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martin kaymer us open

Martin Kaymer Exclusive: ‘5-over has a good chance to be in the top 10. After two days, I was 10-under…’

Martin Kaymer looked back on one of the great US Open performances of recent times that he produced at Pinehurst No.2 with NCG’s Matt Chivers

 

Martin Kaymer entered the conversation for US Open contention in 2014 after winning The Players Championship a month before.

It would’ve been this victory that whet the appetite of punters looking to back Kaymer at Pinehurst No.2, as it certainly wouldn’t have been his uninspiring form of the previous couple of years.

Between winning the PGA Championship in 2010 and winning at TPC Sawgrass, he made six top-10s on the PGA Tour. He might’ve holed that putt for Europe to win the 2012 Ryder Cup, but there was more than one reason why European fans were hiding behind their sofas at that moment.

It’s because Kaymer hadn’t been playing very well. He had only made one top 10 in Europe in the four months preceding that famous Ryder Cup in Medinah and he had dropped outside of the world’s top 60 before winning The Players.

But it was this clutch performance in Ponte Vedra that reminded everyone of what the German was capable of.

“I won the Players Championship so there was a little bit of interest in me, so I was asked at the press conference what winning score I would expect at Pinehurst,” Kaymer told NCG.

“Probably four or five-over has a good chance to be in the top 10. So, after two days, I was 10-under-par and I really surprised myself because it was a very, very difficult golf course.

“My putting was incredible that week. I never took any risks from around the greens. When I missed the green, I was putting well within 10 feet, so I felt very confident with that, which is a big number. 10 feet is still a long putt and I felt confident with that.”

martin kaymer us open

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Martin Kaymer 2014 US Open: Dominance personified through putting

His putting was just the tip of the iceberg. What Kaymer produced at one of golf’s most recognisable venues was incredible. He became the first player to shoot 65 or better in the first two rounds of a major and set a US Open record for the lowest 36-hole score.

10-under-par was the mark the field were gawping at heading into the weekend. Brendon Todd mustered the second-best effort on four-under-par, with Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka and Henrik Stenson eight shots behind.

Only 13 players finished under par halfway through and only Tiger Woods in 2000 and Rory McIlroy in 2011 had held this big of a lead at this stage of the US Open.

Leads at major championships are not easy to hold, but easy to throw away. Despite the leisure of such a large gap, the stakes are higher now and there is more to lose. It is like being 3-0 up in football.

As well as staying focused on the fairways in North Carolina, Kaymer stayed in the zone off the course too, ignoring the noise and even praise from television analysts who were already crowning him champion.

“There is more pressure with a big lead. I was doing very well all week to avoid TV,” he added. “I didn’t watch the Golf Channel, I didn’t watch any social media, I didn’t do any of that because I didn’t want to be influenced by the outside, especially if you watch the Golf Channel.

“They tell you how good you are, you’re great at this and that and they put thoughts in your head that I wanted to avoid.

“So, I handled that part really well and therefore, I think I had more energy, and I was more level-headed during those tournament rounds.”

Perhaps this is why Kaymer, an 11-time winner on the DP World Tour also, is so cool, calm and collected. The key to keeping your eyes on the prize is to ignore the outside world.

Kaymer didn’t produce the same heroics in the last 36 holes as he did in the first. But he didn’t need to. His two-over 72 on Saturday meant he was still five shots ahead of Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton, two very easy people to root for.

When Fowler returns to Pinehurst in 2024, his popularity won’t have dwindled and Compton captured the imagination of the public as the Miami man’s past included two heart transplants.

But it could be Tiger or Rory five shots clear, everyone is imploring the champion-elect to falter to enjoy an exciting finish. “Let’s hope he doesn’t run away with it,” many will have said.

But Kaymer’s dominance didn’t relent. At what can be a brutal tournament by way of course difficulty and atmosphere, he tamed the two and gained the respect of the American patrons whom he broke the hearts of two years before in Chicago.

martin kaymer us open

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“I played with Rickie Fowler on Sunday and the crowds were all on his side, but then at the turn, I got so much respect from the fans, and they were very fair, and I enjoyed playing at Pinehurst,” he said.

“I heard they have changed the course a tiny bit, the grass is a little bit different, and the greens have changed, it will be interesting to see the difference between 2014 and 2024.”

Pinehurst produced one of the most memorable US Opens when the course played host for the first time in 1999. Payne Stewart lifted his back leg and punched the air after overcoming Phil Mickelson in an epic duel. Greater significance has since been added to this memory as later that year, Stewart died in an airplane accident.

Michael Campbell held off Tiger Woods in 2005 at the same venue. Both exciting opens, but neither champion showed the dominance and poise of Kaymer who kept every player at least four shots away for the last 48 holes.

At 29 years old, he became just the seventh player to win the US Open wire-to-wire. His resume is rubberstamped with three almighty trophies: the PGA, the Players and the US Open.

“To win one major is a great achievement, but to win multiple, not that many people have done it,” he added. “So, I felt like I achieved something very special.

“But when I hit my tee shot on 17, the par 3 and I hit the green, then I knew I would win the US Open and then it was a big relief at that time. It was very late in the tournament, but there was a time when I thought OK that’s it.

“Playing the 18th was just enjoyable, walking down the tee box to the fairway and there’s so much satisfaction that you came there, did what you hoped for, and you fly home to Germany, and you have the next tournament the next week on the European Tour where you can celebrate a little bit and just enjoy the massive victory.”

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Matt Chivers

Matt Chivers

Now on the wrong side of 25, Matt has been playing golf since the age of 13 and was largely inspired to take up the game by countless family members who played golf during his childhood.

Matt is a member at Royal Cinque Ports in Deal playing off a 5 handicap, just a pitching wedge away from his hometown of Dover where he went to school and grew up. He has previously been a member at Etchinghill and Walmer and Kingsdown in Kent.

Having studied history at the University of Liverpool, Matt went on to pass his NCTJ Exams in Manchester a year later to fulfil his lifelong ambition of becoming a journalist. He picked up work experience along the way at places such as the Racing Post, the Independent, Sportsbeat and the Lancashire Evening Post.

Matt joined NCG in February 2023 and is the website’s main source of tour news, features and opinion. He has reported live from events such as The Open, the Ryder Cup and The Players Championship, having also interviewed and spoken to the likes of Rory McIlroy, Tommy Fleetwood, Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson, to name just a few.

Consuming tour golf on what is a 24/7 basis, you can come to Matt for informed views on the game and the latest updates on the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, LPGA Tour, Ladies European Tour and LIV Golf.

What’s in Matt’s bag: Cobra LTDx LS driver, Cobra LTDx 3-wood, TaylorMade P7MC irons, Ping Glide 4.0 wedges, Odyssey putter.

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