Kaymer makes statement at Pinehurst
BY Bruce Young | US PGA Tour | 2014 US Open | Round One | 13 Jun 2014
Late on day one of the 2014 US Open at Pinehurst in North Carolina, Germany’s Martin Kaymer has broken clear of a congested leader-board and with a 5 under par 65 has established a three shot lead over the field.
It is the best round recorded in a US Open at Pinehurst and after appearing all day as if the golf course would be the winner on day one but despite his late tee time and the firmer golf course and windier conditions he experienced as a result, Kaymer was simply brilliant.
Two early birdies got his round underway but after making the turn in just one under he would be home in 31 to break clear of Northern Ireland’s Graeme McDowell, Zimbabwe’s Brendon De Jonge and Americans Kevin Na and Fran Quinn.
The large group just one shot further back includes the world number three and five Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar but also there are Dustin Johnson, Brandt Snedeker, recent PGA Tour winners, Brenton Todd and Hideki Matsuyama, the brilliant Jordan Spieth, Harris English, Francesco Molinari and Harris English.
The leaderboard appeared as if it would reflect a layout that evened out the field until Kaymer’s late statement although Kaymer aside there are 66 players within four shots of second position so only Kaymer has gotten a break of the field at this stage.
The USGA watered the greens early on Thursday morning after the predicted storms has missed Pinehurst the previous evening and took some of the anticipated sting out of the layout.
Kaymer, who just over a month ago recorded an emphatic victory at the Players Championship, has returned to the level of golf that saw him as the world number one previously and a major winner when successful at the 2010 USPGA Championship at a golf course that could be argued has similarities to the Pinehurst layout.
Kaymer opened with a round of 63 at the Players Championship and was never out of the lead from that point so the signs are good for the 29 year year old especially given he will have an early tee time (8.02) on day two.
Perhaps understandably Kaymer felt Pinehurst No 2 was very playable.
“It was very playable,” he said after his round. "As I said earlier, I watched some golf in the morning and I think it was the Stenson group that I watched and he was hitting a 6-iron to that par-3 on 15 and the ball didn’t release much, like two or three yards maybe. And it was not really possible on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, even though I played in the morning then, it was very firm already.
“So they must have softened the greens a little bit and therefore it’s quite nice when you play late on Thursday, that you can watch some golf in the morning and try to adjust mentally because you know going into the first round. Last night I thought that it’s going to be very, very firm in the afternoon, you have to — just the front of the green really matters that you can let it bounce into the green.
“But actually it was more playable than I thought. I think that made a big difference mentally that you feel like that there are actually some birdies out there, not only bogeys.
“It (Pinehurst No 2) plays a little bit like a tournament somewhere in Australia, little linksy style, you know, and the golf course gets only firmer and faster. So I think that therefore, it should become a little bit shorter which doesn’t mean it’s easier. Because you think greens are going to get firmer, so it will equal out.
“I like to play those kind of golf courses, which is, on the other hand, when usually you should only go for middle of the green here, which is very smart, it’s the way to play smart, but only when the greens are firm. Today it was different, you could go for a few flags. But I liked the way the golf course played today.”
The pre tournament favourite Rory McIlroy had mixed emotions about his day in which he opened with a round of 73.
“It’s been too long since I finished, can’t really remember,” said McIlroy. The golf course was set up pretty scorable today, I felt. There was a few pin positions on the front of the greens. There was still some moisture in the greens. A few tees were moved up. What we saw this morning out there on that golf course is probably the most scorable it’s going to be all week. I played well. I hit 14 greens. I think I only
missed one fairway.
“I struggled with my speed on the greens. That was the only thing that really let me down today. But I played to my spots, stayed patient and was rewarded with a nice birdie at the last. It was a grind out there at times, but I think to shoot plus 1 is a solid day.
World number one Adam Scott also struggled with his short game.
“Yeah, a little disappointed, said the Australian. "I think I played a little better than what I ended up shooting. Around this kind of golf course, I just put it down to my short game not being spot on today. A couple of times I missed greens, I didn’t get up and down. It wasn’t really that hard to, but you have to scramble hard at a U.S. Open, and especially this one. But not too much damage done, either.
“It was a nice surprise to see the greens soft today. Much softer than the last three days. So the scores — well, the shots in at least reflected that.”
While disappointed Scott was not despondent and feels he has not shot himself in the foot at this stage. “Tomorrow morning if it’s similar I’d like to kind of move in the right direction. But you know how it’s going to be at the end of the week. We’re going to be looking at even par and something around that mark. It would be nice to move the other way tomorrow and get myself in good shape starting out Saturday.”
The leading Australian at the end of day one is Aaron Baddeley whose round of 70 has him in a share of 16th position while amateur Oliver Goss and John Senden are one shot further back.
Jason Day, Adam Scott, Rod Pampling and Geoff Ogilvy are at three over 73 and in a share of 68th position so need good rounds tomorrow to be inside the top 60 who will make it to the weekend.
Given current circumstances the cut is likely to fall around 4 over.