beautifully and got up and down almost every time he missed the greens. He played like a colossus. When he dropped a shot late on he was clearly furious with himself - it seemed like a personal affront.
And he won the hard way, leading from first to last. When you record two 65s to get your US Open challenge under way, there has to be only one way to go after that - backwards. He may not have looked like it, but the 29-year-old German put himself under huge pressure after his sensational start at Pinehurst No 2.
The jury is still out on the course redesign, but there can be no questioning the fact that Kaymer now has what it takes to become one of the greats of the game.
He started the final round five shots clear of Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton and, at eight under par, was on course to shoot a record 72-hole total on one of the most fiendishly difficult courses on the US Open rota.
Kaymer knew that he would be dropping shots, but he also knew that everybody else would be doing the same thing, and was safe in the knowledge that nobody would be emerging from the pack with a final round of 63.
It didn't take long for the course to get on top, with only a handful of players managing to get into red figures for the day. And guess who was one of them?
What Kaymer needed was an early birdie to settle his nerves, and it came on the third. He dropped a shot at the seventh but picked up another birdie to reach the turn at nine under par, still five clear. Fowler took 37 blows on the front nine, a double-bogey six at the fourth delivering a brutal blow to his hopes.
Erik Compton was providing the most serious challenge to Kaymer but for every step forward he took, there was a backward one. He birdied the fifth, but gave it back at the seventh. He birdied the eighth but had another bogey at the ninth. A birdie at the 10th was followed, almost inevitably, by another dropped shot. At three under par he trailed by six until the German dropped a shot at the 10th.
The only other player below par was Dustin Johnson, at two under. When Compton let another shot dribble away at the 12th, he was level with Johnson and Kaymer was seven ahead when he birdied the 13th. It was as if he was out for a friendly knock on a Sunday afternoon. Pressure? What pressure?
Seven became eight with another birdie, this time at the 14th. And that is how it finished. Fowler and Compton, one one under, were the only other players to break par.
For Compton it represented a special moment. "Perhaps now I will simply be known as a golfer, rather than somebody who has had two heart transplants. I am thrilled with what I have achieved."
Erik, you will be known as a golf who has a huge heart.
Keegan Bradley will rue his third round of 76. After opening with a pair of 69s, he rounded off his week with a 67, but the damage inflicted on Saturday meant he finished one 281, one over par. Jason Day continues his wonderful form in majors, a 68 leaving him tied with Bradley.
The tournament was also notable because it saw the last performance as an amateur by Matthew Fitzpatrick, of England. Winner of last year's US Amateur championship, he finished as the leading amateur in The Open Championship at Muirfield and here at Pinehurst, where he was the only amateur to make the cut. He now heads to the Irish Open, which will be his first event as a professional. At just 19 years of age, he has the world at his feet. Thankfully, he is a level-headed young man and if the game he loves jumps up and bites him he will take it all in his stride. His final round as an amateur was a 69 that left him 11 over for the tournament.
Derek Clements is a sports journalist with a particular passion for golf with over 12 years of experience covering golf and other sports including Chief Sub-Editor on the sports desk of The Sunday Times. To contact Derek email direct via [email protected]
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