Martin Kaymer does Tiger Woods impersonation at US Open, until the celebration
JUN 16, 2014 12:19a ET
Had Tiger Woods done this, they'd be hailing it as one of the greatest triumphs in golf history.
Winning the United States Open by eight shots -- a margin eclipsed only once, by Woods in 2000, in the modern era -- and winning wire-to-wire -- achieved only eight times in more than a century -- is the stuff of legend.
But, sadly, there was barely more than tepid, if polite, applause on Sunday as Martin Kaymer put on a master class in how to dominate a major championship from start to finish at Pinehurst No. 2.
The buzz was anti-buzz.
Boring, they called Kaymer's cool, clinical closing of his second major on social media.
He was certainly guilty of sucking the drama out of the final round -- ably assisted by the chasing pack, who stumbled over their ambitions -- but isn't that what great champions do?
Would it have been boring had Woods authored this gem? Of course not.
But there is in sports, as in life, such a thing as star power. And Kaymer, an earnest 29-year-old German who concedes that he is "fairly serious," doesn't have much wattage.
And more's the pity if this tour-de-force in the North Carolina sandhills will be devalued because he's naturally stoic and in four days managed just the one half-hearted fist pump.
Even when he finally closed the deal, saving par from 135 yards on the last hole, Kaymer's emotions failed to get the better of him.
When his 15-footer found the hole -- as so many putts had for him this week, he did drop his putter, but there was no dancing, no high-fives with his caddie, and no roars from the galleries, some of whom had disgracefully applauded his (few) faux pas as if that were the same as cheering for his 'Merican playing partner, Rickie Fowler, who finished a distant second.
"Overall, it was a very nice week," Kaymer said, "It was a very nice day."
It wasn't the biggest day of his life?
"Of my life? I mean, it's a big statement," he responded.
He is not, obviously, a champion for hyperbole or even a quick, glib sound bite. But he is far more interesting than the walking cliches who have come before him in the game of golf.
After all, he got to the pinnacle, winning the 2010 PGA Championship and then becoming No. 1 in the world the following year, before deciding to undergo a total swing overhaul because he felt incomplete as a player.
Kaymer fell off the map for two years, dropping to 63 in the world rankings, while he retooled his swing -- wanting to add the draw to his natural fade -- but announced his return with a stunning wire-to-wire victory last month at The Players.
Regardless of whether he has star power, his game certainly does.
"With all respect to Rory, this was a more complete performance than Rory's," said Colin Mongtomerie, comparing Kaymer's win with McIlroy's eight-shot romp in the 2011 Open at Congressional.
And McIlroy wasn't disagreeing.
"I'm wondering how he did it," McIlroy said of Kaymer's 9-under-par total. "I think I've made a total of nine birdies this week. I don't see any more out there.
"Obviously, if you limit the mistakes, you might end up a couple under par for the week, because you're always going to make a few mistakes. But to do what he's doing is ... I think it's nearly more impressive than what I did at Congressional."
Kaymer said he always knew he'd be back at the top and only became impatient with the time it was taking because it meant he had to answer the never-ending questions about his "slump."
At 29, he sounds, too, like a man better equipped, not just as a golfer but as a person, to deal with what comes with winning big tournaments.
"Four years ago, I didn't know what's happening, you know. I was surprised," he said. "I was not expecting myself to win a major at 25. I was surprised about my performance. I was surprised about a lot of things. 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.
"To be completely honest, it was very difficult to handle everything and to play good golf.
"So right now I am OK with talking to (the media) in a very calm, normal, relaxed way, as if we were having a normal conversation. In the past, I always think I have to say something special and something that might be interesting. Now I just talk."
Or, better still, he lets his golf clubs do the talking.