PINEHURST: Germany’s Martin Kaymer completed an overwhelming wire-to-wire US Open victory Sunday to capture his second major golf title, grinding out a one-under par 69 to win by eight strokes at Pinehurst.
Former world number one Kaymer, whose first major title came at the 2010 PGA Championship, finished 72 holes on nine-under 271, the second-lowest total in US Open history after Rory McIlroy’s 268 in 2011.
“It was probably the toughest day that I played golf,” Kaymer said of his final-round effort. “I stayed aggressive and I played very brave. So I’m very proud of that.
“I’m very happy. It’s a very nice and very satisfying feeling.”
Kaymer displayed poise under pressure while calmly making long clutch putts on tricky turtle-backed greens on his way to a top prize of $1.62 million.
He followed a US Open record-low start of back-to-back 65s with a 72 to lead by five entering the last round and then maintained his edge to the end, matching McIlroy’s 2011 win margin as the fourth biggest in US Open history.
“I didn’t make many mistakes,” Kaymer said. “I played solid the first two days and that gave me a cushion for the weekend. To play the weekend one-over at Pinehurst, that made me very happy.”
Americans Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton shared second on 279 after each fired a final-round 72, but no one came within four strokes of Kaymer at any point in the final round.
“No one was catching Kaymer this week,” Compton said. “We all were playing for second.”
The victory culminated a comeback for Kaymer, who struggled after his major triumph and went almost three years without a PGA win until taking last month’s Players Championship.
Kaymer became only the seventh player to win after leading every round, joining a select champions’ list that includes Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Walter Hagen, Ben Hogan, James Barnes and Tony Jacklin.
“It’s a lot (of pressure leading all the way), especially if you play on a different continent,” Kaymer said. “It was a very nice week, very nice day.”
The 29-year-old from Dusseldorf became the first man from continental Europe to win the US Open crown and the fourth European winner in five seasons.
Kaymer, who will jump from 28th to 11th in the world rankings as a result of the triumph, matched the career major total of Germany’s only other major winner, Bernhard Langer, who captured the 1985 and 1993 Masters titles.
“I’m sure it will make all Germany proud,” Kaymer said. “We have almost a German grand slam. Only the British Open is missing.”
Kaymer became the first man to win the Players and US Open in the same year and joined Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Hal Sutton in winning the Players and a major in the same year.
Never allowing foes near enough to challenge, Kaymer drove the green to birdie the par-4 third and took a bogey at the seventh after putting around a bunker to avoid a risky chip.
Fowler, who shared fifth at the Masters, faded after a double bogey at the fourth and Compton endured a roller-coaster run of three birdies and four bogeys from the fifth to 12th holes.
Kaymer made a six-foot birdie at the ninth then took a bogey at the par-5 10th after sending his approach over the green and then putting off the front of the green.
Kaymer birdied 13 and 14 to stretch his margin, giving one shot back with a bogey at 16 before he sank a 15-foot par put at 18 — a fitting end to a week where his putting simply sizzled.
“Martin was playing his own golf tournament,” Fowler said. “To look at him, to see how well he controls his golf game, pushes me a little bit because I wasn’t that far back.”
Compton, twice a heart transplant recipient and playing in only his second major, achieved his best PGA finish and took home $789,330, more than his best prior season and almost as much as in his prior 19 starts this year combined.
“For me to do this at such a high level is just as good a feeling as winning,” said Compton, who received his first new heart at age 12 in 1992 and underwent a second transplant in 2008.
“I’m thrilled. It’s just a real special moment. It’s a career-opening thing for me, to put myself on the map and prove to the world I’m not just the guy with two heart transplants.”
Sweden’s second-ranked Henrik Stenson, who would have become world number one with a victory, shared fourth on 281 with Australian Jason Day and Americans Brooks Koepka, Keegan Bradley and Dustin Johnson.