US Open 2014: The Biggest Takeaways from Pinehurst
The 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 created a great deal of discussion in the months leading up to it, a lot of that because of how the men were going to be the front end of a doubleheader with the women's Open following it the next week.
And while Martin Kaymer blew the field away in the first two days with his back-to-back rounds of 65, there were still plenty of storylines that will be remembered for a long time.
Stories like Kaymer's dominating performance, Erik Compton's gutsy showing and another disappointing week for Phil Mickelson.
Here's a list of five of the biggest takeaways from a memorable week in Pinehurst.
Pinehurst Is a Winner
The restoration of Pinehurst's famed No. 2 course was a topic of great discussion prior to this week's U.S. Open. There were concerns about the restoration done by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw and how it would handle a major championship.
Those concerns were answered very positively. Three players finished the Open under par. One of those, of course, played some other game, as Martin Kaymer was 10 under par after two days.
The rest of the field got around the course a little better than other Opens, but it certainly was a fair test,
Brown, which is the new green, looked pretty nice on TV. Pinehurst took out 35 acres of rough as well as all irrigation heads outside of those in the middle of fairway.
Look for the U.S. Open to be back sooner rather than later.
Time to Look at Mickelson Differently?
Can we agree Phil Mickelson is not the player he once was?
In this instance, statistics and numbers don't lie.
Mickelson hasn't played well, hasn't performed well and, at times, hasn't resembled the man who has 43 PGA Tour wins to his credit. He's not driving the ball well, he's not putting well, his final-round scoring average is not very good and, well, you get the idea.
Yes, he won the British Open last year, but since then he seems to be searching for answers that are hidden somewhere.
Mickelson celebrates his 44th birthday on Monday, and time is starting to work against him.
Martin Kaymer Is for Real
His wire-to-wire victory last month in the Players Championship alerted the golf world that this former No. 1 player in the world was getting back to the form he had in 2011.
And when he followed that up with an even more dominating performance on Pinehurst No. 2, he made a very important statement.
Even though he entered the week ranked 28th in the world, becoming the first German to win the U.S. Open signaled to all who would listen that he's the best player in the world right now, regardless of the Official World Golf Rankings.
Remembering how he managed his game, recovered from wayward shots and putted superbly on Pinehurst's fast greens will be something not soon forgotten.
Erik Compton Is Amazing
Erik Compton would very much like to be known for his golfing ability and prowess.
And he did nothing to hurt that wish with how he played this week in the U.S. Open.
In only his second appearance in a major championship, Compton finished T-2 with Rickie Fowler, eight shots behind champion Martin Kaymer.
He made clutch shots down the stretch Sunday, and with his performance, he earned his first invitation to the Masters in April 2015.
Had Compton somehow been able to run Kaymer down and win, it would have been the sports story of the year.
Having a guy who has had two heart transplants win a major title is special. But even though he didn't win, it was still a special performance that will long be remembered.
Rickie Fowler's Coming-out Party?
Rickie Fowler's arrival on the PGA Tour in 2010 was heralded with great hype and a lot of flourish from his clothing.
Alas, he's not really lived up to all of that hype, having won just one tournament to this point.
But he played well at the Masters in April, finishing tied for fifth, and he followed that up with a T-2 at Pinehurst No. 2.
Golf fans everywhere, especially younger ones, would love to have Fowler come on and become a major champion.
Perhaps his performance is an indication of bigger and better things to come.