- Associated Press - Monday, June 16, 2014

PINEHURST, N.C. (AP) - They could’ve given Martin Kaymer the trophy before the weekend the way he ripped through Pinehurst No. 2 like he was playing the local muni.

Certainly, they could’ve had the ceremony on Saturday, after he shook off five bogeys to maintain a commanding lead at the U.S. Open.

By the time the USGA got around to handing Kaymer his hardware in the fading sunlight Sunday evening, this felt like a coronation that had been delayed far too long.

That’s how dominant Kaymer was.

He played his own event.

Everyone else was in the second flight.

With a performance reminiscent of Rory McIlroy’s domination at Congressional and Tiger Woods’ romp around Pebble Beach, Kaymer blew away the field in the sandhills of North Carolina, on a course that was as tough as advertised - for everyone except the 29-year-old German.

Kaymer closed out his eight-stroke victory with a 1-under 69, the only player in the final eight groups to break par. He finished at 9-under 271 overall; only two other guys managed to get into the red, Erik Compton and Rickie Fowler, tied for second but nowhere close to winning.

“I knew we were playing for second,” said Compton, a two-time, heart-transplant recipient who drew some of the loudest cheers of the week.

Compton was inspiring.

Kaymer was dominant.

With a win last month at The Players Championship - a de facto major - and his rout at Pinehurst, Kaymer has resoundingly reclaimed his place as one of the game’s top players.

He was in that spot not so long ago after winning the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and moving up to No. 1 in the world rankings early the next year. Despite his success, he felt something in his game was missing, the sort of all-around repertoire he would need to stay on top. He had always been successful with the fade, working the ball from left to right, but knew he needed a draw to round things out.

The change was a slow, tedious process, resulting in a winless streak that stretched over 29 tournaments and 18 months.

Now able to work the ball in both directions, he was back on top at Sawgrass.

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