Nick Bonfield discusses Martin Kaymer's dominant performance in the 2014 US Open at Pinehurst No.2
We all know the USGA likes its national championship to be a stringent mental and physical test; a tournament so difficult people often feel compelled to resurrect the ‘is-it-too-hard’ debate.
The answer, in my eyes, is no. I love the test of the US Open, and simply can’t see how something can be deemed unfair when conditions are the same for everyone and success is relative to everyone else in the field,
This year, though, it’s not a debate that’s surfaced, or even been considered. Why? The sheer brilliance of one man: Martin Kaymer.
The German has put on one of the most impressive 36-hole displays in US Open history, and left the USGA scratching their heads in the process.
The US Open in a tournament where par is often good enough to win. Indeed, that was the view of Rob Lee and Ewen Murray when they surveyed Pinehurst before the start of play.
But Kaymer has shown a flagrant disregard for expectation levels and played a different courses to everyone else over the first 36 holes.
He’s shot back-to-back rounds of 65 to set a new tournament record, beating the 131 posted by Rory McIlroy – the only other player to be double-digits under-par after three rounds – en route to victory in 2011.
So far, he’s hit 89% of fairways, 72% of greens, averaged 27 putts and made 3/3 sand saves – a remarkable set of statistics.
But this is the US Open – the toughest test in the sport – and success isn’t defined by the first 36 holes.
Kaymer is playing some of the best golf of his career, but a whole host of superstars are waiting in the wings should his performance drop down from the stratosphere.
The likes of McIlroy, Adam Scott, Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, Matt Kuchar, Ian Poulter and Henrik Stenson are all within 10 shots of the lead.
That might seem a lot, but this is the US Open. Pinehurst will get progressively harder and the USGA – desperate to reign-in the scoring – will almost certainly ensure the course is set-up tougher than the previous two days.
There’s no doubt Kaymer is in control – in fact, no one has blown more than a 4-shot 36-hole lead in US Open history – but anyone suggesting the tournament is already over is deluded.
Either way, it promises to be an intriguing weekend.