One-hit wonder no more, Kaymer back on top
Sunday, June 15, 2014
PINEHURST, N.C. – Martin Kaymer heard the critics – a one-hit wonder who had lost his way in the game of golf.
The 29-year-old German didn't have the results to disprove any of them.
Sure, he won the 2010 PGA Championship, following it with a win at the 2011 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship – leapfrogging Tiger Woods to World No. 2 – and added a runner-up finish at the WGC-Match Play Championship.
Suddenly, Kaymer was giving soccer a run for its money in his native Germany – especially when he surpassed Lee Westwood as No. 1 in the world after his finish in the Arizona desert.
He was on top of the world.
Within 11 weeks, Kaymer was knocked from his perch atop the golf world – and the drop took on a life of itself, with Kaymer seemingly falling off the map.
"I was not expecting myself to win a major at 25. I was surprised about my performance," said Kaymer, who completed an eight-shot romp at the U.S. Open on Sunday.
"I couldn't handle a lot of things that happened in Germany, all the attention that I could get. And then becoming No. 1 in the world, that added another thing.
"And it was too much. It was just, you know, to be completely honest, it was very difficult to handle everything and to play good golf."
PHOTOS: 2014 U.S. Open winner, Martin Kaymer
Check out photos of the 2014 U.S. Open winner Martin Kaymer throughout the week at Pinehurst No. 2.
With only two top-10 finishes in 2011 and 2012 on PGA Tour, Kaymer slipped down the world rankings. Working on his swing behind the scenes, Kaymer's struggles were there for everyone to see.
But then there was a round-of-16 loss in the 2013 Match Play that showed a tiny glimmer of the old Kaymer. Three months later, there was a T-5 at the HP Byron Nelson Championship. And then a T-9 in August at the Bridgestone Invitational.
The swing was in place and the results were beginning to roll in.
After another top 10 to start the 2014 PGA Tour season, Kaymer finally announced his re-arrival with a wire-to-wire win in May's Players Championship – including a 30-footer for par on the 71st hole that kept him one shot ahead of the field with a hole to play.
And Sunday at Pinehurst No. 2, the rebuilding of Martin Kaymer came full circle with a dominating, wire-to-wire victory at the U.S. Open.
A one-hit wonder no more.
"You want to win majors in your career, but if you can win one more, it means so much more," said Kaymer, the first German to win the U.S. Open, as well as the first from continental Europe.
On Sunday, a calm and calculated Kaymer dissected the links-like Pinehurst for the fourth consecutive day, posting his third under-par round with a 1-under 69 – taking an overnight five-shot lead and recording the fourth-largest margin of victory in Open history.
"The challenge was not to think too much about that trophy, not to think too much about sitting here now, about what you're going to say," admitted Kaymer.
"Not too much thinking about how you might celebrate on 18 and those things, you know. It goes through your head, and I'm sure a lot of players feel the same way. Not many talk about it, but it is what it is."
Kaymer – the second German to win multiple major titles with Bernhard Langer capturing the 1985 and 1993 Masters – had never previously broken par over 72 holes in a U.S. Open, making five of six cuts, with his best finish a tie for eighth at Pebble Beach in 2010.
". . . I played very brave. So I'm very proud of that," said Kaymer, the 18th player to win both the U.S. Open and PGA Championship.
Kaymer found it "exhausting" to be questioned every day after shooting back-to-back 65s in the tournament's first two days – but was proud that his exploits were recognized by a German newspaper website, as a headline on its homepage was dedicated to Kaymer.
While that might sound commonplace for most, Germany is fairly focused on another sport this week – soccer.
"That meant a lot to me, knowing that there's more attention," said Kaymer. "And now, you know, bringing that trophy home, and my next tournament will be in Germany in Cologne, where I live, so I will make sure to take that trophy with me until I tee it off on Thursday morning and promote golf even more, because it's not exhausting for me anymore."
With his two majors in tow and the Solheim Cup slated to visit Germany in 2015, Kaymer is ready for the spotlight this time around.
"Now it's a time where you can make golf bigger in Germany," said Kaymer.
German golf certainly has found its spokesman – and he isn't going anywhere this time around.
Golfweek.com readers: We value your input and welcome your comments, but please be respectful in this forum.