The Grind: Kaymer cruises, Compton lifts hearts, and Johnny's emotional (U.S. Open) farewell
By Alex Myers
Welcome to another edition of The Grind, where we're kicking ourselves for not making that Martin Kaymer wins the U.S. Open/Germany wins the World Cup combo bet (365/1 odds!). How did we not see this coming? Kaymer doesn't just win every big golf event these days, he leads after every round, and the Germans only thrashed Portugal 4-0 in their first game. But we'll try not to think about all of the potential money/lavish dinners at chain restaurants lost by the decision to go with Sergio Garcia/Spain instead (SIGH), and focus on what's happening in golf. Despite Kaymer's one-man show at Pinehurst, there's still plenty to talk about.
Kaymer beat the field, the course, and even Mike Davis.
Martin Kaymer: In 20 years, will this be the week we look back on as the time Martin Kaymer really established himself as an all-time great golfer? The German didn't just win the U.S. Open, he was like a BMW switching to the left lane and passing a bunch of go-carts (to continue the German engineering cliche). Kaymer broke the 36-hole scoring record and was on cruise control the entire weekend, winning by eight shots to claim his second major. Throw in wins at the Players and a WGC, sinking the winning putt at a Ryder Cup and being a former World No. 1 and you've got the makings of a legendary career.
Erik Compton: Kaymer's dominance left everyone playing for second, but at least it produced the most incredible runner-up story in golf history. Compton arrived at Pinehurst for his 100th career PGA Tour start with just one more career top 10 (three) than he's had heart transplants. Somewhere, Kevin Costner is putting together the sports movie to top all of his sports movies. "Tin Heart"? That doesn't make sense. "Pull Durham"? Hmm, closer. "Heart of Dreams"? Got it!
Pinehurst No. 2: The course looked better than ever -- and even better in person -- and provided a great all-around test for the world's best golfers. Sure, there were critics like Donald Trump who scoffed at Pinehurst's brown look, but that was an intentional and sensible move by the USGA that hopefully, other courses will follow. Besides, should we really take seriously someone who is on record saying Trump National Golf Club Los Angeles is better than Pebble Beach?
Martin Kaymer: You thought we were done talking about this guy? Nope. When you win the U.S. Open by eight shots, you get a little extra pub. In fact, we created a special slideshow of 17 things you need to know about Martin Kaymer. Read it, study it, memorize it. At 29, he's not going anywhere.
Phil Mickelson: Perhaps it's unfair to expect so much from a player, but that's what happens when you finish runner-up at the same tournament six times. Despite oozing excitement at the start of the week, Mickelson made it clear by Friday he wouldn't capture the career Grand Slam this year. His poor putting continued, and it didn't help that after saying he'd be using the claw grip on Pinehurst's greens, he switched back to his normal grip on Friday.
Bubba Watson: The Masters champ seemed out of the tournament before it began following a Tuesday press conference in which he didn't seem thrilled with Pinehurst's setup. Watson certainly has the talent to be an all-time great, but does he have the attitude/focus/consistency needed? This marks the second time he's missed the cut at the U.S. Open after slipping on a green jacket.
Weekend drama: How do you say "sucked the life out of the golf tournament and turned it into a complete snoozefest" in German? At one point on Sunday, this was the scene in media dining, with a guy glued to a TV watching . . . "Tin Cup."
Kaymer the conqueror turned the weekend into a coronation, leaving few interesting storylines (thank goodness for Erik Compton!) other than how NBC would wrap up its final U.S. Open broadcast after 20 years. Speaking of which. . .
Saying goodbye to NBC: Sunday TV ratings were down 46 percent, but don't blame NBC. The network gave us tremendous coverage of the U.S. Open as always and kept the focus on golf and not themselves (Although the crew -- minus Johnny -- is sticking around this week for the U.S. Women's Open). We'll miss Johnny, Yanni, and . . . (Be strong, Alex! Be strong!) the rest of the gang.
The PGA Tour heads north to Cromwell, Conn., for the Travelers Championship, aka that tournament with an ominous big umbrella as its logo.
Random tournament fact: Patrick Cantlay, then a 19-year-old amateur attending UCLA, shot a second-round 60 at this event in 2011. Somehow, he only finished T-24.
RANDOM PROP BETS OF THE WEEK
-- Johnny Miller will get as emotional at the end of his final Honda Classic broadcast: 1 million-to-1 odds
-- You'll routinely start seeing more amateurs hacking balls on the range with tennis balls hanging from their necks: Even odds
-- It won't work nearly as well for them: LOCK
THIS WEEK IN PAULINA GRETZKY-DUSTIN JOHNSON PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION PROTECTION
Even with me at Pinehurst, isn't this just a little over the top?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"I did like it, though. Some of them are very pretty." -- Martin Kaymer on sharing Pinehurst's practice area with LPGA members before Sunday's final round.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
This guy, who was driving NBC on-course reporter Roger Maltbie around Pinehurst No. 2 in a golf cart, was arrested during Saturday's round. Luckily, our Charles Laberge was there to snap a few photos of the odd scene.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK (NOT INVOLVING AN ARREST)
The dual-U.S. Open vibe carried over into the celebration as Sandra Gal continued an LPGA tradition of dousing the winner.
VIRAL VIDEO OF THE WEEK
Golfweek caught up to Johnny Miller as he came down from the TV tower following Sunday's broadcast. An honest Miller says he wishes he could be at Chambers Bay for next year's U.S. Open, but instead, will probably host a BBQ while he watches on TV.
Tiger Woods is back to hitting full shots at his home course. Phew! Did we mention how bad the U.S. Open TV ratings were? . . . United Airlines lost Rory McIlroy's golf clubs while he traveled from the U.S. Open to the Irish Open. Is this part of that supposed spell Caroline Wozniacki cast on him? . . . Jason Day looks healthy again, finishing T-4 at Pinehurst for his seventh top-10 finish in 15 major starts. Thanks for winning me the office fantasy pool, Jason. . . . Good thing I won that pool because this (above) is what happens when you forget to bring a second pair of shorts to go cover a golf tournament for a week.
RANDOM QUESTIONS TO PONDER
How many majors will Martin Kaymer win?
Who will write Fox's U.S. Open theme song?
How does Johnny Miller rank his skills on the grill?