Martin Kaymer went to wire-to-wire and blasted the field to win the 114th U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in Pinehurst, N.C. He finished the week on nine-under-par, 271, to lap the field by a whopping eight shots. Only two other players broke par on the week as Americans Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton shared second place on one-under, 279. Kaymer now has two major championships to his name in his 20s as he adds this week’s title to his 2010 PGA Championship.
Heck, while we’re at it, his only TOUR wins are big money paydays. On top of his PGA title he won the WGC-HSBC Champions in 2011. Earlier that year he was second in the WGC-Match Play. All he did in 2012 was play terrible golf all spring but he still holed the clinching putt for the Europeans at the Ryder Cup. In 2013, he only had three top 10s but two of them were at WGC events. And in 2014 he’s won on Mother’s Day at THE PLAYERS and on Father’s Day at the U.S. Open. That’s two more really, really nice paydays.
Martin Kaymer began his week going where nobody had ever gone at Pinehurst No. 2as he opened with five-under 65 to lead by three. Just to make everyone aware that this was NOT a fluke, he went out on Friday and did it again. So, after never seeing 65 on No. 2, the SAME GUY did it in back-to-back days.
That’s never happened before.
That’s quite amazing especially for a guy who hadn’t had another top 10 in any major since his 2010 PGA title.
As the weekend rolled in and expectations flew through the roof, the German completely ruined everyone’s expectations as he did NOT fall apart on a very challenging Saturday afternoon. He took the crooked numbers out of the way because he made just about everything he looked at over four rounds. It also didn’t hurt that the TOUR’S No. 178th scrambler decided to putt everything that didn’t find the green. #TexasWedgeGermanStyle. His system worked and so did his putter. Entering the week, few would argue whether or not Kaymer could be considered an elite ball striker. His record speaks for itself. But to have the guy who ranked No. 178 in scrambling and No. 122 in total putting just destroy this track was unfathomable.
Making one bogey over the first 36 holes was unfathomable as well.
He only made eight bogeys on the week and didn’t let anyone even pretend that they could overtake his lead. It began as five shots on Sunday and he never looked back as he put it on auto-pilot and cruised home to victory for the second time this season on TOUR. Kaymer also went wire-to-wire (one round T1) at THE PLAYERS back in May.
Kaymer has seen plenty of highs and plenty of lows in the last four years but part of me keeps forgetting that he’s only 29. Not many players since 1970 have won two majors before turning 30 as Dan and the gang told us on NBC Sunday afternoon. He’s one of them. So is John Daly. So is Rory McIlroy. So was Seve Ballesteros and Tom Watson.
For season-long investors who jumped all over a guy who made only $882, 937 last year, he’s been the German Bubba Watson. For the weekly gamer, he was trending in the right direction before his win at THE PLAYERS but he only had played once on TOUR since that May victory so it’s not surprising if he snuck by you this week. He snuck by me because I put too much emphasis on his short-game numbers or lack of them. I felt if No. 2 played firm and fast and the greens wouldn’t hold, he would have struggled to grind out pars. He smartly took his wedge, nine iron, 3-wood, etc. out of the equation when off the green.. What a decision that turned out to be!
With his victory, Kaymer collects $1,620,000, 600 FedExCup points and is exempt into the U.S. Open for the next 10 years. He also is exempt into the other three majors for the next five years. He adds a five-year TOUR exemption as well. #cha-ching
Déjà vu All Over Again?
After winning 31 of 40 tournaments in 2013, the USA has now won 22 of 31 events in 2013-14. Harris English, Jimmy Walker (THREE), Webb Simpson, Ryan Moore, Dustin Johnson, Chris Kirk, Zach Johnson, Patrick Reed (TWO), Scott Stallings, Kevin Stadler, Bubba Watson (TWO), Russell Henley, Chesson Hadley, Matt Every, Matt Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Brendon Todd and Ben Crane have won for the USA.
Adam Scott, Matt Jones, Steven Bowditch, John Senden and Jason Day, all Australians, have cashed five victories. Matsuyama joins Seung-yul Noh as the Asian representatives and Martin Kaymer has been a one-man-gang for Europe with his two massive victories.
