US Open 2014: A second 65 puts ‘awesome’ Kaymer in a class of his own

 

Pinehurst

Take that, and that, and that - the soundtrack of the morning at Pinehurst as Martin Kaymer continued to take lumps out of the US Open field. A second successive 65, unprecedented in this tournament, maintained the slaughter of his opening round.

 

Those closest to him overnight, Graeme McDowell and Kevin Na, both three back at breakfast, were eight adrift by the time they walked to the first tee. The deficit to Kaymer stood at six at the close with Brendon Todd taking up the challenge on four under par. McDowell drifted out of the picture despite an opening birdie and Na shot a 69 to close seven in arrears alongside Brandt Snedeker.

The relentless pace set by Kaymer evoked the hammerings imparted by Rory McIlroy in 2011 and Tiger Woods in 2000, tournaments that were over well before the weekend. After witnessing Kaymer’s work the temptation is to reach for the coats.

Poster boy McIlroy rallied after an opening  bogey to reach red numbers for the first time, his 68 leaving him nine adrift of the leader. Take Kaymer out of the equation and Pinehurst has produced one hell of a leaderboard.

Keegan Bradley found it ‘fun’ watching Kaymer’s near faultless display from up close Keegan Bradley found it ‘fun’ watching Kaymer’s near faultless display from up close (Getty Images)
Dustin Johnson shot a 69 to move into a share of sixth place on two under par. “I would have taken that on Wednesday. And no, I wouldn't have thought it would be eight shots behind,” he said.

Keegan Bradley was one further back after a 70, and world no.1 Adam Scott crept into the picture with a 67 to take him to level par. These are ordinarily rock solid US Open returns, the kind of scores that might in other circumstances win the tournament.

Not this year, not unless Pinehurst develops a rapid cure for the Kaymer epidemic. “If he does it for two more days, then we're all playing for second spot,” conceded Scott.

While it is true that heavy rain in the early hours made awkward greens more accommodating, that alone did not account for the colossal difference in outcomes. The 65 players that followed him into the weekend are covered by a spread of five shots. Kaymer is playing a quality of golf all his own.

Only one bogey in 36 holes is as astonishing a detail as the 11 birdies carded, his nerveless display with the putter complementing the lethal accuracy of his long game. Even hydrated by nature’s bounty Pinehurst remains a beast of a challenge

Kaymer’s playing partner Bradley extended a wary hand at the end of the round not quite certain about the nature of the species against whom he had been competing. “I played well as well, but it was fun watching him hit every fairway, every green and make every putt. It was pretty awesome,” Bradley said. The third member of the group, Jason Duffner, who closed on six over, looked in need of his mother.

This was how Kaymer viewed his historic effort: “It's just very, very satisfying. 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, because it was a tough pin and all of a sudden you end up with a very good birdie chance and you would have taken four from the fairway.

“I'm just hitting the ball very solid. I think it's important to keep going and not try to relax. There's still a lot of stuff to improve on, but the way I played now is quite nice.” Full marks for understatement.

Jamie Donaldson and Hunter Mahan were penalised two shots for playing each other’s balls on the 18 hole. The sanction took Mahan, who closed on six over par, the wrong side of the cut. Donaldson, who closed on 12 over, was already unravelling. 

Luke Donald and Lee Westwood were among the high-profile casualties along with Bubba Watson. But Sheffield’s 19-year-old US Amateur champion made it into the weekend on four over par.      

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