Photo courtesy of Amy Davis
The U.S. Open is historically known to be one of the toughest tests in golf. Long, thick, and unforgiving rough resulting in high scores that makes professionals look like weekend amateurs has been what has made the tournament different from all the rest. In fact, since 1995, coincidentally the first year NBC started broadcasting the U.S. Open, only two times has the winning score reached double figures (Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach in 2000 and Rory Mcllroy at Congressional in 2011). In that near 20 year span, winning scores have hovered anywhere from even par to 5-under, with the extreme being at Winged Foot in 2006 and Oakmont in 2007 when the winning score was +5.
All this is what makes what Martin Kaymer did this past week so special and historical. Kaymer broke seemingly every U.S. Open record on his way to his eight shot win over Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton. That eight stroke margin of victory is historic in itself as it was one of the largest margins of victory in U.S. Open history. That didn’t even hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of history obtained during this, the 114th edition of our national championship of golf.
For the first two days, while most of the golfers in the field were just trying to save par, the 29 year old Kaymer appeared to be playing a different course. Kaymer went out on Thursday and scorched Pinehurst #2 in the afternoon with a 5-under 65. It was the lowest round any golfer had ever shot at Pinehurst in a U.S. Open round and that included names like Payne Stewart, Tiger Woods, and Phil Mickelson. He went out the next morning and backed up his first round 65 with another 65 to set a new record for lowest 36-hole score in U.S. Open history at 10-under 130, surpassing Rory’s 131 at Congressional in 2010.
By the time the weekend rolled around he had what appeared to be an insurmountable lead at six shots as the course started to dry up and play firm and fast. While the tougher conditions made it tougher to score for him, it kept the rest of the field from catching up to what had been a historic first two rounds for the German. Rounds of 72 and 69 on the weekend were enough as the lead never shrunk below four shots and in the end Kaymer walked up the 18th fairway with an 8-shot lead and his second win of the season. His win marked the first time in history that any golfer had one the Players Championship and U.S. Open in the same season (he won the Players last month). As a result he also won events on Mother’s Day and Father’s day.
Kaymer was not the only one making history yesterday. Down the leader board history was being made as well. Fowler and Compton, who both finished runner up at 1-under, recorded their best finishes in a major in their careers. For Compton, not only was it his best finish but it came with an invite to next year’s Open at Chambers Bay as well as a Masters invite. He is doing all of this with his third heart. Compton has undergone 2 separate heart transplants in his lifetime, making his achievements on the course all the more special.
One more spot down the leader board finishing in a tie for fourth at +1 was Brooks Koepka. The Wellington native and current Palm Beach Gardens resident also recorded his best ever finish in a major and with that came some fantastic “consolation prizes” for not winning. As a result of his top five finish, Koepka is now exempt for next year’s U.S. Open, meaning he will not need to go through the qualifying process again to earn a spot. In addition, he also earned his first ever trip to Augusta National and the Masters next April. Bigger than all that is that with his finish, Koepka earned his PGA Tour card for not only the remainder of this year but for the entire 2014-2015 season as well. Going into the week, Koepka needed to finish in a tie for 17th or better to earn enough points to get him safely into the top 125 in FedEx Cup points. His tie for fourth did more than enough to earn him enough points and he will now have the ability to compete in as many PGA Tour events as he wants without having to get a sponsors exemption.
Then there was the story going into the week of Phil Mickelson. Six times a runner up at the U.S. Open with his first coming at the same Pinehurst course in 1999, Mickelson was looking to get his first U.S. Open victory and finally complete the career grand slam. This week would not be the week though as Mickelson shot 70-73-72-72 to finish in a tie for 28th at +7.
As the sun set on Pinehurst #2 on Sunday and the final U.S. Open was aired by NBC, it was Martin Kaymer who held the trophy after the conclusion of a truly historical event.
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