S.Y. Noh, Steven Bowditch, Matt Every, Jimmy Walker, Kevin Stadler, Chesson Hadley Matt Jones, Brendon Todd and Matsuyama are the first-time winners this season. There were 12, first-timers in 40 events last year and we’ve had nine in 30 events so far in 2014. #onpace Erik Compton gave it a shot but nobody was catching the German this week.
Only 17 of the 38, 54-hole leaders went on to win last year in full-field, stroke play events. I’m always trying to figure out if this is a trend or not. In 2013-14, 17 of 30 leaders have gone on to win as Kaymer has added to this total TWICE this spring.
Matthew Fitzpatrick was the only amateur to make the cut (T48) so John Goodman remains the last amateur to win (1933). He shot 69 on Sunday and will be turning pro any day now.
Curtis Strange remains the last player to defend his title as 2013 champ Justin Rose fought gallantly but ended up T12.
Kaymer becomes just the seventh player to go wire-to-wire (no ties) in 114 editions. Rory McIlroy was the last to perform this feat at Congressional in 2011.
Only Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott and Kaymer can say they’ve won a major, WGC event and PLAYERS championship. Kaymer, Woods and Mickelson have multiple majors. Adam Scott has the charm and good looks so all is not lost.
Bernhard Langer (Masters, twice) is the only other German to win a major.
Kaymer is the only player in history to win THE PLAYERS and the U.S. Open in the same. #exacta
He is only one of four players that have won THE PLAYERS and ANY major in the same season. Jack Nicklaus (1978 Open), Hal Sutton (1983 PGA) and Tiger Woods (2001 Masters) are the other three.
The last player to win multiple majors in one season was Padraig Harrington in 2008.
The Bubba Slam is also off the tracks as the Masters champ MC.
Remember this for next year: Eight of the last 11 winners of the United States national championship have been foreign born.
Young Guns Versus Prime Time Versus Old Guys
Jimmy Walker (34) started the season out on the right foot for the Prime Time guys and has since added two more wins to lead the FedExCup standings. He has been joined by Ryan Moore (30) in Malaysia, Zach Johnson (37) at Kapalua, Kevin Stadler (33), at WMPO and Bubba Watson (35), joined them at Riviera. Matt Every (30), Steven Bowditch (30) and Matt Jones (33), all first-timers, flew the flag before Watson picked up victory No. 2 of the year at Augusta. Since the first major, Matt Kuchar (37), J.B. Holmes (32), Adam Scott (33) and now Crane, 38, add to the prime-timers trophy case.
Scott Stallings (28), Patrick Reed TWICE (23), Chris Kirk (28), Webb Simpson (28), Dustin Johnson (29), Harris English (24), Jason Day (26) and Russell Henley (24) Seung-Yul Noh (22), Martin Kaymer TWICE (29), Brendon Todd, 28 and Matsuyama (22), are the twenty-somethings who have made large noise this year.
Australian John Senden, 42, won at Tampa Bay for the only W for the “Old Guys” this season. Jim Furyk is having a great season without winning. He bags another top finish this week with T12 to lead the old folks.
What I learned from the finishers in the top 10
Rickie Fowler: So a guy in the process of making swing changes has his three best finishes of the season at the WGC-Match Play (third), the Masters (T5) and the U.S. Open (T2). He had MC in three of his last six entering the week but did have T13 at FESJC his last time out. I guess he’s a lock for The Open, WGC-BI and the PGA…
Erik Compton: Playing in only his second major it’s fitting that the two-time heart transplant recipient finished T2. The knock on Compton coming into the 2014 season was that his game rarely traveled outside of the state of Florida. He’s crushed that theory into sand with finishes of T12 in Houston and T5 in New Orleans in April. His last three starts on TOUR saw him finish T34 at THE PLAYERS, MC (HPBNC) and MC (Memorial). He had a very nice season up to this point but his lack of major championship golf and an extended run of form had me disinterested. With his T2, he is exempt into the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay on top of the 2015 Masters. With those tickets booked, the 34-year old should start playing with house’s money and take the next step to being a consistent force. I’m watching.
