Record day for Kaymer at Pinehurst

By Randall MellJune 13, 2014, 12:30 am

PINEHURST, N.C. – The eyes on the Donald Ross statue behind the clubhouse at Pinehurst No. 2 didn’t narrow menacingly with Martin Kaymer walking up the 18th fairway Thursday in the first round of the U.S. Open.

It only seemed that way.

Kaymer’s 5-under-par 65 wasn’t just good for the lead after day one of the championship. It was the lowest round posted in three U.S. Opens staged on the classic course Ross built here in the sandhills region.

With the leaderboard jammed tight all day long, Kaymer pulled away with a flurry on the back nine late in the afternoon. He birdied three of the final five holes to take a three-shot lead on Kevin Na, Graeme McDowell, Brendon de Jonge and Fran Quinn.

“It’s a tough golf course, I just played really well today,” said Kaymer, 29. “I didn’t make a lot of mistakes. I hit a lot of fairways, and I hit a lot of greens.”

For a guy who couldn’t seem to get comfortable when he was the world No. 1, Kaymer is looking awfully comfortable as he seeks to win his second major championship. He’s looking comfortable of late on some of the most uncomfortable courses in the world.

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Kaymer broke through to win the PGA Championship in 2010 at Whistling Straits. Six months later, he ascended to No. 1 in the world rankings, reigning there for eight weeks before he began to struggle with his swing and then his confidence. They’re both coming back in a big, bold wave, but Kaymer isn’t making too much of it.

“It’s the first round of a very, very important tournament,” Kaymer said. “I’m trying to win as many majors in my career as possible. I won one so far, and I put myself, so far, in a good position here, but we have three rounds to go.

“The golf course will change a lot. You have to adjust a lot more. So, that first round is a good start, but that's it. There's nothing more than that.”

Kaymer won The Players Championship last month on Pete Dye’s diabolical design at the TPC Sawgrass Stadium Course. Kaymer looked comfortable on that claustrophobic track with all that trouble around him. He looked comfortable again Thursday at Pinehurst No. 2.

“He played great,” said Keegan Bradley, the 2011 PGA Championship winner. “He hit the ball in the fairway all day. It was an impressive round, one of the best rounds I've seen, for sure.”

Pinehurst No. 2 was set up so severely in the practice rounds this week. It was slightly softened before the first round, but it wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination.

“Yesterday, I got asked what score I would take on Sunday afternoon, and I said plus 8, because of the way the golf course played on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,” Kaymer said.

Bradley, who shot 69 alongside Kaymer, thought Thursday’s setup was a terrific test.

“It's the best setup I think I've ever played,” Bradley said. “If you hit the ball in the fairway, you can attack and you can make birdies right now. But if you hit the ball in that

waste, even if you've got a good lie, it's hard to hit a good shot.”

Kaymer acknowledges he has learned a lot about himself in his rise and fall as No. 1. He has been quite honest about how he struggled getting comfortable as a major championship winner and a world No. 1. He is candid about how he struggled with the critics who doubted his worthiness atop the world rankings.

“I can understand why they did, because there was not much success after I became the No. 1 in the world,” Kaymer said. “It was understandable for me, but at the same time, it was quite funny, because I knew that it's just crap. I was very secure about myself. I knew what I was doing, and I had a lot of trust in the people that I work with, and there was never any stress.

“So I was very fortunate to be in that position, to experience that, the highs and lows. I'm sure there are going to be other lows in my career at one stage, but I can accept it a lot better.”

Still, Kaymer would prefer to accept a U.S. Open trophy come Sunday.

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Watch: Daly makes birdie from 18-foot-deep bunker

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 11:14 pm

John Daly on Friday somehow got up and down for birdie from the deepest bunker on the PGA Tour.

The sand to the left of the green on the 16th hole at the Stadium Course at PGA West sits 18 feet below the surface of the green.

That proved no problem for Daly, who cleared the lip three times taller than he is and then rolled in a 26-footer.

He fared just slightly better than former Speaker of the House, Tip O'Neill.

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Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

“I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

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Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.

Made Cut

Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

“If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

“The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

September can’t get here quick enough.

Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.

Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

“I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

“My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.

Missed Cut

Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

Tweet of the week:

It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

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Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

“I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.