By Tony Jimenez
VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) – Adopting the spiderman-style crouch to read the greens made famous by Colombian Camilo Villegas on the U.S. Tour, Germany’s Max Kieffer powered his way into contention at the BMW PGA Championship on Friday.
When he has doubts about the way his putts are shaping, Kieffer leans right down on the turf and stretches out his legs behind him to get a better view of the ball and its ideal path to the hole.
“Sometimes when I get a fairly flat putt and I’m not sure how it is breaking, I tend to lie down on the green and push myself up,” the 26-year-old told Reuters in an interview after posting a four-under-par 68 in the second round at Wentworth.
“It helps me to see the shape a bit better from down there.”
The holes must have appeared wide as buckets as Kieffer made a remarkable run on to the leaderboard on the back nine.
Still stinging from a poor start that saw him drop strokes at the first and second, the German picked up birdies at the sixth and eighth.
Not content with getting back to level-par for his round on another sun-kissed day on the outskirts of London, Kieffer went on a dazzling sequence of scoring that yielded one eagle and three birdies from the 11th to 14th holes.
He sank a six-foot putt at the 11th and then chipped in for a three at the par-five 12th. A 30-yard effort at the 13th disappeared into the cup before the crowd saluted a pinpoint approach to 10 feet at the next hole to produce one more birdie.
“It was a lovely day out there, nice and calm,” Kieffer said after signing for a six-under total of 138, one behind clubhouse leader Thomas Pieters of Belgium (69).
“I was pretty angry after my start but somehow I started hitting some good shots and it was a bonus when the putts started to go in.
“When I had the chances I took advantage of them. It was a bit of a bonus to chip in for an eagle, but it was just a matter of staying patient and waiting for the ball to go in for birdies.”
Kieffer is in his fifth season on the European Tour and has yet to claim a victory, his best finish being second place at the 2013 Spanish Open.
The Duesseldorf professional believes he is improving year by year and is targeting a spot in the top 30 on the money-list at the end of this season.
“I feel like I’m a much better golfer now than I was when I joined the tour five years ago,” said world number 320 Kieffer.
“I made a few swing changes this winter and I feel like I’m hitting the ball very good. It would just be nice to get better results.”
Kieffer said he draws huge inspiration from the exploits of fellow countrymen Bernhard Langer and Martin Kaymer, a fellow Duesseldorfer.
“Bernhard was a big role model when I was growing up as a kid, and I knew Martin when I was an amateur,” he explained.
“When I was playing junior golf Martin had just turned pro. It was quite nice to see that someone who lives quite close to you and has a similar background to you can make it to number one in the world.
“It makes you think, ‘I can do it as well’,” said Kieffer.
(Editing by Hugh Lawson)