Homefield advantage wasn’t much to speak of at the world’s biggest sporting events on Thursday: The Miami Heat were blown out at home by the San Antonio Spurs; Brazil limped to an ugly win over Croatia in the World Cup, and every American in the field was looking up at a red-hot German after 18 holes of the US Open.
Martin Kaymer, who won The PLAYERS Championship one month ago, shot a 5-under65 to lead the US Open by three strokes at Pinehurst No. 2 in North Carolina.
Kaymer birdied the first hole of the round, was 1-under at the turn, then knocked in four birdies between No. 10 and 17 to take a three-stroke lead over the quartet of Kevin Na, Graeme McDowell, Brendon de Jonge and Fran Quinn.
Quinn is the unheralded name among the bunch, despite being 49 years old. His best previous finish at the US Open was 43rd in 1994. He had a chance to be in second all by himself, but bogeyed No. 18.
Nine players are tied for sixth at 1-under par, including a host of the usual suspects – Brandt Snedeker, Henrik Stenson, Matt Kuchar, Hideki Matsuyama and Jordan Spieth.
Stenson, who won the Race to Dubai and the FedExCup last season, finished strong after being 1-over through the first six holes.
Spieth, the most bet-upon golfer in the field, made three birdies between No. 10 and 16 to stay in the mix.
British Open champion Phil Mickelson ,the six-time US Open runner-up, is one of 20 players tied for 16th at even par. FedEx standings leader Jimmy Walker is also part of that group.
Rory McIlroy, the odds-on favorite to win the tournament, is part of a group of 14 tied for 36th after shooting 1-over par. Also in that mix is US Open amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick of England, who overcame a string of three bogeys in four holes on the front nine to reach 1-over.
Defending champion Justin Rose is seven strokes off the lead after hitting a 2-over 70. Rose looked unstoppable early on, with three birdies in his first five holes, but then hit four bogeys between 13 and 18 to fall back into the pack.