PINEHURST, N.C. – Martin Kaymer birdied three of his last five holes, finishing with a 5-under par 65 and took a commanding lead over the field following Round One in the 2014 U.S. Open at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club on Thursday.
Kaymer’s finish, the lowest round in a U.S. Open played at Pinehurst and lowest USGA championship opening round since 2011, topped a two-under par finish for both Kevin Na and 2010 U.S. Open winner Graeme McDowell, who were the early clubhouse leaders by the time Kaymer’s group teed off.
“Overall I just hit very good shots,” Kaymer said.
“I didn’t miss many greens, and therefore I could avoid a lot of bogeys.”
Kaymer finished with six birdies and a bogey, playing a clean back nine that included four birdies.
Throughout the afternoon, he methodically made his way around a drying No. 2 course that was showing it as evidenced by increased brown tint to the edges of the fairways and many spots throughout.
A few others like Brendon De’Jonge and journeyman pro Fran Quinn managed to end the afternoon shooting in red numbers and joined Na and McDowell with their own 68’s to sit tied for second place.
Kaymer hit 13 of 14 fairways, averaging 300 yards off the tee, 20 yards more than the field, but could only hold 11 of 18 greens in regulation on the challenging green complexes that are the signature of the Donald Ross gem.
Many players had indicated leading into the tournament that short game play would make the difference, and it was Kaymer who did it the best during the opening round.
Recovering effectively, he managed to set himself up on the short grass to finish with an efficient 25 putts that vaulted him to the top of the leaderboard.
“Well, it’s only the first round and usually the golf course only gets more difficult,” Kaymer said.
“So I think if you stay around level par, you can’t be that far away from winning the golf tournament. Even though I shot 5-under par now, which is obviously an exceptional score, it’s very nice to lead the tournament right now.”