Making it look easy
By Teddy Greenstein
By Teddy Greenstein
PINEHURST, N.C. (MCT) — Keegan Bradley and Jason Dufner played a U.S. Open course Friday.
On their next-to-last hole, Dufner's drive found a fairway bunker. Bradley's approach from the sandy waste area sputtered halfway to the green.
Meanwhile, you half-expected to see their playing partner, Martin Kaymer, lounging on a beach chair, sipping a glass of sweet tea.
For him, playing golf meant just that — playing. Not grinding.
He parred that eighth hole, a par-4 of 496 yards, with his typical precision: bombing one into the fairway, reaching the green in regulation, avoiding a three-putt.
Bradley called Kaymer's 5-under 65 "awesome ... it was fun watching him hit every fairway, every green and make every putt."
Kaymer's flawless Friday featured five birdies and no bogeys. As he stretched his lead to six, seven and then eight shots, the Pinehurst spectators seemed appreciative but hardly enthusiastic.
They want weekend drama. Kaymer is playing so impeccably, he could wreck Father's Day for millions.
No wonder he practically apologized afterward.
"It gets boring the words that I use, but I mean, there's not much to say," said Kaymer, who completed 36 holes in 10-under 130, six clear of second-place Brendon Todd. "It's just good right now the way I play golf."
Kaymer's actually a delightful and candid guy who knows his place in the world. He called golf a "side sport" to the main event for his fellow Germans — the World Cup. Even if he wins, he said Germany would celebrate only until its first match Monday against Portugal.
Asked if he would rather hit out of ankle-high rough or Pinehurst No. 2's new native areas, he replied, "Neither one."
He responded to a query about Bradley's annoying preshot routine — club-twirling, incessant glances, a one-foot-forward approach to the ball — by saying: "Not a nice question; I can only lose here. ... I mean, it's not easy to play with Keegan, I must admit that."
Even so, he hit 15 greens in regulation Friday, made two long birdie putts, drove the third green (307 yards from tee to flag) and got up and down on No. 7 with a bunker blast to 1 foot.
Kaymer is a lousy prognosticator, saying Wednesday he would be happy with a final score of 8 over par. Then after shooting a 65 on Thursday, he said not to expect another score that low.
"The rain," he said of overnight showers that dropped nearly an inch of moisture on the greens. "That made the golf course playable. I said to my caddie, 'There were a couple of shots today that I was surprised how good they were.' I was not expecting to hit it that close."
Kaymer winced after his tee shot on the 191-yard 17th, signifying he did not like the shot. But it was perfect, affording a birdie opportunity to a tucked pin.
"He's as dialed in as I've seen," Bradley said. "He's a fun guy to play with — really nice, very steady."
Bradley has all those odd mannerisms. Dufner has an exaggerated finish.
Kaymer is efficient. At 29, he is in the prime of his career, has already won a major (the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits) and triumphed at The Players Championship last month.
He has the experience. He has the game. Now all he has to do is silence the voices — the amateur shrinks poking and prodding.
Asked if he felt self-conscious with such a big lead, Kaymer replied: "That's a perfect example of what I said (Thursday) — people putting thoughts in your head. I'm healthy and feeling good about my game. It's all positive."