Kaymer takes control at treacherous Pinehurst

Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:11pm EDT
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

PINEHURST North Carolina (Reuters) - Germany's Martin Kaymer stunningly birdied four of his last nine holes in the toughest conditions of the day to seize a three-shot lead in the U.S. Open first round at Pinehurst Resort on Thursday.

Seeking a second major title after clinching his first in the 2010 PGA Championship, Kaymer produced sizzling form on a hot and sunny afternoon as he fired a five-under-par 65 on Pinehurst's fabled No. 2 Course.

Out in one-under 34, the 29-year-old German stormed home with birdies at the 10th, 14th, 16th and 17th on a layout becoming increasingly firm and fast to take control of the second of the season's four majors.

Former champion Graeme McDowell, without playing at his best, delivered a consummate display of course management to card a 68 during the morning and ended the round level with American Kevin Na and burly Zimbabwean Brendon de Jonge.

McDowell, who claimed his only major title in the 2010 U.S. Open at Pebble Beach, was delighted with his start.

"I played it very conservatively," the Northern Irishman told reporters after carefully negotiating Pinehurst's No. 2 Course where danger lurked on virtually every hole because of the challenging turtle-back greens.

"I positioned the ball great off the tee. I drove it really well all day. I generally kept the ball exactly where I wanted to going into the flags, short of a lot of the greens on the correct side of most of the flags.

"It wasn't my best ball-striking display this morning, but you don't have to strike it amazing around here, you just have to position the ball correctly at all times," said the 34-year-old from Portrush.   Continued...

Jun 12, 2014; Pinehurst, NC, USA; Martin Kaymer tees off on the 9th hole during the first round of the 2014 U.S. Open golf tournament at Pinehurst Resort Country Club - #2 Course. Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports