Martin Kaymer ran out consecutive 65’s to start the week, and throttled the field by eight shots in a weekend that lacked drama, but was filled with excellence. An absolutely world class performance by the German, and I’m left in awe. Kaymer is an extremely worthy United States Open champion.
1) We gushed over Martin Kaymer’s triumph at the Players Championship, and he somehow surpassed that performance at Pinehurst on an even bigger stage. Despite the huge margin of victory, it was rocky at a couple points, but he seemed to recover with ballsy shot after ballsy shot, and he cruised to his second major title. On our podcast this week, we got a question about who we thought would be the next one time major winner to win a second major, and Tron picked Kaymer. I don’t think any of us thought it would have come this quickly (or else he would have been in our picks in the preview), but this really shouldn’t come as a surprise with what we’ve seen from him lately. Bad weekends at Quail Hollow and at the Byron Nelson overshadowed two other solid performances on top of his Players Championship win. His game plays pretty much anywhere (outside of Augusta, considering his fade) and I don’t think we’re done seeing him win in 2014.
Tron’s got a Kaymer story from last year down at the Heritage:
He played well the first two rounds and made the cut comfortably, and was either paired with Spieth or in a group right around him so we were in his vicinity. And we were also intrigued by Kaymer himself – he was a name with some cache and we’d read about his quest to hit a draw and as aficionados of right to left ball flight we had to see for ourselves. We watched three or four holes and were legitimately spooked. Kaymer looked completely lost. On the tight Harbour Town course he was spraying it from side to side, wandering figuratively and literally through the wilderness but putting quite well. The scary part was his demeanor – he looked defeated. We got to #14, which is a 200 yard par 3 with a devilishly small green, made even more difficult by the wind that howled all weekend. Kaymer made an absolute mess of it, carding triple and shooting a five-over 40 on the back nine. He followed it up with an eight-over 43 on the back nine the next day. Fil and I were legitimately depressed for the guy (And his hat didn’t help matters – that ill-fitting SAP lid looked like it was plucked off the swag table in one of the hospitality tents and was unbecoming of his otherwise BOSSy apparel. Glad to see SAP finally got its act together and got him into a better hat!) and confused as to how HE looked so confused with his swing. To see a guy go from there to this is super cool. Kaymer’s a class act, seems like he keeps it real, and his “Texas Wedge” game is unparalleled. I think he’s gotta be in the conversation for Open Championship favorites.
2) I give Pinehurst a solid B+ for the week. Visually, the course looked spectacular on television (despite the garbage The Donald is spewing), and as someone who appreciates natural rolling landscapes and subtly contoured bunkering, it was a welcome change from seeing the best players in the world wedge out from thick vegetation five yards off of the fairway. Scores may have been lower than expected (well, Kaymer’s score at least), but can someone tell me why that’s a bad thing? The course was challenging, but gettable in certain spots. The greens were fascinating and fair. The good shots were rewarded, and if you missed in the wrong spot, you were punished. That sounds like a damn fine championship to me. I especially enjoyed the couple of short par 4’s and the way the USGA tinkered with the setup. The players seemed to agree as well, as there was very little griping heard all week.
3) It was great to see the crowd throw a tremendous amount of support behind Rickie Fowler on Sunday, and I’m all for rooting for a fellow American to win our national championship, but the “fans” that were audibly rooting against Martin Kaymer after poor shots need to be sent back to their shanties. That shit is seriously disgraceful. Kaymer was nothing but a complete professional for the entire week (and for as long as I can remember), and he deserves the respect of the galleries in the US. This isn’t football. That’s something you would never hear about happening in the British Open, and Kaymer deserved a lot better than that. If it were someone like Ian Poulter, I could at least understand it, but I still would never condone it.
4) There were a lot of performances that are noteworthy for one reason or another.
- Jason Day netted a back door top-10 despite an opening round 73, and considering his lack of reps leading up to this week due to a thumb injury, that’s an encouraging sign for the rest of the season. His name should be at the top of any list of favorites when major championships come around. This was his 7th top-10 in a major championship, and it’s easy to forget that he’s only 26.
