Kaymer Birdie Deluge Has U.S. Open Pursuers Chasing Second PlaceMichael Buteau
Can anybody catch Martin Kaymer?
With back-to-back rounds of 5-under-par 65 at the U.S. Open, the 29-year-old German has other golfers wondering if everyone else will be playing for second place this weekend.
“He’s as dialed in as I’ve seen,” Keegan Bradley, who played in Kaymer’s group for two days, told reporters. “It was fun watching him hit every fairway, every green and make every putt, it was pretty awesome.”
Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner, shot 1-under par 69 in yesterday’s second round at Pinehurst Resort’s No. 2 course, leaving him at 2 under par overall, eight shots behind Kaymer.
Kaymer holds a six-shot lead over Brendon Todd, who is making his U.S. Open debut, and is seven ahead of Americans Brandt Snedeker and Kevin Na. Brooks Koepka and Dustin Johnson of the U.S., Zimbabwe’s Brendon De Jonge, and Henrik Stenson of Sweden are tied for fifth with with Bradley at 2 under.
“It’s not a done deal,” Kaymer told reporters. “You don’t approach Saturday and Sunday in a relaxed way. There’s never a time where you can relax. Unless it’s Sunday afternoon and you’re raising the trophy, then you can relax.”
Kaymer’s lead matches the record six-shot margin Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy held after two rounds of the 2000 and 2011 editions, respectively. Woods and McIlroy both won.
About one inch of rain (2.5 centimeters) fell on the course after the opening round, softening the course’s greens for yesterday’s play. The soft conditions allowed Kaymer and other players to get approach shots to stop closer to the holes.
“We could fire a little more aggressively at the pins,” said 2013 Masters Tournament winner Adam Scott, who had four birdies and one bogey in his second round.
Kaymer, who won the Players Championship in Florida last month, is seeking a second major title to add to his victory at the 2010 PGA Championship. He was No. 1 in the Official World Golf Ranking for six weeks in 2011 before sliding to 63rd as recently as April 26.
Kaymer made 11 birdies and landed his tee shots in 25 of 28 fairways, tying for the lead among all players in golf’s second major tournament of the year. Those statistics seemed to catch him off guard.
“It’s very, very satisfying,” he said. “There were a couple of shots today that I was surprised how good they were, because I was not expecting to hit it that close.”
De Jonge, who trails Kaymer by eight after rounds of 68 and 70, said he occasionally looked at the leaderboard while he walked the fairways yesterday. He didn’t quite believe what he saw.
“I looked a couple of times up 16, 17 and 18 just to see that he kept making birdies,” he said. “It’s incredible. I didn’t see a 10 under out there.”
Na, a 30-year-old playing in his third U.S. Open, had rounds of 68 and 69 and jokingly wondered if he and Kaymer were even playing on the same course.
“I heard he played No. 3 course,” Na joked at a resort featuring nine courses. “Is that true? It’s unbelievable what he’s done. I watched some of the shots he hit and some of the putts he’s made and he looks flawless.”
With two more rounds to play, Kaymer said he remains cautious about getting overconfident and playing defensively. And unlike his rivals, Kaymer struggled to describe his performance.
“It gets boring the words that I use,” he said. “I didn’t expect it. I mean, there’s not much to say. It’s just good right now the way I play golf.”