Keegan Bradley: Another player entering the week on absolutely no form and undergoing swing changes, Bradley was lurking on Saturday morning after 69-69 to get it started. He looked like the recent Bradley with his 76 on Saturday to drop out of contention. He rallied for an excellent 67 on Sunday to reward those who had the faith to stick with him entering the week. His three rounds in the 60s were his best three rounds ever in the U. S. Open. Only the champ had three rounds in the 60s this week other than Bradley. That’s quite impressive considering that he had never shot lower than 73 is his previous two Opens. It’s impossible to argue that Bradley does not thrive on long and strong par-70 courses.
Jason Day: He’s played four U.S. Opens. He’s finished second, T59, T2 and T4 this week. That dude can grind it out with anyone. He keeps knocking, knocking…
Brooks Koepka: As I have remarked before, Rob Bolton is an absolute must-follow if you need status updates during the season on where players stand. Koepka, as with all of the players T10 this week, receives an invite to 2015 at Chambers Bay. As with all of the players in the top five, he also receives, if not exempt, an invite to next year’s Masters as well. With this finish Koepka should have plenty of non-member points to gain his card for NEXT SEASON but I’ll wait for Rob to clear it up. #expert
Dustin Johnson: I played him at the Memorial and FESJC in the Golf Channel game and he finished T46 and T24. He was T4 this week and that was with bogeys on Sunday on Nos. 15, 16 and 17. He left a few bucks on the table because his short game let him down but that should be nothing new to gamers. He’s been legit for a long time and he’s not going anywhere because he’s turning 30.
Henrik Stenson: After getting it to three-under after three holes on Sunday, the world’s No. 2 player played the next 15 holes in four-over to finish T4. His excellent tee shot on No. 17 and short putt saw him climb into the top five so that didn’t hurt gamers. He’s been quiet stateside but with his wrist no longer making any news I believe he’s an investment to be made in all big events. His ball-striking is too good to ignore and if his putter gets hot, like it did last summer, watch out.
Adam Scott: The world’s No. 1 player wasn’t as sharp as he needed to be to add another major to his cabinet but he ground it out with T9. His last three on TOUR have seen him win at Colonial, T4 at Memorial and T9 at the U.S. Open. RUN FOR THE HILLS! HE’S TRENDING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!!! As we mentioned in the chat last Wednesday, he’s the safest bet week in and week out.
Jimmy Walker: Make it three top 10s in his last four events. Make it T8 at the Masters, his first ever. Make it T6 at THE PLAYERS. Make it T9 at the U.S. Open, his best finish ever. I didn’t even mention that he’s won three times this season. I didn’t mention that he leads the FedExCup race. He. Can. Play. Anywhere.
Brandt Snedeker: His excellent results in U.S. Open competitions continues with his third top 10 in his last six. His T9 this week makes it four years in a row of T17 or better. In the midst of one of his worst seasons in recent memory, a putter change and a bad back, Snedeker proved his class on a course that he said on Twitter that was his favorite to play. The Man with His Own Column last week could have helped some weekly gamers, like me, who needed to take a chance to move up. Moving forward, any player with a back problem always scares me to death. It’s also crazy that his second-best finish of his year came on the toughest track. Entering the week he hadn’t finished better than T37 in his last five.
What happened to my pre-tournament favorites?
Adam Scott: T9, see above.
Rory McIlroy: The frustration that gamers have with mercurial talent was evidenced again this week as he carded his sixth nine-hole score of 40 or worse for the season. The worse news was he began that round, round three on Saturday, one-under par and right in the fight. The silver lining is his T23 was his worst finish on TOUR this season. He needs to sharpen the putter and he’ll be on his way. He’s an automatic selection regardless.
