What Course is Martin Kaymer Playing?

Third Round of US Open Underway

I’ve had the feeling through the first two days of the long-awaited men’s US Open that Martin Kaymer has been playing some merciful muni course in my hometown while everyone else has to play Pinehurst, fake rough and all. I am assured, however, that such is not the case, and that Kaymer is just playing the lights out, and threatening to run away with this distinctly Western Hemisphere tournament.

If this were the third round, I’d be oohing and ahhing all over Kaymer’s level of play – as it is, I’m very impressed. He has the course’s number, and nobody else seems to have gotten it yet. However, a six stroke lead going into the third round is not substantial enough to bank on in any way. If he can play one more round like the first two, however, the US Championship might live in Germany for the next year.

martin 1 Kaymer might be an unknown quantity to the less attentive American audience, but he’s no lightweight making a surprise appearance. We know from the European Tour (where he customarily resides) that the continent on the other side of the Atlantic has some big guns. It’s also worth noting that it was Kaymer who sank the American hopes for a Ryder Cup triumph in 2012 by erasing a four-point deficit in the final day, sinking the last putt to seal the deal on 18.
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I’m sure there’s a segment of the golf population out there who needs to have an American win an American tournament in order to sleep well at night. If a foreigner has to win it, let it be a Canadian, or a Tahitian. Think about it, after all, Martin Kaymer is from Dusseldorf (sorry, can’t find the umlaut) – Dusseldorf, you ask? Hey, that’s not in Kansas!

Fear not – Europe isn’t invading, and if it makes you feel any better, Kaymer is a resident of Scottsdale, Arizona, and although that’s not in Kansas, either, it’s close enough. Besides, Dusseldorf’s a great town, sitting on the picturesque Rhine.

martin 2If Kaymer had been an unknown upstart, I would check my watch every few seconds to follow his evaporation, but we’re talking about a ten-time winner on the PGA and European Tours, along with one or two others. He’s been a pro since 2005. He’s about thirty years of age, which puts him in the sweet spot for being young enough to crank it, and old enough to avoid over-playing. He’s a former number one in the world, however briefly in 2011, and as regards nerves – remember the final putt in the Ryder Cup, enough said.
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Those who are chasing Kaymer through the final two rounds are good golfers, but after Graeme MacDowell, none of the luminaries we’ve come to expect are present, especially he-who-must-not-be-named. Even Rory, one of those affable, charming foreigners that some are eager to adopt as one of their own, has failed to make a charge.

Sooner or later, probably today, it will become clear that Martin Kaymer is playing the same course as everyone else, and will probably not hijack the US Open without a good fight. But, on the other hand, we shouldn’t expect him to crumble from inexperience, lack of nerve, or a so-so golf past. He’s been there, he’s real, and he’s good. If you’re one of those who needs an American winner, remember that it was we who called it an “Open,” so quit whining and be a good neighbor – it’s golf.

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