- Rickie Fowler notched his second top-5 in a major this season, which should help silence anyone that says he’s all style and no substance. A combined 253 competitors have suited up for majors this year, and Fowler has been beaten by a total of five of them in the two events.
- Dustin Johnson also landed his 7th top-10 in a major, and he’s going to win the PGA Championship this year. Book it.
- Brooks Koepka didn’t announce himself in a loud fashion (not that NBC gave him any airtime, anyway), but he showed out and helped expose the pathetic qualifying system that has sent one of the best young Americans to the Euro Tour to try to get his tour card. He’s back stateside for good, and the tour is better for it.
- We expected a bit more from Chris Kirk this weekend. He looked rock solid going in and it looked like he was a good bet to make the leap, but he just couldn’t keep it rolling. In that same vein, it’s sobering to think about how big of a spot the final pairing on the weekend of the US Open really is – Brendon Todd looked jumpy from the very first tee on Saturday and struggled mightily on the way to a 79. That he came back strong on Sunday with a 69 shows the effect of that pressure.
- Speaking of pressure, Eric Compton. WOW. Such a fantastic story that I can’t really get enough of. The biggest possible NLU tip of the cap from us.
5) Happy trails, NBC (and Chris Berman on Thurs/Fri)! Johnny was more insufferable than ever, and the chemistry with the rest of the team seemed off the whole week. Judging by what I’ve seen on the twittersphere, I’m not alone. Bring on Fox’s coverage, whatever that ends up looking like (just please no Cleatus):
6) I was peeping the OWGR this weekend and came across a guy at #62 that I’ve literally never heard of: Koumei Oda. This day in age, with the global nature of the game and the big money events based on OWGR, I’m just not sure how that’s possible. Looks like he’s played in four majors, as well, but how someone can get to the top 70 in the world while being completely anonymous on the world stage is curious and somewhat impressive. It’s not like he was stacking Japan Tour wins – he’s got two in the last two years but just keeps banking top 10’s.
How Our Picks Fared
- Jason Day – T4
- Jimmy Walker- T9
- Jordan Spieth – T17
- Billy Horschel – T23
- Graham McDowell – T28
- Chris Kirk – T28
- Graham DeLaet – MC
- Bubba Watson – MC
Bubba continues to embarrass us when we do pick him, and humiliate us by winning when we don’t. I’m kicking myself for not staying on the Kaymer bandwagon past the Byron Nelson.
Oil Spill of the Week (Brought to you by BP)
Obviously in a U.S. Open week there’s going to be a lot of carnage, but on Saturday, Toru Taniguchi posted the round we were all waiting for.
Here’s what his day looked like:
NLU Shot Tracker of the Week
No shot tracker this week (by Friday I was sitting at work fidgeting around like a junkie jonesing hard for a fix), but Kenny Perry gave us this amazing hole out from the “native area” (can’t we just call them weeds? Tron now insists on calling his crotch region his “native area. Thanks NBC.):
We also have to celebrate this #ProTraj from Lefty:
#TourSauce of the Week
Justin Rose is like Old Faithful for us with the Tour Sauce. This Follow Through Club Throw looked more like a Yasiel Puig bat flip than a golf shot.
Who did it better? Yasiel Puig or Justin Rose? https://t.co/f1F9lWGCwz
— No Laying Up (@NoLayingUp) June 12, 2014
(GIF’s Courtesy of Adam Sarson, aka the GIF Factory)
The Travelers Championship will serve as the Bloody Mary for our major championship hangover. Ken Duke was the Duke of Cromwell last year, notching his first PGA Tour victory at the age of 44. The outpouring of support and congratulations for him belied a popular personality on tour, so it will be cool to see him defend. On the other end of the age spectrum, keep an eye out for a number of young guys in the field this week on sponsor’s exemptions. This week’s NLU preview will highlight this, as hyping young dudes is certainly our lane. Also curious to see how the women fair on #2 this week, too.