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U.S. Open Recap: Kaymer Snoozes to Victory

Len Hochberg

Len Hochberg

Hochberg covers golf for RotoWire. A veteran sports journalist, he was an editor and reporter at The Washington Post for many years, covering the Washington Capitals. He co-authored a book on the history of hockey.

Chances are, no matter what happened over the four days of the U.S. Open, this year's tournament was going to be remembered for what happened after it was over: Johnny Miller's emotional signoff after two decades of covering the national championship.

For sure, Martin Kaymer's wire-to-wire bludgeoning of the field is one for the ages, but, c'mon, there was more drama in the final exchange between NBC's Dan Hicks and Miller. Heck, there was more drama in "Caddyshack."

After twin 65s on Thursday and Friday, no one got within four shots of Kaymer, who all of a sudden can stake a claim to again being the best golfer on the planet. Following his win last month at The Players Championship, Kaymer has rocketed to No. 11 in the OWGR, having begun the year at No. 63. And he, belatedly, has now lost the title of Worst Golfer Ever to Be No. 1 in the World, which he held for a scant two months in 2011.

Kaymer added a second major to a resume that includes the 2010 PGA Championship, plus the Ryder Cup-retaining putt in 2012.

Winning by eight strokes with a 9-under 271 over feel-good-story Erik Compton and Rickie Fowler, Kaymer's performance was Tigeresque but not quite Tiger (Woods won the 2000 Open at Pebble Beach by 15 shots) and Roryesque but not quite Rory (McIlroy won the 2011 Open at Congressional with a record 16-under total).

But looking at the who's who in his immediate wake - immediate only because they were high on the leader board - was mind-boggling: Fowler, Jason Day, Keegan Bradley, Dustin Johnson, Henrik Stenson, world No. 1 Adam Scott, Brandt Snedeker, Jim Furyk, defending champion Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar all finished in the top 12. Yet not one of them could put a smidge of pressure on Kaymer.

And, entering the final round with a five-stroke lead on Fowler, Kaymer surely didn't put any pressure on himself. Such leads have been lost before in major tournaments. Look no further than Miller's replacement next year when the U.S. Open at Chambers Bay outside Tacoma, Wash., moves to Fox - Greg Norman.


Rickie Fowler

Of course, finishing tied for second in a major is nothing to be taken lightly. But it would've been more encouraging had Fowler put any pressure - any pressure - on playing partner Kaymer. After Kaymer birdied No. 3 to extend his advantage over Fowler to six strokes, Fowler promptly doubled No. 4. Still, it was Fowler's best finish at a major, following a T5 at the Masters. And no one else can say they finished in the top 5 in both this year. But we're left with the feeling that Fowler is a lot like Dustin Johnson: all the talent in the world to contend, not enough cajones to break through.

Jason Day/

This was only Day's third event since winning the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship in February, slowed by a left thumb injury. But he has shown that when healthy, he thrives on the USGA's penal U.S. Open setups. The Aussie finished T4, after being the runner-up last year and in 2011. Day also has two top-3s in the Masters and two top-10s in the PGA Championship. But he has never shown much at the Open Championship.

Brandt Snedeker

Considering there were questions about a knee injury dating to the end of last year, and then a back ailment that flared during the final round on Sunday, tying for ninth is the best news all year for Snedeker. He had only one prior top 10 in 2013-14, and is still only 96th in the point standings, but this could very well be the turning point of Snedeker's season.

Rory McIlroy

McIlroy had a string of backdoor top-10s going for a while, making his final scorecards look better than his overall weeks, but now he doesn't even have those to fall back on. McIlroy finished T23 this week after a 74-73 on the weekend, following a T15 at the Memorial that began with that remarkable 63. Sure, he's again in the top 10 in the world, but is he really playing like it?

Kenny Perry

A pretty impressive showing for a golfer two months shy of turning 54. Perry withstood the 7,500-plus yards of Pinehurst No. 2 to shoot 74-69-74-70 for a 7-over 287, tying for 28th. It's the 10th weekend he's played in 13 tries at the U.S. Open, including in 2005 at Pinehurst, when he tied for 23rd. Perry isn't a fantasy option on the regular tour, but for this week, he was a nice story.

Phil Mickelson

Speaking of nice stories ... none here, sorry. This was to be one of the PGA Tour storylines of the year: Mickelson completing the career grand slam at Pinehurst, where he agonizingly finished second to Payne Stewart in 1999. But Mickelson, despite a respectable 70-73-72-72 showing that left him tied with Perry and others, isn't playing well enough to contend. He has zero top-10s this season, is 80th in the point standings and it's beginning to look as if he his win last year in the Open Championship was an aberration, if not a final hurrah. We'll see how Mickelson does next month at Royal Liverpool.

Luke Donald

Outside of last year, when he wound up T8 at Merion, Donald had never shown well at the U.S. Open. And with Pinehurst the longest Open track ever, it didn't bode well for the Englishman. Donald opened with a 77 and rebounded with a 69, but he missed the cut on the number. He'll likely perform better at the Open Championship, where he has two top-5s in the last five years. But, candidly, Donald's window to win a major has probably been gone for a while now.

Bubba Watson

While Watson surely has the length for Pinehurst and all U.S. Open layouts, he curiously has never performed well in the tournament, save 2007 at Oakmont. Like Donald, he missed the cut by one this week. Don't expect much from Watson at Hoylake, either. His best shot at majors, of course, is at Augusta, with the PGA Championship second, depending on the course.

Roberto Castro

Castro qualified for all the majors and WGCs based on reaching the Tour Championship last year. Unfortunately for him, that has only accentuated that last year may have been an aberration. Castro has made only seven of 19 cuts overall, missing the weekend at the Masters, The Players and now the U.S. Open, following twin 74s. He's 139th in the point standings. It may be a case of a younger player having to take a step back after initial success on tour, but Castro is in real danger of losing his card for next season.

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