Martin Kaymer dismantled the storied Pinehurst No. 2 layout with a 65-65 start, then put it on cruise control for an eight-shot U.S. Open win that was never, ever in doubt. The weekend's utter lack of drama, despite the best efforts of the NBC crew in its U.S. Open swan song, shouldn't detract from what Kaymer accomplished in winning his second career major and adding the Open to last month's Players Championship win in what is becoming an impressive resume for the 29-year-old. Had Tiger Woods done what Kaymer did this weekend, there would have been hosannas from the rooftops. He was that dominant.
Kaymer had ascended to the top spot in the World Golf Ranking early in 2011, when he was the reigning PGA Championship winner. But he was ill-prepared for his stint at the top, and a round of swing changes saw Kaymer plummet in the rankings and disappear from leaderboards. Kaymer's clinching putt at the 2012 Ryder Cup — where he had been a non-factor — provided a faint echo of former greatness and seemed to spark a resurgence. Flash forward to today, and Kaymer possesses two of golf's most prestigious trophies, winning the Players and U.S. Open in back-to-back months.
"I think this year he had been trending in the right direction, and then broke through at the Players again, which I think was huge for him, huge for his confidence," said Rory McIlroy, who finished tied for 23rd, 15 shots back. "Because he's a hard worker and it's always great to see your work paying off. He saw that and then he sort of continued it since. ... So good to see him back where he belongs. He's a really talented guy and a really good guy and obviously a great player."
Here are some key numbers from Kaymer's weekend cruise.
International players have now won eight of the last 11 U.S. Opens. Kaymer joins Retief Goosen (2004), Michael Campbell (2005), Geoff Ogilvy (2006), Angel Cabrera (2007), Graeme McDowell (2010), Rory McIlroy (2011) and Justin Rose (2013).
Kaymer becomes the first player to win the Players Championship and the U.S. Open in the same season. Only seven others — Lee Trevino, Jerry Pate, Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd, Tom Kite, Lee Janzen and Tiger Woods — have won both in their careers. Kaymer won the Players on Mother's Day and completed his wire-to-wire U.S. Open win on Father's Day. Wonder what he has in store for Grandparents Day.
Only four players — Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Kaymer — have won a major, a Players Championship and a World Golf Championship in their careers. Can you say Big Four?
Anyone searching for compelling storylines during a drama-free weekend didn't have to look far down the leaderboard. Erik Compton, who finished tied for second with Rickie Fowler, is perhaps the Tour's pre-eminent profile in courage. Compton is on his third heart, having survived two heart transplants, and he played spectacularly well in only his second major championship appearance. "I finally had that feeling of putting myself on the map,” Compton said. “I don't have anything to really prove to anybody anymore. If I never played golf again for the rest of my life, I think that I have made my mark in this game."
Phil Mickelson was the story entering this tournament, as he was attempting to complete the career Grand Slam at the site of his first of a record six U.S. Open runner-up finishes. But he was never a factor, finishing tied for 29th. He leaves Pinehurst undaunted. "I believe in the next five years I'm going to have three or four really good chances, and I do believe I will get it," Mickelson said. "I'm not upset or disappointed, I will have more chances. And right now, given the way I have been playing heading into this tournament, it was really a long shot."