As Germany’s former world No.1 Martin Kaymer skipped away with the US Open at Pinehurst, North Carolina, Australia’s stars were again left searching for answers.
Kaymer chalked up his second major following his 2010 US PGA Championship win, when he cruised to victory by eight shots over Americans Eric Compton and Ricky Fowler, who tied for second.
Jason Day, playing after a layoff due to a thumb injury, finished in a share of fourth at one over par and one ahead of compatriot and current world No.1 Adam Scott, who admitted he needed more from his game at another traditionally unforgiving Open layout.
It was his best career finish in a US Open but Scott clearly had mixed emotions.
"It’s a step in the right direction," he said. "I felt like my game really came into a good spot today, so it would have been nice to have started the day under par and tried to make something happen. But you know, it was just a few too many errors throughout the first three rounds.
"Playing good and playing just OK at a US Open is magnified 10 times from a normal tournament," Scott said. "You can play OK and shoot under par elsewhere. Here, you play OK, you shoot four or five over and don’t feel like you did too much wrong.
"It was the most generous week of a US Open off the tee ever. Those were the biggest fairways you’ll get. So I certainly felt good standing on tee boxes, like I could swing a bit more freely. I’ve just got to play better."
The Queenslander will now take a break in Europe before preparing for next month’s British Open Championship at Hoylake.
Day birdied the second hole as he set out on an improbable task but missed opportunities at five holes. He birdied the 15th but then dropped a shot at the last.
“The goal today was try and go bogey-free and make a move,” Day said. “Obviously the last putt there didn’t help that, but I’m not disappointed at all.
“Being out for so long, this is my second real tournament back after the injury on one of the biggest stages, as well as against the best players in the world so I’m pretty pleased.”
Victorian Aaron Baddeley finished six over the card and claimed a share of 23rd.
Kaymer, who also won the recent Players Championship, sprinted to the finish with three birdies in his final five holes as he confirmed his game had clicked back into shape.
"I just didn’t make many mistakes. I hit a lot of good golf shots and finally I could make some putts," Kaymer said.
The German’s consecutive 65s set the US Open record for low score over the opening two rounds.
"I played very solid the first two days and it gave me a nice cushion," he said. "The challenge was to keep on. Your body tells you you should take it easy and I overcame it."
Kaymer was No.1 in the world from February 28 to April 24, 2011 but he went into a slump shortly after following swing modifications.
His PLAYERS win last month was his first victory in a full-field event since the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions in November 2011.
"It shouldn’t sound cocky or arrogant, but I knew it would come back," Kaymer said. "I didn’t know it would take this long. I feel like I am a more complete player."
The other Australians who had qualified – Geoff Ogilvy, Robert Allenby, Rod Pampling, Matt Jones, John Senden, Brady Watt, Steve Alker, Aron Price and amateur Oliver Goss – all missed the cut.
By: Robert Grant