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Martin Kaymer reflects on US Open win as he returns to scene of triumph

At the age of 29, Martin Kaymer was a two-time major winner, former world number one and the man who secured the winning point in the 2012 Ryder Cup.

Ten years on, the German heads back to the scene of his runaway US Open triumph at Pinehurst with no more accolades on his CV and a refreshingly honest answer when asked if he ever thought that would be the case.

"I would have laughed probably. I wouldn't have believed you," Kaymer told the PA news agency.

"I'm actually a bit surprised as well that I haven't won. I had many chances between 2014 and 2019. I had so many chances to win golf tournaments — for several different reasons I didn't."

One of those reasons was a wrist injury Kaymer admits he wishes he had undergone surgery on sooner, but perhaps the biggest was a collapse in the final round of the Abu Dhabi Championship in 2015.

Six shots clear after three days, Kaymer extended his advantage to 10 early in the final round, only to slump to a closing 75 and third-place finish behind France's Gary Stal.

"That was pure ignorance and arrogance from myself," Kaymer concedes. "I was leading by 10 and then I made a double bogey and triple bogey and stuff.

"The others made a couple of birdies and it looked even worse than it was, but it was a great wake-up call in a humbling situation, an experience that shows even though you've won the majors and this and that, at the end of the day golf always wins.

"I'm very happy with my career, and I know why I haven't been on top of the leaderboard the last three, four years, but now I can focus on all the good stuff again.

"Mentally I'm ready to win again. I don't know if it will happen soon or maybe I need to wait another year, but I'm not stopping chasing that win. There's nothing holding me back now."

Remarkably, Kaymer has yet to record a single top 10 since joining LIV Golf in 2022, a far cry from 2014 when he followed a wire-to-wire victory in the Players Championship with another in the US Open just five weeks later.

Despite the lack of narrow fairways and thick rough typical of US Open venues, Kaymer felt the firm conditions and Pinehurst's crowned greens would still provide a tough test, only to leave the field trailing in his wake with back-to-back rounds of 65.

"I did an interview Tuesday or Wednesday after my practice round and I said that the winning score would probably be two or three over par," Kaymer recalled.

"I felt a little like an idiot when I was 10 under after two rounds. Obviously it surprised me as well but the key to those two rounds was definitely how well I putted."

Kaymer relied heavily on a "Texas wedge" from off the green — using a putter rather than chipping — but revealed for the first time that his actual wedges were the subject of a confirmation check on the morning of the final round.

"Sunday morning, very early, I got a phone call from the USGA," Kaymer said.

"They needed to have a look at my wedges because they didn't think they conformed with the rules and regulations. So I had to go to the golf course at 8.30am even though I was not playing until two o'clock or so.

"It was a bit of a joke because they came to my golf bag, they had a look at one of the wedges for maybe three seconds and then said, 'OK, that's fine'.

"Those sort of mind games, I thought it was just funny. I was used to that from the Ryder Cup, so I didn't really mind."

With that distraction dealt with, Kaymer could focus on turning a five-shot lead into his second major title and it proved to be something of a Sunday stroll, with his advantage never less than four and ultimately eight over Rickie Fowler and Erik Compton.

"I could enjoy it when I was on the 16th tee box," Kaymer said.

"Before that I was so stuck within myself, I was really trying to shoot a good score. It was a difficult balance because it's never easy leading by that many shots and everybody, including yourself, are expecting you to win.

"If there's a guy who shoots eight or nine under par, which there's always one of those, then fair enough.

"But I was proud of the way I handled it mentally. The golf game was there anyways, but to stay within yourself, really focus on you and actually doing it was really nice."

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