PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. — You wouldn’t expect a player who won a major less than three years ago to need a sponsor exemption, but that is the exact position Martin Kaymer finds himself in at the Honda Classic.
Kaymer, the 2014 U.S. Open and Players Championship winner, lost the five-year PGA Tour exemption major champions receive after he failed to meet the Tour’s minimum start requirement in 2015. The 32-year-old German is making his first Tour start outside the majors and World Golf Championship events since last May.
After opening with a 5-under 65 on Thursday, Kaymer showed his trademark grit on Friday by battling tooth and nail for an even-par 70 at PGA National. He only hit four of 14 fairways and eight of 18 greens on what was the second-most difficult course outside of the majors last season.
“Yesterday I drove it well and therefore I had a lot of chances,” Kaymer said. “Today I missed too many fairways and kept my round going by making a few par saves here and there, so my short game was really sharp the last couple of days. To shoot level par is never a bad score on that golf course.”
Kaymer has already made three worldwide starts prior to the Honda Classic, including a T4 finish in Abu Dhabi. He has not won a tournament since a virtuoso performance at Pinehurst in the 2014 U.S. Open.