Sport Golf

Saturday 24 February 2018

Kaymer inspired by McIlroy heroics

Phil Casey

Rory McIlroy's US Open victory was so impressive that even world number three Martin Kaymer almost headed straight to the range to work on his game.

McIlroy bounced back from his final-round collapse at the US Masters in incredible style at Congressional, posting the lowest ever total in a US Open and leaving the rest of the field a distant eight shots adrift.

Along with millions around the world, Kaymer watched on in admiration and despite having won his own major the previous year at the US PGA Championship, the 26-year-old knew McIlroy had just raised the bar to another level.

"A lot of people thought that he maybe cannot bring it home after the Masters, but the way he played on Sunday was very impressive and nice to see that he kept being aggressive," Kaymer said before the 140th Open got under way at Royal St George's in Sandwich today.

"When I was done with my round I was watching the back nine when Rory played, and the way he played made me feel like I need to practice more.

"I need to go back to the driving range, I need to hit more balls, need to become a better player, because he played that golf course almost in a perfect way. It motivates you and inspires you."

American Jerry Kelly was scheduled to hit the opening tee-shot at 6:30am, no doubt hoping to make a better start than he managed when the Open was last held here in 2003.

In wet and windy conditions, Kelly took 11 on the par-four first, pulling his tee-shot into heavy rough, failed to get it out first time, and the hacked it across the fairway into more rough.

After four more hacks with no success, Kelly took a penalty drop, hit his ninth shot over the green, chipped the next to 15 feet and promptly holed the putt.

Denmark's Thomas Bjorn, second in 2003 after blowing a three-shot lead with four holes to play, was also among the early starters, while McIlroy was due out at 9:09am alongside 2002 champion Ernie Els and American Rickie Fowler.

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