PINEHURST: Martin Kaymer proved to his friends and himself that he’s no one-hit wonder when it comes to winning major golf titles with a dominating four-day performance to win the US Open.
The 29-year-old German captured his second major title on Sunday (Monday in Manila) by grinding out a one-under 69 final round at Pinehurst to complete a wire-to-wire triumph by a staggering eight shots.
Kaymer joined Tiger Woods, Ernie Els, Rory McIlroy and Seve Ballesteros as multiple major winners who also attained the world number one ranking before turning 30.
“It’s very tough to compare yourself to those legends,” Kaymer said. “When other people want to call me that, it’s fine. To win one major is already very nice in your career, but to win two, it means a lot more.”
Kaymer, who ended a PGA-level win drought of nearly three years by winning the Players Championship last month, had been taunted even by buddies after an 11-week stay atop the rankings slipped away to a spot outside the top 60 at one stage.
“Some friends, they called me one-hit wonder with the majors, obviously in a funny way,” Kaymer said.
“And now I can go back and show them this one. So it’s quite a big proof to yourself that you cannot only win one, but you can win when it matters. You can win big tournaments.
“I don’t feel like I need to prove (anything) to a lot of people, but somehow it’s quite satisfying to have two under your belt. And I’m only 29, so I hope I have another few years ahead of me.”
Kaymer opened with back-to-back 65s, setting a US Open record for 36 holes and matching the best two-day start in major golf history.
From there the challenge was to stay in command and Kaymer did with clutch putts from long range and a calm focus.
While he made it look easy, Kaymer said his victory was anything but.
“The challenge was not to think too much about that trophy. It goes through your head. We do think about it. We are humans, and we’re not robots,” he said.
“So it was a tough challenge. A lot of emotions involved, a lot of expectations.”
Credit Scottish caddie Craig Connolly with helping hold Kaymer together over his most difficult round.
“Him being so relaxed and so positive and open, me being more focused and very strict on things, it was a good combination,” Kaymer said. “That is what I needed. So without Craig, it would have been a lot more difficult.”
Kaymer had been a control freak about his game but actually backed off that to spark his latest success, citing the philosophy in the golf film “The Legend of Bagger Vance” that he saw Friday.
“At the end of the day, you have to feel on the golf course. You have to create that feel and trust your skill and all the work,” Kaymer said. “It’s about that feel, that touch, that you play with your heart, that you can’t control too many things. That’s what I was trying to do the last three years. Now I just play.”
And now his slump is a distant memory.
“I knew it would come. I knew that I would play good golf again,” he said. “There was enough belief there. I just didn’t think it would take me that much time to get back where I was.
“So it’s not a huge surprise to me that I played good golf. It’s just a surprise that I won such big tournaments. But I’ll take it.”