Martin Kaymer couldn’t recall if he had ever made back-to-back eagles in a round before Thursday.
That’s something one would probably remember, so it’s likely Kaymer’s consecutive eagles on No. 7 and 8 at Quail Hollow Club was a first for him.
Kaymer, the former No. 1 player in the world, turned in a 3-under-par 69 in the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship to finish in a tie for seventh. He sandwiched a eagle on the par-5 seventh and then an eagle on the par-4 eighth between two bogeys to finish a round that began at No. 10.
“I told my caddy to keep the ball,” Kaymer said. “It’s very rare that you make two eagles in a row. Overall, 3 under is a good round. I left some shots out there, three or four putts that I expected to make – didn’t happen. It doesn’t kick me out of the tournament.”
Heading to No. 7 at even par on the day, Kaymer took an aggressive approach on his second shot that went over the water and landed 17 feet past the hole. He sank the putt for eagle.
His tee shot at the par-4 eighth found the primary rough. But his wedge shot from 67 yards found the hole for rare back-to-back eagles.
“I played with Martin Kaymer, who played solid today and didn’t get everything he could have out it until the end, made a couple of eagles coming in,” said former Clemson star Jonathan Byrd, who shot 4 under.
Kaymer has two PGA Tour wins – the 2010 PGA Championship and the 2011 World Golf Championship-HSBC. He enjoyed the world’s No. 1 ranking for eight weeks in early 2011 but underwent a major swing change after the 2011 Masters.
He expected the change to take four or five months. But three years later, Kaymer said on Thursday his swing transformation was completed about two months ago.
“After a year, I was six months over (what I expected) and I wasn’t even close,” Kaymer said. “I needed to do it. I’m only 29. I have a lot of years in front of me. But mentally it was very draining.”
Before the switch, which started when he was 26, Kaymer’s only shape shot was a fade. It was a safe and secure swing, he said, but not one that could win on a course as challenging as Quail Hollow.
“It’s a little more difficult than I thought,” said Kaymer of the course’s changes. “The pins, they put them on the greens in difficult positions, close to the slopes.
“I was not expecting the course to play that difficult. Therefore, I’m even more pleased with my round. But I like just coming here. It’s one of the best courses we play all year.”
Since beginning his swing change with coach Gunter Kessler, Kaymer hasn’t had the greatest experiences at the Wells Fargo Championship. He finished in a tie for 62nd at even par in 2011, didn’t play in 2012 and missed the cut last year.
“I’m a lot better than I was two or three years ago,” Kaymer said. “I feel more confident.”