Martin Kaymer didn't need another round of 65; he just needed to hold on to the five-stroke lead with which he entered Sunday's final round. But simply holding on doesn't suit Kaymer, as he shot a final round of one-under 69 to win the 2014 U.S. Open by eight strokes at Pinehurst No. 2.
The following tweet from ESPN's SportsCenter summed up Kaymer's victory:
Martin Kaymer wins the U.S. Open! Kaymer dominates the field to finish at -9, his 2nd career major championship. pic.twitter.com/XIygsjdcfB— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 15, 2014
Kaymer's dominance through the tournament's first few days allowed him to cruise to victory, but he never took his foot off the gas. He carded four birdies to three bogeys on Day 4 to move eight shots clear of second-place finishers Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton.
Here's a look at the final leaderboard:
To say that Kaymer entered Sunday in the driver's seat would be quite an understatement. After breaking a U.S. Open record with a score of 130 through the tournament's opening two rounds, a two-over score on Saturday still had him nursing a massive lead.
Entering Sunday, Fowler and Compton—tied for second entering the day—were five strokes back and well within position to make a run at the lead if Kaymer were to struggle out of the gates.
He wasn't keen on doing so.
Kaymer made a big statement early on by birdieing the par-four third hole, giving him a comfortable six-stroke lead, as Fowler and Compton couldn't birdie the early holes.
The closest anyone got to Kaymer was Compton after he birdied the eighth to go four under, as Kaymer bogeyed No. 7 to drop him to eight-under. Compton was then four strokes back but would drop a stroke on the ninth to lose momentum.
Meanwhile, Kaymer answered back with a birdie on the par-three ninth to move to nine-under and six shots ahead of Compton and the field.
Compton soon faded with three bogeys in five holes on the back nine. Fowler stuck around at two- to three-under for much of the final round, but that was as close as anyone could get, as scores below par were becoming nearly extinct.
Compton became one of the stories of the U.S. Open after overcoming two heart transplants and competing late on into Sunday. He finished as one of just three players under par, and per ESPN's Gene Wojciechowski, he was even receiving some cheers from media members:
No cheering in the press box. Unless it's for Erik Compton. Well done, sir.— Gene Wojciechowski (@GenoEspn) June 15, 2014
As those playing around him were failing to make up strokes, Kaymer's score was staying steady and way clear of the rest of the leaderboard. Birdies on holes No. 13 and 14 brought his total to 10-under par.
At that point, well, the PGA Tour said it best:
Kaymer's incredible golf over the weekend simply made it impossible for anyone else to be in contention late, but the close-knit scores after Kaymer suggested that plenty of notable golfers still played well. For instance, star golfer Adam Scott was happy with how he played but added it just wasn't enough, per the U.S. Open:
"I wish I would have been closer. I'm playing some of the best golf of my life, but winning majors is hard." World No. 1 Adam Scott #USOpen— U.S. Open (USGA) (@usopengolf) June 15, 2014
Scott was two-over for the tournament, and that would have been awfully close to the lead had Kaymer not been around, but the problem was, Kaymer was very much around and in top form.
After two rounds of 65 before moving day even came, the field simply had to cross its fingers and hope for Kaymer to collapse.
He showed no signs of that. While he was just barely over par on Saturday at two-over 72, he made no doubt of his victory on Sunday by playing the best round of golf out of anyone and closing the title in resounding fashion. Even when he would tee off poorly, Kaymer would answer back by saving par or making up for a bogey with a birdie on the next hole.
Unfortunately, though, no real competition on the back nine Sunday left many bored with the action, including one Donald J. Trump:
I'd bet the horrible look of Pinehurst translates into poor television ratings. This is not what golf is about!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2014
Those sorts of negative reactions from golf viewers on Sunday spurred CBS' Peter Kostis to bring up a double standard, as he wondered how folks would react if it were Tiger Woods dominating:
If Tiger was doing what Kaymer is doing everyone would be going bonkers, but with Martin they say it's a boring tournament. Double standard.— Peter Kostis (@peterjkostis) June 15, 2014
Anyone discounting Kaymer's win at the U.S. Open because of the sheer dominance of it is missing the point. The 29-year-old dominated a Pinehurst No. 2 course that forced all but three of the world's best golfers to above-par scores while he added birdie after birdie.
Not only did he win by a huge margin, but Kaymer also led from start to finish, as Stephanie Wei noted:
Kaymer will become just the 8th player in the 114-year history of the @usopengolf to win wire-to-wire.— Stephanie Wei (@StephanieWei) June 15, 2014
Although he's far from a mainstay in major tournaments, Kaymer has already solidified his place as one of the promising figures in the sport with 10 wins on the European Tour and the 2010 PGA Championship—his first major victory.
Sunday marked his second major, and that allowed the 29-year-old to join elite company, as Golf Channel's Justin Ray noted:
Only 4 European-born players in last century have won multiple majors before turning 30: Kaymer, McIlroy, Ballesteros and Tony Jacklin.— Justin Ray (@JustinRayGC) June 15, 2014
Combining Kaymer's wins at the PGA Championship and U.S. Open with Bernhard Langer's Masters wins, Kaymer quipped that all he needs is a British Open in order to have a German champ in all four majors, per Golf Digest:
Martin Kaymer, about Bernhard Langer's two Masters wins: "We have almost a German Gran Slam. Almost. There's only a British Open missing."— Golf Digest (@GolfDigestMag) June 15, 2014
However, after what unfolded this weekend at Pinehurst, it's awfully hard to see anyone discrediting Kaymer's ability to not just contend, but also convincingly win at the sport's biggest events. And that's not even mentioning his wire-to-wire victory at the Players Championship earlier in 2014.
Will Kaymer win another major in 2014?
After this huge victory, Kaymer will have some time to celebrate before getting ready for the British Open from July 17 to July 20, where his best result is seventh place in 2010.
Kaymer has been around for some time but needed a coming-out party to prove to the golf world that he's a force to be reckoned with in the major tournament circuit from now on. That time has now come.
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