Martin Kaymer blew away the field at Pinehurst to claim the 114th U.S. Open Championship. Had he not played, it would have been one heckuva tournament. He got the media’s attention with a first round 65. After duplicating the number on Friday, he got the world’s attention.
The thing is although Kaymer claimed his second major championship he is not a complete player. The thoroughbred who notched an 8-shot victory did so only running on three legs. How can this be so? Follow along four-legged frontrunners. I’ll tell you.
On the wider-than-wide Open fairways at Pinehurst, Kaymer placed his tee shots in strategic locations to fire his irons at the “unfriendly” greens. On occasion he was bunkered and responded well. The largest piece of evidence for my claim is when his ball rolled through the crowned green complexes he pulled out his putter to negotiate his way back to the hole. This display means only one thing – THE MAN CAN’T CHIP! Look what he did on #17 at the Players Championship in the final round.
Now you would think someone who ascended back to near the top of the golfing world would be comfortable with wedge or 8-iron from just off the putting surface. Apparently he wasn’t. He preferred to opt for the ground game. No stubs, chili-dips or skulls allowed. Get the ball rolling along the browna-terra-firma and play the percentages. Chipping is not required to shoot 65, TWICE!
Maybe in the old hack-and-gouge Opens of yesteryear Herr Martin might have finished behind some flop-shot wizard. Not at Pinehurst. The USGA presented a canvas of short game options that drove some players crazy while others found the Texas wedge still lives. No need to fire on all cylinders. It’s a four-day drive. Just shift your game out of park and drive it down the fairway then putt it on the green.
Kaymer’s brilliance around the greens showed wonderful patience. He got the job done without a full arsenal. What he did was what so many of us fail to do – he played within himself. Isn’t that what defines U.S. Open Champions? Certainly it is.
Golfers are a curious study. At times they believe they should play the aesthetically pleasing shot rather than one that requires simple execution. The resulting mistakes compound the problem and usually inflate the score. I’ve often believed if you could putt, you could play. Build your game from the green to the tee, not visa versa. Touch is an acquired taste. Kaymer had it in Carolina. We should learn from his deft display.
Today many players are seeking perfection but in this game perfection is unattainable. Maybe a few of the participants at Pinehurst felt like they had to be perfect to hoist the trophy. Not so. Nicklaus captured several majors by simply doing what he did best – play his own game and let the others fret over theirs. In the end the best course/game manager often wins the race.
So if you feel you need to be the “complete” golfer to win a championship, look back on the Open. The only thing required to take the trophy is the lowest score. The numbers that go into the boxes on the scorecard don’t care how they get there. It only matters how they add up, or in this case how they are rolled up – along the ground.