Sports Columns

June 14, 2014

Loran Smith: Todd's hopes depend on Kaymer coming back to Earth

PINEHURST, N.C. — No knowledgeable and seasoned Pinehurst aficionado would believe what is happening at this year’s U.S. Open. Donald Ross didn’t build his famed No. 2 course to be abused the way Germany’s Martin Kaymer is treating the layout after back-to-back rounds of 5-under-par 65.

Everyone else, you would think, is now playing for second place. Something is not right. Kaymer, the 2010 PGA Championship winner, must be drinking a Kool-Aid the rest of the contestants don’t know about and don’t have access to.

Not even Johnny Miller’s final round of 63 to win the 1973 U. S. Open at Oakmont has embarrassed a course like Kaymer is embarrassing Pinehurst No. 2. He is laying insult to the venerable layout. The natives are in shock.

Meanwhile, among those hoping Kaymer will come back to the field is former University of Georgia golfer Brendon Todd.

In other years of Open competition, Todd might well have been in the lead. His 67 on Friday afternoon has him at 4 under for the tournament, but that’s six shots behind the sizzling Kymer, who played in the morning.  

Todd’s playing partners and fellow former Bulldogs, Russell Henley (144 for the tournament) and Chris Kirk (139) made the cut Friday, along with Georgia alumni Erik Compton (140) and Harris English (144). Three others who have worn red and black were not as fortunate — Hudson Swafford (146), Bubba Watson (146) and Kevin Kisner (152) won’t spend the weekend at Pinehurst.

When Friday’s round was over, Todd walked into a virtually deserted interview room because the story of the day had been written with Kaymer’s second 65 and a 36-hole record for the U.S. Open. However, Todd came into this tournament having seen the consistency of his game reach a level that has him confident for the weekend.

A couple more rounds like he had on Friday and there could be a crowned interview room — depending on what Kaymer does on the final 36 holes.

Todd will be paired with Kaymer. It’s not the first time he has had the experience playing in the last group, although it was only during the final round at the Byron Nelson in Dallas, which he won last month.

In his interview, Tod talked about his low-key style, which should favor him in major championship competition. He shows little emotion, noting that his caddie “is very excitable, but I am not.”

He is not into fist-bumping and a show of emotion. He’s simply a laidback, easygoing golfer who is ambitious and ready to prove that he can compete and win on the PGA Tour.

His round was very efficient. He started the day at 1 under at Pinehurst, where he has played often without making a single bogey. He did have to get up and down for par on two holes on the back, but kept his streak intact nonetheless.

He noted that he is “really comfortable on Bermuda grass. I really like Bermuda fairways and the greens are rolling really well. I feel very good on this course.”

Todd has been encouraged by his consistency in recent weeks.

“I think the key has been eliminating the one bad shot that might cause a double bogey or might prevent you from maintaining momentum,” he said. “My short game has been just a little bit cleaner here the last month, helping me maintain momentum for every round and eliminate some of those wasted bogeys.”

Brendon has played himself in position to win the U. S. Open, but only if Martin Kaymer commences to backsliding on the weekend.

Stranger things have happened.

Loran Smith is a contributing columnist for The Daily Citizen. You can write to him at loransmith@sports.uga.edu.

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