• US Open

Kaymer rewrites the history books at Pinehurst

Alex Perry
June 15, 2014
Martin Kaymer and caddie Craig Connelly share a fist-bump at nine - one of many on the final day of the US Open © Getty Images

It was a clinic in how to win a major. It was Tiger Woods in his pomp. It was, quite simply, a joy to watch.

Martin Kaymer, six clear at the start of final round of the 2014 US Open, demonstrated a flawless combination of fairway-splitting drives, pin-seeking irons and an exquisite touch around the greens.

He won by eight.

Before Sunday, just one player had won two major championships, 10 European Tour titles and been world No.1 before the age of 30. That man was Seve Ballesteros. Kaymer, 29 for another six months, makes it two.

This was one that got away from the late, great Ballesteros, though, leaving Kaymer to become the first player from continental Europe to lift America's national championship.

The stats continue to pour from every angle. Kaymer becomes just the third player alongside Woods and Rory McIlroy to win a major wire-to-wire in the past three decades. He and McIlroy are also the only active players under the age of 35 with multiple major victories.

Amateur glory for Matt

Matt Fitzpatrick had a week to remember at Pinehurst © Getty Images
  • Englishman Matt Fitzpatrick, in his final round as an amateur, became the first player since Bobby Jones in 1930 to hold the low amateur medals for the Open Championship and US Open at the same time.
  • "What a week," he told Sky Sports following his round.
  • "Some of the names I've played with this week - Rory McIlroy, Phil Mickelson, Justin Rose … It doesn't get much better than that."

Think of a stat. Kaymer almost definitely matched it this week.

History was both for and against the German going into the final round. On one hand, only six players have ever led a major by five shots after 54 holes and gone on to lose - and only one was at the US Open, some 95 years ago.

On the other hand, Pinehurst has a habit of biting back. In 2005, the last time this competition was held on the lethal No.2 track, three of the four players in the final two groups failed to break 80.

All the talk at the start of the day was, naturally, could Kaymer hold his nerve? The answer was answered after just one hole. Two flush irons to the middle of the green and a routine two-putt suggested that this was never going to slip from his grasp.

Even at the very next hole, when Kaymer's approach flew off the back of the green, his putting was - once again - nothing short of perfection.

But if there was any glimmer of hope for his rivals that his long game was wobbling, a stunning drive to the middle of the green at the par-4 third set up a 10-foot eagle putt that just slid wide. But his first birdie of the day saw the lead extended from closest rivals Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton for the first time.

For Fowler, playing in the final group on the last day of a major championship for the first time in his relatively short career, his challenge was to end soon after. A wayward drive at the fourth was followed inexplicably by not one but two shanked irons. The second left him snookered behind a tree and the young American needed to summon every last piece of his magical short game to salvage double-bogey.

Ears pricked briefly at the seventh when Kaymer carded a bogey at almost exactly the same time Compton was notching a birdie at eight to cut the lead to four. It didn't last long. For Compton, who has had two heart transplants in his lifetime, the back-nine proved to be a struggle and his last few holes were all about making sure he earned a spot at next year's Masters.

He did just that. And as Fowler's birdie putt at 18 fell just short, the race for second place ended up as a tie at one-under par between the two Americans - the only other players to finish under par for the championship.

Kaymer's last few holes were merely a procession, and, as the crowd around Pinehurst's 18th fell silent, he rattled in a birdie putt for a one-under par 69 which meant he was the only player in the final eight groups to play the final round under par.

The other 15 were a combined 52-over par.

That's just how good he was this week - four days over which Kaymer took the US Open history book and, like the field, tore it apart.

As he took to the microphone for his traditional winner's speech, Kaymer thanked the American crowd for backing him throughout the week.

"It's been hard, but the fans at Sawgrass and here have been very fair," he said. "I knew it would be difficult playing with Rickie today, he's a very aggressive player and he can make a lot of birdies. But overall it was a very nice week, a very nice day, and I give a lot of credit to the fans for being so fair.

"I didn't make many mistakes at Sawgrass or especially here. I played very solid for the first two days and it gave me a nice cushion for the weekend, and to shoot only one over at the weekend was very good. I was very happy with the way I kept it together yesterday, and it gave me a good cushion for today."

Kaymer, now a winner on both Mother's Day and Father's Day this year having picked up the Players Championship last month, added: "Father's Day in Germany was actually two or three weeks ago and I didn't get anything for my father then, so maybe this can make up for it!"

That might just do it, Martin.

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Alex Perry is assistant editor of ESPN.co.uk. Follow him on Twitter.

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