Martin Kaymer, a 29-year-old native of Dusseldorf, Germany, posted a bogey-free 9-under 63 to tie the low 18-hole score at The Players Championship (Fred Couples/1992/R3, Greg Norman/1994/R1, Roberto Castro/2013/R1).
Kaymer’s career-low round is a 10-under 62, set earlier this season at the 2013 HSBC Champions (finished T8). His previous-best score at THE PLAYERS was an opening-round 67 in 2011.
Kaymer carded a 7-under 29 on the front nine (his final nine holes after beginning the round on No. 10) to establish a new nine-hole scoring record at THE PLAYERS Championship. His 29 on Nos. 1-9 included birdies on Nos. 1-2-4-6-7-8-9.
Previously, eight players owned 30s on the front nine (most recently Nick Watney during the first round in 2011) and 16 players on the back nine (most recently Russell Henley and Geoff Ogilvy during today’s first round)
Kaymer is making his sixth start at THE PLAYERS, with a T15 in 2012 and T19 in 2011 his best outings. He has never missed a cut at the event, with a T55 in his inaugural appearance in 2009 his worst showing.
Kaymer’s first-round statistics:
- Driving Distance: 283.5 yards
- Fairways in Regulation: 12 of 14 (85.7 percent)
- Greens in Regulation: 17 of 18 (94.4 percent)
- Putts: 27
- Putting Average (GIR): 1.529
- Making his 74th PGA TOUR start, Kaymer is in search of his second TOUR win (2010 PGA Championship).
- Kaymer is making his 10th start of the season, with seven made cuts and a season-best T8 at the HSBC Champions.
- This marks the first time Kaymer has held the first-round lead/co-lead on the PGA Tour. His previous best standing after round one was third place at the 2011 World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, which was set up by a 6-under 66 (which was his previous-best opening round in a PGA Tour event).
International players have won seven of the last 12 Players Championships. A total of 12 international players have won The Players in the 40-year history of the event, including three Europeans (Sandy Lyle/1987, Sergio Garcia/2008, Henrik Stenson/2009).
The first-round leader or co-leader has gone on to win THE PLAYERS 12 times since the tournament began in 1974, most recently Sergio Garcia in 2008. There have been four wire-to-wire winners: Al Geiberger (1975), Greg Norman (1994), Steve Elkington (1997) and Hal Sutton (2000).
Of 32 winners since the event moved to TPC Sawgrass in 1982, only 10 have carded a first-round score of 70 or higher and gone on to win, with the most recent being K.J. Choi in 2011 with a 70.
The first-round leader/co-leader has won four of 24 times this season, most recently Matt Kuchar at the RBC Heritage.
Henley’s back-nine 6-under 30, which included six birdies on Nos. 10-11-12-15-16-17, tied the back-nine scoring record for the Stadium Course at TPC Sawgrass. Henley’s 30 matched 15 other players, most recently Luke Donald in the final round in 2012 (Geoff Ogilvy also performed the feat Thursday).
Henley’s back-nine 30 included just one made putt over 15 feet (No. 13 – 16 feet, 2 inches).
The two-time winner Henley, 24, is one of three players currently under the age of 25 with multiple PGA TOUR wins, along with Harris English (2) and Patrick Reed (3). Henley won the 2013 Sony Open in Hawaii in his PGA TOUR member debut and The Honda Classic in early March in a four-way playoff.
Henley won the Web.com Tour’s event at TPC Sawgrass in 2012, contested on Dye’s Valley course.
Henley’s first-round statistics:
- Driving Distance: 277.0 yards
- Fairways in Regulation: 11 of 14 (78.5 percent)
- Greens in Regulation: 13 of 18 (72.2 percent)
- Putts: 26
- Putting Average (GIR): 1.462
- Henley was recently voted the PGA TOUR Player of the Month presented by Avis for the month of March.
- Henley is making his 17th start of the season, with his win at The Honda Classic and T7 finish at the Shell Houston Open representing his two top-10 finishes.