2014 U.S. Open: Kaymer wins it from start to finish

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

PINEHURST, N.C. – Martin Kaymer became the first German-born golfer to win the U.S. Open as his 1-under par 69 performance put the finishing touches on a 72-hole dominance of the field in winning the second major championship of his career on the No. 2 course at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club on Sunday.

In the end, it was one man playing on a classic golf course, finishing eight strokes better than the other 155 who battled it out for positions in a four-day tournament that took place on the famed Donald Ross layout.

“I played very solid the first two days and that gave me a very nice cushion for the weekend,” Kaymer said after posing with the trophy for nearly an hour after it was handed to him.

“But to shoot only 1-over par in Pinehurst on Saturday and Sunday is good. The way I played, I was very happy the way I kept it together yesterday. And that gave me a good cushion for today.”

Kaymer became the eighth player in U.S. Open history to win start-to-finish without ties, joining Walter Hagen (1914), James Barnes (1921), Ben Hogan (1953), Tony Jacklin (1970), Tiger Woods (2000, 2002) and Rory McIlroy (2011).

Not a stranger to winning after holding the 54-hole lead, his win at Pinehurst was the sixth of seven occasions when he’s played in the final group on Sunday on both the PGA Tour and European Tours, including his 2014 Players Championship win.

How dominating was Kaymer’s precision in hitting fairways and greens?

His 72-hole total of 271 was the second-lowest score in U.S. Open history next to Rory McIlroy’s 268 at the 2011 U.S. Open at Congressional.

Kaymer ended the tournament hitting 43 of 56 fairways (77%), 45 of 72 greens (63%), making 110 total putts (1.53 avg) and driving the ball an average of just over 305 yards.

When he did get in trouble off the tee, his shot-making ability and skill put in him position to score no worse than a bogey and included impressive work in making recovery shots from greenside bunkers as well, converting on four of the five he was faced with.

Kaymer talked in more detail of the variety of shots he made and how the restored, retro-1907 condition of the course put together by Bill Coore and Ben Crenshaw allowed him to be creative in managing his way along each hole.

“I said to my caddie when we played the practice rounds, I like that you have a lot of options here,” Kaymer said.

“You can take a 3-wood or a rescue. You can chip with a lob wedge, gap wedge or you can putt it. Through any experience from the British Open, I’ve always done fairly well to putt off the green. And I think a bad putt like this is still better than a bad chip, especially with the runoffs. When you hit one fat, you are pretty much in the same spot again. If I hit a bad putt, I still have a chance to make four. My putting within ten feet this week (was) still good. I thought if I could get it within that 10, eight-feet circle, I have a very good chance to save par. You don’t really make worse than bogey, and that’s very important, I think, in Majors.”

Comparing Pinehurst Champions

2014 – Martin Kaymer: 271 (-9)

  • Fairways: 43/56, Rank T-9
  • GIRs: 45/72, Rank T-18
  • Putts: 110, Rank 3rd
  • Birdies and Eagles: 17, Rank 1st

2005 – Michael Campbell: 280 (Even)

  • Fairways: 36/56, Rank T-8
  • GIRs: 41/72, Rank T-16
  • Putts: 113, Rank T-4
  • Birdies and Eagles: 16, Rank 1st

1999 – Payne Stewart: 279 (-1)

  • Fairways: 44/56, Rank T-8
  • GIRs: 41/72, Rank 8th
  • Putts: 111, Rank T-8
  • Birdies and Eagles: 12, Rank T-1