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To say Germany’s Martin Kaymer went wire-to-wire to win the 2014 US Open Championship is like saying Mike Tyson won fights, or Joe Montana won Super Bowls. Martin Kaymer dominated, knocked out, routed the field in every round of play over the Pinehurst No.2 golf course, never leaving even a hint of hope that any of the other elite golfers had a prayer. With his third sub-par round of the tournament on Sunday, Kaymer finished with a 72-hole total of 271—9-under par for the championship–outdistancing second-place finishers Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton by eight strokes.
The clock-cleaning began on Thursday, when Kaymer fired a 5-under 65, then matched that score on Friday in racing out to a six-shot lead before the weekend even started. Those first two days, he said, were the key to his dominating performance, “I played really, really well on Thursday and Friday, and that gave me a really nice cushion” adding, however, that cushion did nothing to ease the pressure of Sunday’s final round, “I said to (his caddie) Craig that this round will be very, very difficult, probably the toughest round we ever played because of the expectations that you have on yourself, that all the other people have.” To put things in perspective, Kaymer’s 271 total for the four days is the second lowest in US Open Championship history (Rory McIlroy had 268 in 2011). His 8-stroke victory was the fourth-largest in the history of the event, and he is the eighth player in US Open History to lead after every round without a tie. The 29-year-old from Mettmann, Germany has also become the first German player, and the first player from continental Europe to win the US Open Championship.
Sunday began with a 5-shot lead for Kaymer, and the closest anyone came for the rest of the afternoon was four. Several players had chances to cut into the lead, but none could really put any more pressure on Kaymer than he put on himself. He said on Saturday that his plan was not to “defend” his lead, but to go out and stay aggressive. He did. Throughout the final round, it seemed to those watching that whenever one of his chasers made birdie, Kaymer would respond. On the flip-side, whenever Kaymer would make bogey, his pursuers would mysteriously drop a stroke and let him breathe.
The most interesting battle of the day was for second place between Fowler and Compton. Even though they were tied coming into the final round, they played in different groups, with Fowler getting a front row seat to Kaymer’s exhibition, paired with the champion for the last 18 on Sunday. “It was fun playing alongside of him, and watching how he controlled himself throughout the day,” said Fowler, “he’s a very deserving champion this week.”
Martin Kaymer wire-to-wire win at the US Open Championship should come as no surprise. Just a month ago, against the best players in the world at the Players Championship, Kaymer also led through all four rounds. With his only other win on tour coming at the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, Martin Kaymer is becoming the man to beat on the big stage. His next appointment is a month away, at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake, England for the British Open Championship.
Golf Shots is a daily series which provides analysis and commentary on the PGA tour and golf-related topics all year long.
Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky