SOUTHAMPTON, Bermuda –David Toms had the best score Tuesday in the PGA Grand Slam of Golf.
PGA champion Martin Kaymer might have had the best feeling.
In an opening day led by the two alternates, Toms got off to a fast start before losing momentum with a pair of bogeys. He still managed a 4-under 67 at Port Royal Golf Course for a one-shot lead over Ernie Els.
The 36-hole event is for the four major champions. Toms replaced British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen, who is recovering from an ankle injury. Els filled in for Masters champion Phil Mickelson, who chose not to play.
U.S. Open champion Graeme McDowell had a 72, while Kaymer brought up the rear with a 74.
Kaymer, however, finally began to realize what he has accomplished this year. The 25-year-old German not only captured his first major in a playoff at Whistling Straits, he has a chance to go to No. 1 in the world with a victory next week in the Andalucia Masters.
Standing on the 16th tee, staring into the serenity of the Atlantic Ocean, Kaymer said it all began to hit him.
“I didn’t play the best golf today,” Kaymer said. “But I was standing on 16 and trying to enjoy the moment. For me, I’m only five years a golf professional. I just thought about, ‘It’s quite stunning to be here already that early in my career.’ It was one of those moments where you realize you’re a winner. It takes some time to realize. It’s not normal what I’ve done the last few years, especially this year.”
Alternates at the PGA Grand Slam of Golf must be former major champions. They are offered a spot depending on how they played in the majors this year. Toms, who won the PGA Championship in 2001, was 5 under through 10 holes and was poised to set the course record. He followed with two bogeys sandwiched around a birdie, however, then closed with five pars.
Els struggled with his putter, but he made enough birdies to stay in the game. Els last won a major in 2002 at the British Open.
“It feels like I left a lot of shots out there, especially on the front nine” Els said. “I think I’m in a good position. Hopefully, I can play a little better tomorrow.”
McDowell made a triple bogey on the 11th hole, then closed with back-to-back birdies for a 72.