Four days after he holed an eight foot putt to ensure Team Europe retained The Ryder Cup at Medinah, Germany’s Martin Kaymer began the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship with a solid two under par 70 on the notoriously difficult Carnoustie links.
Kaymer is one of four Ryder Cup players competing this week in Scotland after the dramatic and enthralling conclusion to the 39th Ryder Cup in Chicago last weekend, taking part in the unique US$5million event along with Peter Hanson, Paul Lawrie and American Dustin Johnson.
Played over the three world-class links layouts of the Old Course at St Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie – the latter widely regarded as the most challenging test – it did not prove an easy introduction back to European Tour golf for Kaymer and co. as they took to the Angus links for the first round.
“Unfortunately I made bogey on the last hole, the only bogey for today,” said the 27 year old Düsseldorf man. “It would have been a great round, 69. I played very solid and the putter was not really hot.
“But in general, I played solid on the toughest course. We have another two rounds to go at Kingsbarns and St Andrews and I think they should be more scoreable.”
Following the celebrations in Chicago on Sunday night and a day of travelling, Kaymer said the reaction of people in Scotland and a return to the Home of Golf was just the tonic to combat the exhaustion following his heroics in the American Midwest.
Kaymer defeated Steve Stricker in the Sunday singles to claim the point that ensured José María Olazábal’s side would return to Europe with Samuel Ryder Trophy in tow.
“There have been plenty of congratulations,” he continued. “It's a very nice feeling to come to St Andrews and to come here to Carnoustie, and a lot of people were rooting for us on Sunday obviously and they were watching. It's very nice to hear.
“If you put everything in consideration: we won last week The Ryder Cup, this week I get to play with my manager and friend, Johann (Elliot), my brother is caddying for him, we’re playing some of the best golf courses in the world, it’s nice weather; so it's tough to beat.”
Lawrie, meanwhile, struggled a touch more on his return from America, where he also claimed an invaluable point last Sunday when he defeated Brandt Snedeker in most emphatic fashion, 5&3.
The Scotsman was playing alongside 17 year old son Craig, a scratch golfer himself, on the Championship Course at Carnoustie.
Lawrie said: “I’m quite tired obviously and played poorly. The first 12 holes were the worst ball striking of the year unfortunately. But I obviously have a bit of jet lag, didn't sleep much last night, and then when you swing it a bit indifferent, it's going to happen.
“Craig was one under par, he played nicely but putted terribly. He really putted awfully today which was disappointing because he hit the ball quite well. Wonder where he gets that from!
“It's the toughest of the three courses so we need to go low tomorrow.”
Sweden’s Hanson fared better, shooting a level par 72 on day one of the championship, and he said he was enjoying himself in the more relaxed environment this week.
“It's good. It's great fun, playing here with one of my good friends,” he said. “He asked me to play and I said I'd love to come over and we have some great evenings and just try to keep going like we did on Sunday.
“So we’re having some great dinners and having a bit of wine in the evenings, which I never otherwise have.”
America’s Johnson, who won all three of his matches at Medinah, also finished level par for the day despite a run of bogey-bogey-double bogey from the 15th.