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“I’m trying to stay in exactly the same room. It can’t hurt.” 

Martin Kaymer is finalising travel plans ahead of his first return to Pinehurst No.2 – the scene of his utterly dominant US Open win in 2014 – and while so much has changed in that ten years, he is keen to keep some familiarity.

The last time this tournament was staged at the famed North Carolina layout, the German turned golf’s most uncompromising major into a procession.

“I still watch the highlights once in a while,” the former world No.1 tells And no wonder.

Kaymer strolled to an eight-shot victory that week, making a mockery out of the field with his nine-under aggregate score. He opened 65-65 to effectively end the US Open by the time the weekend rolled around. Only two other players – Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton – finished the week under par.

Nobody has won a men’s major more convincingly since an otherworldly Tiger Woods romped the same competition by 15 shots at Pebble Beach back in 2000.

Surely then, this is the best golf Kaymer ever played? “No, that was in 2011 when I won by five or six shots in Abu Dhabi,” he stresses. It was easily the most exhausting, though.

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“I was leading by five or six shots after two days. It’s very difficult to continue with that kind of golf.  I was very proud of myself with the way I continued playing until Sunday afternoon. You are not trying to hold onto something. You are actually thinking, ‘OK, today I have another chance to shoot another low score at Pinehurst’.

“I don’t really know how you do it in golf but sometimes you just don’t have negative thoughts – they don’t appear. It does happen sometimes. I wish I could feel it more often. When those moments come, your mindset is only birdies, only good things. Thankfully those positive thoughts came up all week.”

Pinehurst No.2 was – and still is – such a unique US Open test. The USGA doesn’t rely on gnarly knee-deep rough and narrowed fairways to tame the world’s best here. In fact, you won’t have to worry about rough at all.

The challenge of this Donald Ross masterpiece is in its snooker table-sized greens, tormenting run-off areas and lightning fast fairways.

“I’ve been playing many US Open courses in the last 15 years and Pinehurst is very fast and very firm,” Kaymer says. “It’s a mix of the British Open and US Open and I really fancied my game at that time. A lot of tee shots really suited my eye. I didn’t really see many miss shots on that golf course.”

The champion’s real secret to mastering Pinehurst, though? The Texas wedge.

“It really helped me take double bogeys out of the equation,” Kaymer says. “When you miss a green, I’m sure there were so many players who hit poor chip shots and it came back to you because all those greens are on a crown and that made me feel really comfortable.

“With my positive experience from The Players that I had been playing really well, I just needed to handle the short game. Using the Texas wedge and being pretty good within ten feet that week gave me a lot of confidence to play well.” 

Kaymer makes his winning formula sound so easy. His road to becoming a two-time major champion was anything but.

He won the PGA Championship in 2010 and reached the summit of the rankings a few months later, but spent most of the following two seasons in the wilderness – and on the driving range – in a desperate and at times questionable search of the complete golf swing.

A month on from glory at TPC Sawgrass, this appeared to have marked a full rebirth.

“I was most proud with the way I won it,” he smiles. “Always playing forward. Never looking back. Never compared myself to other players or what I was like yesterday. I played from scratch every day and it was really difficult to do. 

Kaymer has not won a tour event since the US Open ten years ago (Credit: Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

“Winning one major is big. That’s our career goal when you look back and talk about legends. They have all won majors. If you can win one that’s great, but if you win multiple it proves to yourself you can do it at different locations and every major is different. If you can win two and play a different kind of golf it makes you a more complete major winner.”

The most emotionally-charged moment Kaymer ever had on a golf course was when he completed the Miracle of Medinah in 2012. That magical Ryder Cup Sunday will never be topped. “The US Open is definitely number two.” he stresses.

Having spent the past two seasons on the LIV Golf circuit and still without a tour win since his last visit to Pinehurst, Kaymer admits he is now well into the back-nine of his garlanded professional career.

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“So far, I’m satisfied,” the 39-year-old says when asked if his achievements have met his expectations.

“I don’t know what hole I’m at in my career. I’d say 12 or 13. I would still think there’s a chance within the next five years. Anything after that I doubt it – even though Phil Mickelson won the PGA when he was 50.

“You’ve got to be realistic and honest with yourself. I’m very happy with my two majors but I’d like to participate in a few more because I still feel I’ve got the abilities to give myself a chance. I wouldn’t enter the PGA Championship and the US Open if I didn’t think I could win. It would be against my mindset.”

The conversation returns to Pinehurst.

“I know me as a person and my swing has changed – for better or worse, I don’t know,” Kaymer says. “But I will definitely have a lot of positivity standing back there, going to the 18th green, where I lifted that trophy. 

“I’m preparing quite nicely and I’m in decent form. I’ve been playing good over the last few events, no injuries, no issues. Hopefully there’s a little comeback on the horizon.”

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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