Kaymer owns U.S. Open to return to the ranks of golf’s elite

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Kaymer owns U.S. Open to return to the ranks of golf’s elite

Martin Kaymer returned to the elite of golf with a U.S. Open victory that ranks among the best ever.

A forgotten star for two years while building a complete game, Kaymer turned the toughest test of golf into a runaway at Pinehurst No. 2 on Sunday to become only the seventh wire-to-wire winner in 114 years of the U.S. Open.

Kaymer closed with a 1-under 69 - the only player from the last eight groups to break par - for an eight-shot victory over Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton, the two-time heart transplant recipient and only player to even remotely challenge the 29-year-old German.

So dominant was Kaymer that no one got closer than four shots over the final 48 holes.

Only a late bogey kept Kaymer from joining Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy as the only players to finish a U.S. Open at double digits under par. He made a 15-foot par putt on the 18th hole, dropping his putter as the ball fell into the center of the cup, just like so many other putts this week.

“No one was catching Kaymer this week,” Compton said, who closed with a 72 to earn earned a trip to the Masters next April. “I was playing for second. I think we all were playing for second.’’

This U.S. Open really ended on Friday.

Kaymer set the U.S. Open record with back-to-back rounds of 65 to set the pace at 10-under 130. He began Sunday with a five-shot lead, and after a 10-foot par save on the second hole, Kaymer belted a driver on the 313-yard third hole. The ball landed on the front of the green and rolled to the back, setting up a two-putt birdie.

“He kind of killed the event in the first two days,’’ said Henrik Stenson. “He went out and shot two 65s and left everyone in the dust.”

Fowler, in the final group of a major for the first time, fell back quickly on the fourth hole. He sent his third shot from a sandy path over the green and into some pine trees and had to make a 25-foot putt just to escape with double bogey. Fowler played even par the rest of the way for a 72.

Compton birdied the eighth hole and got within four shots until he took bogey on the par-3 ninth, and Kaymer followed with an 8-iron to 4 feet for birdie.

Kaymer finished at 9-under 271, the second-lowest score in U.S. Open history next to McIlroy’s 268 at Congressional in 2011.

He won his second major after the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in a three-man playoff, but this one wasn’t close.

“Martin was playing his own tournament,’’ Fowler said.

Kaymer joined Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els, Woods and McIlroy as the only players to win two majors and be No. 1 in the world before turning 30 since the world ranking began in 1986. He is the fourth European in the last five years to win the U.S. Open, after Europeans had gone 40 years without this title.

It’s a rebirth for Kaymer, who reached No. 1 in the world in February 2011, only to believe that he needed a more rounded game. His preferred shot was a fade. Kaymer spent two hard years, a lot of lonely hours on the range in Germany and his home in Scottsdale, Arizona.

He fell as low as No. 63 in the world until going wire-to-wire (with ties) at The Players Championship, considered the strongest and deepest field in golf.

But the big payoff came at Pinehurst No. 2.

“I didn’t make many mistakes the last two wins that I had in America - especially this week,’’ said Kaymer, who moves to No. 11 in the world.

Kaymer has as many majors as Bernhard Langer, the two-time Masters champion and one of his mentors.

AP



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