Three years, eight months, and 26 days. That’s the amount of time that passed between Martin Kaymer‘s win at the PGA Championship in 2010, and his triumph at this year’s PLAYERS Championship.
If it had to be that long, one could argue, at least Kaymer knows how to pick his spots in big tournaments. Now, he’s looking to carry that momentum from the “fifth major” to the second, as the former world No. 1 has set a ridiculous pace at the U.S. Open.
Kaymer was all but flawless on Thursday, scorching the field on the way to posting a five-under-par round of 65, good enough to take a three-shot overnight lead. His six birdies were tied for the most of any player in the first round, compared to just one bogey. He missed just one fairway all day, and his iron play was so good that even if he had missed more, it would be hard to imagine it costing him more than a shot or two.
Here’s how the leaders stack up after 18 holes:
1. Martin Kaymer, -5
T2. Kevin Na, -2
T2. Graeme McDowell, -2
T2. Brendon de Jonge, -2
T2. Fran Quinn, -2
T6. 10 players at -1, including Brandt Snedeker, Henrik Stenson, Matt Kuchar, Dustin Johnson, and Jordan Spieth.
The question now, of course, is if this crazy start will propel Kaymer to victory, the same way his nine-under 63 did at TPC Sawgrass a month ago. Not to discredit Kaymer in the least, but there’s no way another score like that will be put up without rain allowing this course to soften dramatically. If you don’t believe me, just ask him.
“Exceptional,” Kaymer told reporters about his day. “Like at THE PLAYERS, the 9-under par is not normal. So no one should expect me to shoot another 5-under par the next three rounds. I don’t.”
Then again, he might not have to. Most players coming in thought that the winning score would almost certainly be par or over, with some estimates going as high as six or seven over. It still might, but having a cushion like this in the U.S. Open is nothing short of a dream scenario, even after just one day.