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Kaymer finishes a class apart in US Open

Ice cool Martin bags second major after blowing away rivals in ruthless fashion

By Karl MacGinty

Martin Kaymer cruised to a second major title at the end of a historic week in the US Open at Pinehurst.

Looking to become the first German player to win the title but the fourth European in the last five years after Ryder Cup team-mates Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Justin Rose, Kaymer took a five-shot lead into the final round – and he held his nerve to see off the challenge of the chasing pack.

The 2010 PGA Championship winner coasted to his 21st Professional win, finishing on nine-under.

His closest challengers, American Erik Compton and Rickie Fowler shared second spot on one-under.

Successive rounds of 65 – the lowest in a US Open at Pinehurst – meant Kaymer had equalled the lowest halfway total in major championship history (130), as well as eclipsing the US Open record of 131 set by McIlroy at Congressional in 2011.

The 29-year-old's six-shot halfway lead also matched the championship record shared by Tiger Woods (2000) and McIlroy (2011), while he joined McIlroy in becoming the only players to reach double digits under par in the first two rounds.

A third round of 72 after the USGA set testing pin positions on 17 of the 18 holes succeeded in only reducing his lead by a single shot, and Kaymer was quickly among the birdies in the final round.

A bogey on the 12th saw Compton fall further off the pace and when Kaymer holed from 20 feet for birdie on the 13th, he had a seven-shot lead with five holes to play.

And the German held his nerve to finish like a true champion.

Meanwhile, McIlroy and McDowell may have struggled for traction on North Carolina's famous sand hills, but after 72 holes of Major Championship golf on sun-bleached Pinehurst No 2, this week's Irish Open should feel like a walk in the park.

McIlroy and McDowell both set out together last Thursday with high hopes of a second victory at the US Open and the Portrush man set out his stall with a fine first-round 68 to share second, three behind Kaymer.

Yet G-Mac put too much pressure on his short game and, in particular, his putting during Friday's 74, while he consistently went left into trouble on his way to a 75 on Saturday.

Still, after going straight to the range that evening to work on his swing, McDowell opened brightly with two birdies in the first three holes of his final round before settling for a 70 and a finish on the fringe of the top-30 on seven-over. McDowell takes in Open venue Hoylake tomorrow on his way home.

"I made my Irish Open debut there at Fota in 2002 (shooting 65 on Saturday), so I've good memories, good thoughts, going to Co Cork. Along with today's announcement of The Open going to Portrush (in 2019), there certainly are good vibes right now."

While McIlroy failed to capitalise on fabulous ball-striking during his opening 71, a 68 on Friday rekindled dreams of a third Major title.

On Saturday, however, he endured another of those ruinous runs which have cost him a lot of money and sleep recently, scuppering his Pinehurst prospects as he ran-up four bogeys in five holes and five in all during a front-nine 40.

Though not as dramatic as his Sunday afternoon implosion at the 2011 Masters, McIlroy's hopes at Augusta this year were hit by a 40 on that same stretch on Friday.

Then he played the front nine in 40 on Friday at Quail Hollow; followed by a 42 on the front nine in the second round at Sawgrass and 43 on the homeward half at Memorial as he followed a first-round 63 with a nightmare 78.

"Once I get on a run, maybe I try a little too hard to get out of it and end up compounding the issue," he mused. "I need to figure out these nine holes of golf where instead of it being four-over or five-over, maybe one or two-over, just limiting the damage.

"I just need to curb my enthusiasm at times," said the Holywood native, who wrapped up his tournament with a lacklustre three-over 73 to challenge for a top-25 finish on six-over.

"I think I probably played a little better today than yesterday but I'm a little relieved it's all over.

"It's been a struggle this week.

"The course played progressively harder as the week went on and I just wasn't able to control my ball and make birdie chances.

"I'll have to wait another year but going into the Irish Open still playing pretty well."

England's Matthew Fitzpatrick (19) became the first golfer since Bobby Jones in 1930 to hold the title of low amateur at the British and US Opens at the same time after yesterday's 70, featuring four birdies, lifted him into the top-50 on 11-over.

Irish fans can check out Fitzpatrick when he makes his professional debut at Fota Island on Thursday.

Though Shane Lowry and Darren Clarke missed last Friday's cut, both travel in hope to Cork.

Clarke finished with rounds of 65 and 64 for a share of second with Padraig Harrington at Fota in 2001, while Lowry liked the course during three recent rounds.

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