Phil Mickelson: Looking to complete the career grand slam, Mickelson finished T28 as he only made two birdies on the back nine this week in four rounds. He played well, his words, but just couldn’t score. After opening with even-par 70, he played his final three rounds seven-over. At least the Feds are off his case! He jokingly said after his round on Saturday that all he needed was 65 or so on Sunday and he would have finished second again. Well, he would have been close!
Bubba Watson: The one issue I constantly struggle with, because fantasy golf is hard, is whether or not to trust form or course horse. There is no absolute answer but I guess wrong on Watson and on Keegan Bradley. Watson has had poor form in U.S. Open set-ups and even questioned aloud whether he had the patience to excel in this format. Once he said that, I swore to cross him off anytime he played. Luckily I followed that theory in Yahoo! Keegan Bradley had never broke 73 in two tries and his best recent finish was in a birdie fest in New Orleans so it would make PERFECT SENSE that he would hit the top five. #wrongfadebutrighttheory
Jason Day: T4, see above.
Matt Kuchar: His bogey on No. 18 Sunday took him from T9 to T12. Typical Kuchar, sniffing around the top 10 just like gamers expect.
Jim Furyk: His 67 on Sunday moved him up 23 places to T12. He loves to grind and his excellent 2014, albeit winless, continues.
Sergio Garcia: He managed T35 on a bum knee on a very difficult test of golf. Gamers will appreciate that he sucked it up and gave it an effort. Too bad he wasn’t completely healthy as most players had high hopes for him this week.
Justin Rose: He was in the top five after an eagle on No. 5 but he played his last 13 holes four-over to finish T12 in a noble effort defending his championship. At one point on Thursday he was four-over for the tournament. On Sunday he was T12.
Dustin Johnson: T4, see above.
Jordan Spieth: Ho hum, T17. If gamers aren’t a believer by now, nothing I type is going to change their mind. Not bad for 20.
Jason Dufner: Here’s another player that I’ve had an impossible time pegging in 2014. Dufner is an unbelievable ball-striker who has excelled (T4, T4) in U.S. Opens in the last two years. This week, he was above average in putting yet below the field average in GIR. THAT MAKES NO SENSE. He MC by a shot.
Charl Schwartzel: He only made eight pars in round two and his 76 saw him also miss by one shot. His three MC this season are Honda (tough course), Masters (tough course) and the U.S. Open (tough course). He was also T48 at THE PLAYERS (tough course). Hmmmmmmmmmm…
Lee Westwood: He’s now 12-for-15 in U.S. Opens after his MC this week. This was his first majors MC since 2012 PGA.
Graeme McDowell: Started off in the chase pack with an opening round 68 and closed with a very solid 70 but it was 74-75 Friday and Saturday that killed off his chances.
Ernie Els: He once again has proven he is still relevant when par is an excellent score. His T35 might not light up gamer’s radar but his experience and ball-striking still travels.
Hideki Matsuyama: He was even-par heading into the weekend and was looking to add to last year’s T10 but he didn’t fire with a pair of 74s. He showed us last year that he was fearless in these settings as he was three-for-three in cuts made in the majors, including all three T19 or better. He’s 0-2 this year. Kids…He’s 22 and won the Memorial. He’s not going anywhere.
Bill Haas: The knock is he hasn’t performed in the majors as well as he would have liked and T35 this week won’t help that much. He made the cut at four-over. He played the weekend in four-over. His results in majors aren’t bad; they just aren’t great.
Webb Simpson: Gamers were happy to see the 2012 U.S. Open champion spring to life last week at the FESJC but, sadly, it didn’t carry over to this week. Simpson went the wrong direction after opening with 71, as he followed with 72, 73 and 74. The good news he didn’t make any crooked numbers. The bad news he only made eight birdies. Moving forward, I’m on board.
And the analysis doesn't end here. Rotoworld's Rob Bolton and I will be co-hosting a one-hour live chat Wednesday at NOON ET. We will be breaking down the field at the Travelers and answering your questions. Simply return to the golf home page to join in on the chatter. Don’t forget to follow Rob (http://twitter.com/RobBoltonGolf) and Glass (http://twitter.com/mikeglasscott) on Twitter.