PINEHURST, N.C. - After four days of being in a class by himself, Martin Kaymer held the U.S. Open trophy Sunday and realized that the greatest achievement was not being alone. It was joining an elite class. He is in a different category now that he has won more than one major championship.
Every time a young player wins a major, the word is that this will open the door to more. It rarely happens, though. So it was an accomplishment that he cherished after he strode home with an eight-shot win, one of the most one-sided victories in Open history.
"You want to win majors in your career, but if you can win more than one, it means so much more," said the 29-year-old from Dusseldorf, Germany, who had won the 2010 PGA Championship in a playoff. "Some people, especially when I went through that low, called me a one-hit wonder and those things. It's quite nice proof, even though I don't feel like I need to prove to a lot of people, but somehow it's quite satisfying to have two under your belt."
Kaymer never can be called a one-hit wonder again. At Pinehurst No. 2 this week, he was simply a wonder. His score of 271 was the second lowest in Open history (to Rory McIlroy's 270 at Congressional in 2011). McIlroy said Sunday that Kaymer's wire-to-wire romp "is nearly more impressive than what I did at Congressional."
With his blowout win over Erik Compton (the two-time heart transplant recipient) and Rickie Fowler, Kaymer tied McIlroy for the fourth-largest margin in Open history (after Tiger Woods' 15 in 2000, Willie Smith's 11 in 1899 and Jim Barnes' nine in 1921). He started strongly with a two-putt birdie on No. 3, a cautious bogey on No. 8 and another birdie on the par-3 ninth and never led by fewer than four.
He saw his 1-under-par 69 as a bit of a struggle. "It was a return to normality. The first two days, it was not normal to shoot 10 under par," he said.
Keegan Bradley, who played with him Thursday and Friday, said, "It was probably the best two rounds I've ever seen since I've been playing."
Bradley went on to say what most people on tour, and at the club at which he practices in Arizona, say about Kaymer: that "he is just a good guy. I really like being around him."
Kaymer's calm, cheerful personality never wavered when he went through that "low" after he won the PGA and reached No. 1 in the world ranking. In the meantime, McIlroy and newcomers such as American Jordan Spieth were heralded as golf's young stars. Kaymer went under the radar.
"I think I was [a] deserved 'under the radar' because I didn't play as good as they did," he said Sunday.
He barely played in the 2012 Ryder Cup, but in the mandatory singles competition, he sank the putt that clinched the victory for Europe. Then he led after every round last month at The Players. That was Mother's Day, and he was emotional about his late mom. To win on Father's Day was a quinella, although he pointed out that Germany celebrated that holiday several weeks ago. "I didn't get anything for my father that day, so maybe this works," he said.
All week, Kaymer joked that his play here would barely create a ripple in Germany, what with the World Cup going on. It wasn't all that big a hit in the United States, either. His birdie on No. 3 evoked nothing more than polite applause. By the next tee, fans were shouting for Fowler, "USA, baby!"
The winner later said that the fans were fair. They did cheer him on his walk to the 18th green, into a new class of golfer.