A year ago, Martin Kaymer claimed the second major of his career by taming the U.S. Open field by a whopping eight strokes. Yet the 30-year-old German has taken a back seat to a younger batch of stars at this year’s tournament starting Thursday morning at Chambers Bay in University Place, Washington.
The likes of record-setting Masters champion and 21-year-old Jordan Spieth and previous U.S. Open champ Rory McIlroy have gotten all the ink, but it doesn’t seem to bother Kaymer.
"A lot of times I'm under the radar, I feel like, which is fine," Kaymer said to the New York Times. "Obviously the other guys, they should get a lot of credit for what they've done."
Splitting time between the PGA and the European tours, Kaymer hasn’t won a tournament yet this year, with his best performance a third-place finish in Abu Dhabi back in January. He also missed the cut at the Masters, and at the Players Championship hit par to come in 56th.
Despite is up and down play this season, Kaymer’s chances are as good as any other player when it comes to taking down the longest course in the tournament’s history. Nestled inside the Puget Sound, Chambers Bay in total measures more than 7,900 yards and the lack of trees made up for with tall grass and gusts of wind that will rival the British Open.
"For me, I enjoy playing difficult golf courses wherever they are, because it's not about making too many birdies, not about a putting competition," Kaymer said. "It's just a challenge. It's the biggest challenge that we have after the Masters, I think."
It’s certainly a challenge to repeat at any major, especially the U.S. No champion has won back-to-back titles since American Curtis Strange in 1988 and 1989.
Start Time: Players began the first round at 10 a.m. ET, but television coverage starts at 12 p.m.
TV Channel: Fox Sports 1
Live Online: Fox Sports Go
Key Tee Times
Bubba Watson, Phil Mickelson, Angel Cabrera 10:33 p.m. ET
Dustin Johnson, Adam Scott, Sergio Garcia 11:17 p.m.
Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer 11:28 p.m.
Ernie Els 4:33 p.m.
Jason Day, Justin Rose, Jordan Spieth 5:17 p.m.
Rickie Fowler, Tiger Woods 5:28 p.m.
The full list of groupings and times are on the tournament’s official site here