Kaymer shows he is human - well sort of!
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2014 US Open | Wrap | 15 Jun 2014
Martin Kaymer might still have a commanding five shot lead through 54 holes of the 2014 US Open but on day three he at least gave the rest of the field that the result is not yet done and dusted.
A 12 foot birdie putt at the final hole in today’s third round would have been a great boost for the German after a round that included five bogies and an eagle to that point had perhaps given others a at least a glimmer of hope that his long standing lead could be challenged tomorrow.
It might yet be but the manner in which Kaymer kept the round going, after at times appearing to be at least human, gives an indication that this is a man not about to let slide his quest for Germany’s first US Open title.
While the birdie at the last was important it might be that a bogey at the 4th hole might prove to be a key moment in what appears increasingly likely to be his greatest moment in the game. That bogey came after driving it into the pine straw left of the fairway and then making an agonising decision to take an unplayable.
From there he pitched out onto the fairway leaving him still some 165 yards from the hole. His 4th shot finished some 15 feet from the hole but when he converted that he had turned a double, possible triple bogey into a bogey and when he then hit a 7 iron second from the waste land at the par five 5th to four feet and converted for eagle he was back to where he started and his cushion was back intact.
It was crucial twenty minutes in stabilising his position and Kaymer knew it.
“Well, 4, the struggle was I didn’t really understand the English that the referee was trying to tell me,” he would say later. "So I said to my caddie, you have to take over here, because he speaks better English than me, even though he’s Scottish. (Laughter.) So it was an unplayable lie, really. I was hoping for a free drop, but didn’t get that one. And then I made a great up and- down there from 165 yards.
“If you make double bogey, it’s a tough one. It was not a good tee shot, so I didn’t deserve to make par or anything, but bogey would have been acceptable. So that was quite nice to save bogey there. Then fortunately, I could make eagle on the par-5. Again, it was not a great tee shot. It was a fairly good lie and I think I good a little lucky with the second shot. Plus the upslope short of the green killed the ball flight a little bit and then I had only four feet to make eagle.”
He would make other mistakes but that bogey save and follow up eagle turned the tide on a potentially much worse round and although he putted his lengthy birdie attempt off the green at the very next hole he consolidated with a run of pars before bogeys at the 13th and 15th saw the difference just three.
The birdie at the last was again from the waste land and he now heads into tomorrow’s final round with a five shot lead over Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton who both gained five shots on the leader and moved into a share of second as others came then went.
Henrik Stenson and Dustin Johnson are next at 2 under and six shots from the lead while the only other player under par is Brandt Snedeker at 1 under and seven shots from the lead.
As has been the case from his opening round of 65 this is now Kaymer’s US Open to win or lose. He holds the key to the trophy’s destination tomorrow evening and although he displayed a certain level of fallibility today, even if he does go backwards tomorrow then others will have to move forwards and over this great layout that is easier said than done.
Kaymer’s round was obviously seven shots worse than what he had recorded in the opening two rounds but he was not too disappointed and was pleased to have been able to recover the way he did and even described the day as fun.
“Yeah, especially the way I started. I made three bogeys the first six holes. Therefore, I kept it very well together. I didn’t play as good as the first two days. Today, what I said earlier to you, I think the USGA, they listened yesterday, unfortunately, and they put the pins in very, very tough positions. I think 18 was the only pin where you could be aggressive. The other flags, if you hit it to 25 feet, it was a good shot. So I didn’t see many birdies out there, I guess Erik and Rickie, they saw a few more. But overall, 2-over par, the way I played today was fun.”
Kaymer has taken on a whole new mindset over the past few months and the results are there for everyone to see. His win at the Players was perhaps the first real indication that there had been a massive change of fortunes.
Well, I watched “Bagger Vance” yesterday, and he said, “At the end of the day we’re playing a game.” And that is what we’re doing. We can’t control a lot of things that happen on the golf course. You have to play the game. And if you try to control your swing, if you try to control everything, which is a little bit the way I am as a person, I like to be in control of things. It’s the way I think a lot of Germans are. but at the end of the day, you have to feel on the golf course. You have to create that feel and trust your skill and all the work.
“Today when I was standing on 18, that’s a tough tee shot. There’s pretty much no fairway. It’s very difficult to see any fairway from the back tee. So you stand there and for me it was such an enjoyable shot, because I knew exactly where I wanted to aim and I thought, what a great position this is now. You are 7-under par at the U.S. Open, playing your third round. It’s the final hole, it would be nice to finish it off with a birdie.
“But if you can pull it off, you gain some confidence. So it was a very, very nice thing. And it’s about that feel, that touch, that you play with your heart, that you can’t control too many things and that’s what I was trying to do the last three years.
“Now I just play.”
Erik Compton is proving to be one of the great stories of the week. The multiple heart transplant recipient has yet to win on the PGA Tour but tomorrow he has a chance to make his first arguably the greatest event an American can win.
Compton has played only one US Open previously that coming in 2010 at Pebble Beach where he missed the cut but he does not dismiss his chances of what might be a story that would go down in golfing folklore along the lines of Francis Ouimet, Tiger Woods or Ben Hogan in terms of overcoming adversity to win.
“You got to give me a break, I just had a new heart when I was at Pebble Beach. But I think I’ve had an excellent year this year and I feel really comfortable out on the golf course. My swing has come around, I’m putting really well, so, you know, we’re playing against the same guys. I think the conditions are extremely difficult, and when it gets really hard, I seem to really focus.
“I’m very hard on myself, but I’m also easy to get over it. So I think a U.S. Open style kind of fits my game and seems like the harder golf courses, I’ve had good finishes this year. It’s a great tournament and hopefully I have a great day tomorrow and you never know what can happen.”
Jason Day and Adam Scott head the Australians in a share of 16th position although 11 shots from the leader. Aaron Baddeley is next in 24th place and one shot further back.
Scott was a gain rueing his inability to capitalise on a good start.
“Yeah, today was a bit of a letdown. Every round I’ve got under par or after the first half a dozen holes and only one day I’ve managed to keep it going. So that’s a little disappointing. It’s just the way it is out here. I wish I could have hit a couple more greens today, but it probably wasn’t my iron play, it was probably my tee shots. I found myself in the waste area a couple more times than other days, and ultimately I think that cost me a couple of looks at it. And it makes a big difference when you talk about momentum and flow of a round.”
Tomorrow Martin Kaymer has the US Open at his mercy. A round of even par perhaps even higher should be comfortably enough to see him take the title. If however he falters at all then half a dozen players probably still feel they have a chance.