Kaymer struggles on home turf
Reigning US Open champion Martin Kaymer struggled on the greens and also with crowd expectation in his return to competition in the first round of the BMW International in Colgne on Thursday.
Kaymer managed five birdies but also two bogeys and a seventh hole double bogey in a round of a one under par 71 that included 31 putts.
He trailed by five shots from the lead in ideal scoring conditions on the Jack Nicklaus designed Gut Larcenhof course.
Four players - Denmark`s Anders Hansen, Frenchman Gary Stal and the England pair of Andy Sullivan and Graeme Storm - share the clubhouse lead with six under par 66s
In contrast to Kaymer, Hansen headed the leading four with just 26 putts in his bogey-free round of six birdies as the 43-year old Dane looks to end a five-year winless drought to capture a fourth European Tour success.
Hansen missed the early part of the year due to a wrist injury and this week is only his ninth event.
With a fifth in the Volvo China Open and runner-up a week later in Singapore he`s currently 59th on the Race to Dubai money list.
Huge crowds turned out to support the nearby Dusseldorf-born Kaymer not only in his first appearance in Germany in a year but his first tournament since his stunning eight-shot success at Pinehurst.
Also there`s no mistaking the star of this week`s European Tour event with organisers erecting a huge billboard of Kaymer holding the gleaming US Open trophy at the main entrance to the club.
Kaymer though gave his followers little to cheer about.
"It was a tough day for me on the greens," he said.
"It was the best conditions we could get here, but I didn`t make too many putts, especially over my last five holes, so it was the worst I can do and unfortunately I just couldn`t make the putts coming in.
"But then the crowd support was fantastic and I was a little surprised how many people were here at 7.30 in the morning when we teed off, so tomorrow afternoon when I am out, it`s going to be full.
"And coming back home the expectations from a lot of people, there are so many people that come out and expect you to play well and they expect you to play at least as good as two weeks ago.
"That`s the way Germans are. But you have to lower your expectations and that makes it quite difficult.
Finland`s Mikko Ilonen, who captured last week`s Irish Open and who stated he drew inspiration from Kaymer`s US Open triumph, is already well placed in shooting a four under par 68.
"It`s been great to catch-up with Martin as he had been texting me all last week, and also it`s the first time I`ve seen him since his US Open victory so we`ve been able to have a good conversation," said Ilonen.