PINEHURST, N.C. -- After firing back-to-back 65s on the first two days of the U.S. Open, Martin Kaymer declined to set goals for the weekend knowing anything could happen, particularly on the firm and fast layout known as Pinehurst No. 2.
"I'm not really into goals," he said. "I just want to play."
Wow, did he ever.
Thanks to steely nerves and an incredible display of putting, Kaymer lapped the field in the 114th national championship. He closed with a 1-under 69 and won by eight strokes. He became the first German to win the trophy, carding the second-lowest score, a 9-under 271, in Open history.
With the victory, Kaymer, 29, became only the fifth player in history to win two majors -- he also captured the 2010 PGA Championship -- and hold the No. 1 world ranking for a time before the age of 30. He joins an impressive list that also counts Tiger Woods, Seve Ballesteros, Ernie Els and Rory McIlroy.
Kaymer became the seventh player in Open history to win after holding the outright lead following each of the first three rounds, and first since McIlroy at Congressional in 2011.
Still, Kaymer said the Sunday pressure was present right from the first tee.
"The challenge was not to think too much about that trophy, not to think too much about ... what you're going to say," he said. "Not too much thinking about how you might celebrate on 18.
"It goes through your head and I'm sure a lot of players feel the same way. Not many talk about it, but it is what it is. We are humans, we're not robots."
However, Kaymer settled down after making solid shots in his first six holes and getting to 1 under for his round, which was "the most important thing, to stay in control of the golf tournament."
Rickie Fowler, who tied Erik Compton for second at 279, played alongside Kaymer in the final pairing but didn't put much heat on him after a double bogey at No. 4. Compton got as close as four shots when his birdie at the eighth hole moved him to 4 under and Kaymer bogeyed No. 7 to drop to 8 under, but that's as close as anyone got.
"It was fun watching how he controlled himself out there," said Fowler, who shot a final-round 72, as did Compton. "He's a very deserving champion."
It's been a fabulous comeback for Kaymer. He beat Bubba Watson in a playoff to win the 2010 PGA and rose to No. 1 in the rankings the next year. But he gradually slid notch by notch and fell to a low of 63rd in April.
However, his career arc changed after he went wire-to-wire and won the Players Championship last month. He grew more confident in the swing changes he had made and showed this week that he had the complete package.
"He's one of the best," caddie Craig Connolly said.
MCT Information Services contributed to this report.
Martin Kaymer 65-65-72-69--271
Rickie Fowler 70-70-67-72--279
Erik Compton 72-68-67-72--279
Dustin Johnson 69-69-70-73--281
Adam Scott 73-67-73-69--282
Matt Kuchar 69-70-71-73--283
Justin Rose 72-69-70-72--283
Jordan Spieth 69-70-72-73--284
Rory McIlroy 71-68-74-73--286
Phil Mickelson 70-73-72-72--287
Sergio Garcia 73-71-72-72--288
Ernie Els 74-70-72-72--288
U.S. Open Largest Margins
15: 2000, Tiger Woods (272), Miguel Angel Jimenez and Ernie Els (287), Pebble Beach Golf Links
11: 1899, Willie Smith (315), George Low, Val Fitzjohn and W.H. Way (326), Baltimore C.C.
9: 1921, James Barnes (289), Walter Hagen and Fred McLeod (298), Columbia C.C., Chevy Chase, Md.
8: 2011, Rory McIlroy (268), Jason Day (276), Congressional C.C.-Blue Course, Bethesda, Md.
8: 2014, Martin Kaymer (271), Erik Compton and Rickie Fowler (279), Pinehurst (N.C.) No. 2.