“I told my caddie we should keep the ball because I’ve never done it before,” Kaymer said after posting a 3-under 69 at Quail Hollow Golf Club. “It’s very rare.”
Kaymer hit a rescue club to 15 feet at the seventh, converting the putt for his first eagle at the 517-yard par 5. He holed a pitch from 66 yards for his second eagle at the eighth.
“It was a very difficult pitch, and I would have taken a 3 there,” Kaymer said. “It was a big bonus.”
Kaymer, 29, who won the 2010 PGA Championship and reigned as the world No. 1 for eight weeks in 2011, is seeking his first victory since winning the WGC-HSBC Champions in November of 2011. He’s No. 63 in the world but looking to move up again with a new swing.
“My game is very good, but my putting holds me back a little bit,” Kaymer said. “I’ve worked a lot on my swing, so I couldn’t spend that much time on the putting green.
“If the putting would be decent, I would shoot a lot better scores.”
Kaymer holed the clinching putt to cement Europe's historic Ryder Cup comeback against the Americans at Medinah two years ago. While Kaymer has shown flashes of his best form the last couple seasons, he hasn’t shown the kind of consistency that won him eight European Tour titles and two PGA Tour titles.
Kaymer began re-working his swing with his long-time coach, Gunter Kessler, after the Masters in 2011. He had climbed to No. 1 feeling like he was a one-dimensional player who relied too much on a fade. So, he went to work trying to fashion a swing that could work the ball both ways, to address a weakness Augusta National exposed.
“It’s improved a lot,” Kaymer said. “I can hit any shape now. There are no restrictions anymore. Before, I could only hit the fade, and that was it. It was a very safe, secure swing, but you have to hit different tee shots, especially here [at Quail Hollow]. It’s a lot better than two or three years ago.”
Kaymer said the swing changes were more involved than he imagined.
“I’m done maybe two months ago,” Kaymer said. “So, it’s almost three years. I thought it would take maybe four or five months. It did take a lot longer than I thought, but I’m happy with the way it turned out. It’s a big improvement.”
Kaymer’s hopeful better putting will get him back atop leaderboards.
“It’s just a matter of time,” Kaymer said. “If I get the putts going, hopefully we’ll have a lot more interviews together.”