Monday, 16 June 2014
Martin Kaymer  (Getty Images)
Martin Kaymer (Getty Images)

Martin Kaymer completed his second wire-to-wire win in the space of five weeks with an utterly dominant display in the US Open Championship at Pinehurst No.2.

Looking to become the first German player to win the title - although the fourth European in the last five years after Ryder Cup team-mates Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose - Kaymer took a five shot lead into the final round and was never in danger of being caught.

The 29 year old carded a closing 69 to finish nine under par and eight shots clear of American duo Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton, becoming the eighth player in US Open history to lead outright after every round after Walter Hagen (1914), James Barnes (1921), Ben Hogan (1953), Tony Jacklin (1970), Tiger Woods (2000, 2002) and McIlroy (2011).

Successive rounds of 65 - the lowest in a US Open at Pinehurst - meant Kaymer had equalled the lowest halfway total in Major Championship history, as well as eclipsing the US Open record of 131 set by Rory McIlroy at Congressional in 2011.

His six-shot halfway lead also matched the championship record shared by Tiger Woods (2000) and McIlroy (2011), while he joined McIlroy in becoming the only players to reach double digits under par in the first two rounds.

A third round of 72 in testing conditions succeeded in only reducing his lead by a single shot and no-one got within four in a final round which may have lacked drama, but which succeeded in identifying a worthy winner now back on the fringes of the Official World Golf Ranking's top ten after lying outside the top 60 only last month.

Afterwards Kaymer set his sights on winning The Open Championship at Hoylake to complete a 'German Grand Slam' following his dominant triumph in the US Open.

With his friend and mentor Bernhard Langer having won the Masters Tournament twice, The Open is the only Major Championship yet to have been won by a German player.

"We almost have the German Grand Slam - it's only The Open missing," Kaymer joked.

"Winning the PGA, winning this one now, I hope it will make Bernhard proud. I'm sure it will make all Germany proud.

"To win the Masters is a huge thing and that's why I needed to adjust a few things in my swing to play better there.

"I did not make many mistakes the last two wins - especially this week. I played very solid the first two days and that gave me a good cushion for today."

With LPGA players watching from inside the ropes ahead of the US Women's Open getting under way on Thursday - the first time they have been held back to back on the same course - Kaymer never looked like becoming the first player since Mike Brady in 1919 to relinquish a five shot lead after 54 holes.

The tee on the par four third had been brought forward to tempt players into driving the green and Kaymer did precisely that, two-putting from long range for birdie to move to nine under par.

A bogey on the seventh saw Kaymer's lead reduced to four shots after American Erik Compton picked up his second birdie of the day on the eighth, but the 34 year old promptly bogeyed the ninth after failing to get up and down from a greenside bunker.

Kaymer made no such mistake with a superb tee shot setting up a birdie from five feet, but after Compton reduced the gap once more on the par five tenth and Kaymer took six on the same hole after thinning his third over the green, Compton released the pressure with a bogey on the 11th.

A birdie on the 13th meant Kaymer was seven clear with five holes to play but the former World Number One was heeding McIlroy's advice to keep his feet to the floor, rolling in another long putt on the 14th to extend his lead once more.

It was now just a matter of completing the formalities of a second Major title, his first having come by beating Bubba Watson in a play-off for the 2010 US PGA Championship at Whistling Straits.

Six months later he lost in the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship to Luke Donald, but had the consolation of moving to World Number One - a position he held for eight weeks.

Prompted partly by a fourth straight missed cut in the Masters Tournament in April that year, Kaymer began working on his swing to enable him to hit a draw as well as his usual fade - a process which meant he slid gradually down the Official World Golf Ranking.

By the time of The Ryder Cup in September 2012, the 29 year old admitted he would not have picked himself for the team, but he clung on to the last automatic qualifying place.

Faced with two putts from long range on the 18th to beat Steve Stricker and ensure Europe retained the trophy, Kaymer charged his birdie attempt seven feet past the hole. What happened next crowned the 'Miracle at Medinah' - a moment Kaymer admitted this week could have ruined his career if it had gone the wrong way.

Despite such a confidence boost, Kaymer failed to win on The European Tour for the second year in succession in 2013 and was down at World Number 61 when he arrived at Sawgrass last month for The Players Championship.

A first round 63 equalled the course record and propelled him to a dramatic victory eventually secured in near-darkness following a 90-minute weather delay in the final round. 

 

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