Kaymer grabs 3-shot lead at Pinehurst
Pinehurst, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Martin Kaymer carded a stellar 5-under 65 on Thursday as he took a 3-shot lead after the opening round of the 114th U.S. Open Championship.
Kaymer, the 2010 PGA Championship and reigning Players Championship winner, posted the first 65 in nine U.S. Open rounds at Pinehurst No. 2. No one had shot that score in the 1999 or 2005 U.S. Opens.
The German has had just one top-10 finish in 13 worldwide starts in 2014, and that was his victory at TPC Sawgrass.
Kaymer has one top-10 finish in six previous U.S. Open starts. He shared eighth in 2010. He also led after an opening 63 at the Players Championship earlier this year, but before that, his last first-round lead was in 2009 on the European Tour.
Graeme McDowell and Kevin Na shared the lead after morning wave ended. They opened with 2-under 68s, and were joined in second place by Brendon de Jonge and Fran Quinn, who played in the afternoon wave.
Henrik Stenson and Matt Kuchar, the second and fifth ranked players in the world, posted 1-under 69s at Pinehurst No. 2. They were among 10 players that opened with 69s.
They were joined in sixth place at minus-1 by Francesco Molinari, Brandt Snedeker, Dustin Johnson, Brendon Todd, 2011 PGA Championship winner Keegan Bradley, Harris English, Masters runner-up Jordan Spieth and Hideki Matsuyama.
Phil Mickelson and Rickie Fowler were among a large group of players that shot even-par 70 to open the second major of the year. Also in that group was Ian Poulter, Jimmy Walker, Steve Stricker and Charl Schwartzel.
Mickelson collected his record sixth runner-up finish at this championship last year. A win here this week would complete the career grand slam.
Fowler tried to gain a little karma by wearing knickers to honor Payne Stewart, the 1999 champion at Pinehurst, who tragically died four months later in a plane crash. Fowler was the last player in the morning wave to make a bogey, but he bogeyed two of his last four holes to post 70.
Rory McIlroy and Webb Simpson, the 2011 and 2012 U.S. Open winners, and former Masters winner Zach Johnson carded 71s on Thursday.
Defending champion Justin Rose had four bogeys in a 6-hole span on the back nine. He rallied with three birdies in his first five holes around the turn, but he bogeyed the eighth, his 17th, to post 2-over 72.
Miguel Angel Jimenez, Bill Haas, Nicolas Colsaerts, Stewart Cink and Jason Dufner also opened with 72s.
Kaymer opened his round with a birdie on the first. After three pars in a row, he birdied the par-5 fifth, which was the easiest hole in the opening round.
The former PGA Champion faltered to a bogey on the par-4 seventh to dip to minus-1. Around the turn, Kaymer atoned for that mistake with a birdie on the par-5 10th.
Kaymer followed three pars in a row with a 3-foot birdie putt on the 14th. That gave him the lead by himself. Kaymer followed with back-to-back birdies at 16 and 17 to jump to minus-5. He 2-putted from the front fringe for par at the last.
"I made a few putts in the end. I hit a lot of good shots on 15, 16 and 17, and finally I could make some putts. The birdies before were really only tap- ins. So I hit the ball really very solid and didn't make many mistakes. It was nice to finish with a par on 18, so I'm very happy," Kaymer said. "When you win the Players, you win a major, at least in my book. I needed something to show me that all the hard work was worth it. That was a huge win."
McDowell, who won his U.S. Open title at Pebble Beach, parred his first three holes. After stumbling to a bogey on the fourth, he came back with an eagle on the par-5 fifth to jump to minus-1.
The Ulsterman ran off eight straight birdies from the sixth. McDowell converted a birdie chance on the 14th to gain a share of the early lead. He closed with four straight pars to end at minus-2.
"Very pleased. You know, this was a golf course where I spent the last few days just preparing myself mentally for the challenge, really, knowing that this golf course wasn't going to give much and it was only going to take. So I really kind of felt like I got my head in the right place the last few days," McDowell stated. "It wasn't my best ball-striking display this morning, but you don't have to strike it amazing around here, you just have to position the ball correctly at all times."
Na, the 2011 Shriners Hospitals for Children Open winner, played the back nine first on Thursday. After three pars in a row, he wrapped birdies at 13 and 15 around a bogey on the 14th.
The 30-year-old parred four straight from the 16th. He stumbled to a bogey on the second to dip back to even-par. Na, like McDowell, made eagle on the fifth to gain a share of the lead. Na chipped in for that eagle.
Na faltered to a bogey on No. 8, but he closed with a birdie on the ninth to finish alongside McDowell.
De Jonge stumbled out of the gates with bogeys on 10 and 11. They were his only bogeys of the day. He flew back to red figures with three birdies in a 4- hole span from the 14th.
The Zimbabwe native parred five in a row around the turn from the 18th. He birdied the fifth, then closed with four more pars to share second.
"I drove the ball nicely. I hit it in a lot of fairways, which was obviously key trying to control it coming into these greens. It sort of set up the golf course for me today," de Jonge stated. "I got off to a bit of a shaky start, and then made a couple of birdies before the turn, which was great."
Quinn also played the back nine first on Thursday. He birdied the 12th and 14th before stumbling to a bogey on No. 18. Quinn moved back to minus-2 with a birdie on the fifth.
The four-time winner on the Web.com Tour tripped to a bogey on the seventh, but closed with a birdie on the par-3 ninth to regain a share of second place.
NOTES: World No. 1 Adam Scott, Jim Furyk, Sergio Garcia and Jason Day carded 73s, former winners Angel Cabrera and Ernie Els posted 74s and Lee Westwood stumbled to a 75, while Nick Watney and Ryan Moore struggled to 76s ... Matthew Fitzpatrick and Oliver Goss, the reigning U.S. Amateur champion and runner-up, both opened with 1-over 71s and are low amateurs by three strokes after one round ... Since 1991, only four champions finished better than 15th in their title defense ... Els and Mickelson are making their 22nd and 21st consecutive U.S. Open starts, while Cink and Furyk are playing their 19th straight U.S. Open.
06/12 20:34:36 ET