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Kaymer romps to 2014 U.S. Open victory

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“Turn out the lights; the party’s over.”

– Johnny Miller, 6:37 p.m.

Miller made that remark after Martin Kaymer holed a birdie putt on the short par-4 13th on Sunday. In the end, it turned out that the party was over on Thursday evening, when Kaymer signed for the first of two consecutive five-under par rounds of 65 at Pinehurst No. 2. His closing rounds of 72 and 69 were good for a 9-under par score of 271 and an 8-stroke victory over Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton.

The German turned in an absolutely masterful performance, as domineering as Rory McIlroy’s U.S. Open and PGA Championship triumphs in 2011 and 2012. In an event crafted to inflict maximum suffering on the scorecards of the best golfers in the world, Kaymer never so much as threatened the dreaded “other” that wreaks havoc on so many each year. He made only nine bogeys for the week against 16 birdies and an eagle, making quality swing after quality swing, particularly with his driver and long irons.

Kaymer added a Father’s Day victory to his triumph at The Players Championship on Mother’s Day a month ago. Kaymer’s mother, Rina, passed away in 2008 but his father Horst was said to be watching at home.

After a routine par on the easy first hole Sunday, Kaymer drained a 9-foot par putt on the difficult par-4 second, showing no signs of caving to major championship pressure. There were other slight struggles, but he nonetheless followed one of the U.S. Open’s main principles: avoid big numbers. He hit two consecutive poor shots around the green at No. 10, a par-5, but managed to save bogey. He also balanced out his miscues with just enough quality shots—birdies at Nos. 3, 5 and 9, and an exclamation point at No. 13—to keep the field at bay.

On a course whose green complexes encourage a variety of shots, Kaymer wielded his putter almost exclusively, even at times when a chip or pitch shot seemed the most sensible option. The simple approach to short game shots served Kaymer well all week, as he hit a number of excellent long putts, saving pars where many competitors struggled to bogeys and worse.

Rickie Fowler found himself in the final group with Kaymer Sunday, but failed to mount a charge. He hit a suspect approach short of the first green but canned a 12-foot par putt to establish some momentum. But a comedy of errors led to a double-bogey at the par-4 fourth, after which Fowler was a decided backup voice to Kaymer’s concertmaster status.

American fans and golf media types alike were deeply interested on seeing how Erik Compton, a two-time heart transplant recipient, would play in his first-ever major championship Sunday (in his second major championship start). Compton got away with a few loose swings while parring the first three holes, but a birdie on the par-5 fifth brought him within five shots of Kaymer. But bogeys at Nos. 7 and 9 more than offset the birdies he did make. But his final-round score of 72 earned him a tie for second place with Fowler and an invite to the 2015 Masters.

“It was great to prove to the world that I’m not just a guy with two heart transplants,” Compton said after the round.

Though Sunday brought considerably less drama than most U.S. Opens, there is little denying that the restored Pinehurst No. 2 did its job very well, ultimately identifying the best player in the field. Only three players broke par for the week.

The USGA set up Pinehurst for drama on Sunday, with two drivable par fours and a number of accessible hole locations. For an event where the final round is so often a brutal struggle for survival, perhaps 2014 will be seen as the beginning of a new philosophy from the USGA on championship course setup. There were no final-round scores of 80 or higher, a testament to the quality and consistency of the challenge on offer from the USGA.

It was yet another disappointing U.S. Open week for Phil Mickelson, who came into the week with as much pressure to win as any player has faced. He shot a final-round 72 to finish tied for 28th at 7-over. His pursuit of a career Grand Slam will have to wait until 2015, when the U.S. Open visits Chambers Bay in Washington.

Another party ended on Sunday. The golf broadcast team at NBC deserves considerable commendation for 20 years of excellent coverage of the U.S. Open. Dan Hicks and Johnny Miller signed off for the last time for at least a dozen years, because last August the USGA signed a deal with Fox Sports to carry all USGA event television coverage starting in 2015.

Johnny Miller has been at times a polarizing media figure among golf fans because of his tendency toward frank commentary, which has to my mind always felt appropriate in such a grueling tournament. I will miss him very much. When Joe Buck and Greg Norman sign on for the first time next June, the golf world will be able to decide whether it is an improvement.

But 2014 belongs to Martin Kaymer, whose 72-hole performance will be seen as one of the strongest in a long, long time.

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Tim grew up outside of Hartford, Conn., playing most of his formative golf at Hop Meadow Country Club in the town of Simsbury. He played golf for four years at Washington & Lee University (Division-III) and now lives in Pawleys Island, S.C., and works in nearby Myrtle Beach in advertising. He's not too bad on Bermuda greens, for a Yankee. A lifelong golf addict, he cares about all facets of the game of golf, from equipment to course architecture to PGA Tour news to his own streaky short game.

13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. scott

    Jun 17, 2014 at 8:56 am

    total class act.

  2. Rich

    Jun 16, 2014 at 9:38 am

    What a dominant display. Kaymer is a machine. Just goes to show you don’t need a $400 Scotty Cameron to putt well. Off the rack base model ping anser does the job just as well thanks. Love it!

    • bradford

      Jun 16, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      doesn’t matter what you putt with as long as you love it…

  3. bradford

    Jun 16, 2014 at 7:35 am

    Won’t miss Miller in the least…and Dan will surely get picked up by any smart new golf broadcast.

  4. barry

    Jun 16, 2014 at 7:11 am

    I want to see the fantasy match- Tiger Woods 2000 pebble beach vs martin kaymer 2014 pinehurst no. 2-Kaymer would win on the 4th extra hole sudden death after the full 18 hole play-off!!!!

  5. B

    Jun 16, 2014 at 2:57 am

    A master class in ball striking and putting from Martin. Congrats!

  6. MHendon

    Jun 16, 2014 at 1:17 am

    I thought for sure after the players championship win he’d get a major bag sponsor. Certainly he’ll get one now.

    • Jim

      Jun 16, 2014 at 9:58 am

      Probably holding off for the right deal, as he will have it for a few years probably.

  7. Momo

    Jun 16, 2014 at 12:10 am

    This guy can go toe to toe with anyone.

  8. Eldrick Woods, Florida

    Jun 15, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    hes on fire

  9. Norm Platt

    Jun 15, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    A notable parting shot from Johnny Miller: all the greens should be redone at Pinehurst number two. He was referring to how a good shot, depending on the bounce could end of anywhere . Plus he was lamenting how the women might be challenged next week. I like the changes to the waste areas but the greens were meant to have some grass because back when this course was designed they were meant for green speeds in the 7-8 range at the most. Not 12 or 13 you saw on tv. I didn’t mind Miller the least. He will be missed.

    • B

      Jun 16, 2014 at 2:59 am

      They’ll just water it a bit more. And the course is obviously going to play shorter for the women. The ladies will be fine. They play the British one in same, if not drier, conditions, so they’ll be fine.

    • Oldplayer

      Jun 18, 2014 at 5:51 pm

      Agree. Miller’s commentary is always frank and to the point. He also has the golfing pedigree to give authority to his opinions. I hope he gets another gig. His insight and approach to the game should be given air time; not to mention his wit.
      I still remember the comment when Phil made double on the last when he hit driver and allowed Ogilvy to win his open. Miller said about hitting the driver “what was he doing??? He doesn’t have to ride down the last on a white charger” Classic and brutal in it’s honesty.

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