Kaymer (65) makes the most of sponsor invite


PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – It’s rare for a two-time major champ to require a sponsor invitation, but credit Martin Kaymer for at least putting his to use in the early going at the Honda Classic.

Kaymer received a five-year PGA Tour exemption for his win at the 2014 U.S. Open, but he lost his playing privileges the next year because he didn’t meet the Tour’s minimum start requirement. As a result, the German made just 10 starts last season and still is not a full member.

This week marks his first Tour start outside the WGCs and majors since May, and Kaymer wasted little time in shooting an opening-round 65 at PGA National that put him one shot off the lead.

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“Fortunately I got an invite from the guys here at the Honda Classic, because I really enjoy the golf course,” Kaymer said. “It’s a tricky, ball-striking golf course. I stroked it really well. I didn’t miss many fairways, and it was very playable conditions.”

While Kaymer is making his first Tour start of 2017, he already has three worldwide starts under his belt this year, notably a T-4 finish in Abu Dhabi. Kaymer chipped in for an unexpected birdie on the par-3 17th, then followed with a two-putt birdie on the closing hole to give himself a chance at what would be his first worldwide victory since lapping the field at Pinehurst three years ago.

“I was very calm today. I enjoyed the challenge,” he said. “Mentally, it’s very difficult to play here, and I enjoy that, where you need to think your way around the golf course and not just hit driver as long as possible and try to get it somewhere on the green.”