AUGUSTA, Ga. – The world's top-ranked player is starting to realize Augusta National doesn't suit his game.
Martin Kaymer had another miserable day at the Masters on Thursday, struggling to a 6-over 78 that sets him up for an early trip home.
Kaymer has missed the cut in all three of his previous Masters, and this was his worst score yet. He'll have to shoot in the 60s Friday — something he's never done at Augusta — to have any chance of making it to the weekend.
"It was very difficult," the German golfer said. "There's some golf courses that suit you and some, they just don't."
Kaymer has never been particularly adept at drawing the ball, producing shots that bend gently from right to left and make it easier to play numerous holes at Augusta. He even joked before the tournament that he'd like to play the course left-handed, like defending champion Phil Mickelson, because it's easier to fade the ball.
During the practice rounds, Kaymer worked on his draw and seemed confident in the results.
It didn't work when he started keeping score.
"My putting was OK. I think my short game was definitely better than the last three years," Kaymer said. "But I just didn't hit the ball as good as the last two or three years."
He even changed his routine before the Masters, hoping that might help. Instead of playing the week before at the PGA Tour event in Houston, he worked on his game at a Tom Fazio-designed course right up the road from Augusta National.
The results were even worse.
Kaymer was two strokes higher that any of his previous six rounds at the Masters.
"It's just a shame," he said. "It's obviously a huge tournament here, and if it doesn't really suit your eye and you know that quite well, it's a little frustrating."
Kaymer's round really fell apart at No. 10. He hooked his tee shot and the ball took a wicked bounce to the left, winding up in the trees. He was able to punch it out, but couldn't reach the green with his third shot. He wound up with a double-bogey 6.
Asked about his plans for Friday, Kaymer sounded as if he was ready to start packing his bags.
"There's not really a game plan," he said. "I don't really know how to play the golf course. I don't know. I can think about it another hour or hour-and-a-half or two hours, and I just don't really find a solution."
Last August, Kaymer won the PGA Championship in a playoff for his first major title. Then, after an eight-shot romp at Abu Dhabi, he made the final of the Match Play in February to vault past Lee Westwood for the top spot in the world rankings.
At Augusta, Kaymer still looks like a duffer.
"I need to try something different again," he said. "I don't know what I have to do here. Maybe one day it will work out."