Kaymer struggles at Augusta

2011-04-08 10:39
Martin Kaymer (File)
Augusta - World No 1 Martin Kaymer of Germany and second-ranked Lee Westwood of England struggled through the opening round of the 75th Masters on Thursday, baffled at times by famed Augusta National.

While ninth-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland upheld the honor of the Top-10 and Europe's favorites by seizing the lead, the other five Europeans in the top nine of the world rankings had long days toiling in the Georgia pines.

Kaymer, who missed the cut in all three prior Masters starts, took a major step in that direction with an opening six-over par 78, 13 shots off the pace of ninth-ranked Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and Spain's Alvaro Quiros.

"I think that I don't really know how to play the golf course," Kaymer said. "I can think about another hour or hour and a half or two hours and I just don't really find a solution."

"It was very difficult. I was disappointed because there are some golf courses that suit you and some they just don't. Obviously it's frustrating if you never play well. It's just a shame."

Westwood, runner-up last year to three-time Masters champion Phil Mickelson, was also among the pre-Masters favorites but battled to finish 18 holes at level par 72, especially unhappy about a bogey at the par-3 12th.

"It's not my game, is it, at the moment," Westwood said. "If you can't hole it out from four feet, you're going to struggle, aren't you?"

Fourth-ranked Englishman Luke Donald opened on 72 while World No 5 Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, the reigning US Open champion, shot a 74 and England's Paul Casey, ranked sixth, fired a 70 thanks to birdies on the 15th, 16th and 17th holes.

Kaymer was ready to go back to the drawing board and ask countryman Bernhard Langer, a two-time Masters winner out this week with an injury, about how to master the mysteries of Augusta National.

"Maybe I've got to sit down with Bernhard Langer later and ask him, you know," Kaymer said. "He won here twice and I think I can only get good advice from him.

"There's not really a game plan. I need to try something different again. I don't know what I have to do here. Maybe one day it will work out."

Donald paid a price for tentative play in trying to solve Augusta National.

"I was a little bit apprehensive out there and it cost me a few times," he said. "Hopefully I will get off to some more good conditions tomorrow, go out there and swing a little bit freer."

McDowell, whose best prior showing in three Masters was share of 17th in 2009, was frustrated on the greens after what he considered a good day hitting the ball.

"Two-over is a little frustrating the way I hit it," McDowell said. "Frustrating because I did everything right, put the ball in positions, just couldn't quite get it going on the greens. I've been putting great in practice, so it's a little bizarre.

"Pace is my problem. The first nine holes I could barely get a putt to the hole and then I sort of overreacted and started blasting everything on the back nine.

"It's funny, this golf course, you get it below the hole into the grain and they're incredibly slow. You get above the hole down grain and they are ridiculously quick. There's such a big differential.

"Just don't tell anybody in a green jacket that I said that."

Casey found success late but lacked confidence off the tee.

"I lacked confidence today," Casey said. "I struggled, especially off the tee. I found most of the trees out there.

"You had to be patient, but you also had to do something because seven-under from Rory is a spectacular score. You can't win it on a Thursday but you can certainly shoot yourself in the foot."

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