Featured Golf News
Kaymer Enjoys Triumphant Return to Europe
Martin Kaymer wiped away a year's worth of disappointment last Sunday. The 27-year-old sank a 6-foot par putt on the 18th hole at Medinah Country Club to beat Steve Stricker 1-up and score the winning point for the Europeans as they regained the Cup by a 14˝-to-13˝ margin.
"Of course it was a lot of pressure, but I see it more like a gift what happened," he told reporters on the eve of this week's Alfred Dunhill Championship in Scotland. "It's very, very rare that you are in a position as a golf player to make such an important putt . . . There will never, ever, be a more important putting my life. Even if I have a chance in two years' time, I've done it before already."
With his winning putt Kaymer was able to undo some of the legacy of fellow German Bernhard Langer 21 years earlier, when Langer missed a 6-footer on the final hole on the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island that would have clinched a 14-all tie and returned the Cup to Europe. That Ryder Cup became known as the "War on the Shore."
"It was such a fine line between being the hero and the biggest idiot," Kaymer said, "and fortunately it went the right way. When I was standing behind the ball and then when I bent down Bernhard's miss crossed my mind for half a second. But it didn't have any audience in a positive or negative way.
"And if you stick to the facts it was the easiest putt you can have despite all the circumstances because it was uphill and inside the right line. There is no easier putt. We have that putt millions of times and I had to try to forget about the Ryder Cup."
Kaymer, who ascended to No. 1 in the world - replacing Tiger Woods - in January 2011, has not visited the winner's circle either on the European or American tours since the WGC-HSBC Champions last November. He's hoping that changes this week in the Alfred Dunhill Championship, which takes place at three courses - St. Andrews, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie. Kaymer opened with a 2-under 70 at Carnoustie.
Here's what Kaymer had to tell reporters prior to the start of the 72-hole tournament.
MODERATOR: Thanks very much for joining us today. You must be absolutely buzzing to be back here, a place where you won after a fantastic week last week.
MARTIN KAYMER: Yes, I mean, to come here is always very special for me. So I can still remember the first time I was here when I was an amateur and then I was hoping that I could play a big tournament here and win, and it happened two years ago, and to win the British Open, that would be fantastic one day.
MODERATOR: Have you managed to get any preparation done at all?
MARTIN KAYMER: Yes, of course, I have a big responsibility for my partner. Honestly, he's always very excited. I'm very happy to play with Johann this week. We played nine holes yesterday and then this morning we played at 7:30 Carnoustie, 18 holes. But now I can feel that it's time to rest.
MODERATOR: Last time you won The Ryder Cup and here, same again this year?
MARTIN KAYMER: That would be nice. Obviously that was a huge confidence boost on Sunday, so I'm really looking forward to play this week and it's more than enjoying the week, as well, enjoying the ride, the journey, what happened last week and being here and now everybody loves me now, so it's quite a nice feeling.
Q. You mentioned earlier this year about doing some gardening with your grandmother - have you spoken to her?
MARTIN KAYMER: No, I haven't talked to her. I think she was very happy. She must have had tears, too, when she saw me celebrating on 18. No, I haven't talked to her, but I'm probably going to see her on Monday.
Q. How does it feel to be the hero of the hour?
MARTIN KAYMER: A little strange. The thing about it, it was such a fine line between being the hero or the biggest idiot. And fortunately it went the right way. I was very surprised yesterday how many people came up to me and congratulated me. Obviously I made the last putt, but it's a little bit of a, I wouldn't say uncomfortable situation, but a little strange because it was not only me. Obviously I had the pleasure to make the last putt, but in the end of the day, I got only one point, even though I played only twice, but there were other guys, they inspired the team a lot more than me than Sunday. What Poulter has done on Saturday afternoon is very difficult to put in words. I think he at least, he deserves a lot more credit than anyone else on the team I believe.
Q. Is that the most pressure you've ever felt?
MARTIN KAYMER: I suppose it was one of those things, where, yeah, of course, it was a lot of pressure, but not only the last putt; the last, I would say, five holes. Pretty much on the par5, 14, when Francesco was all square and I was all square and I was counting the points, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, we needed at least a win from me, or two all squares from Francesco and me. Then there was a lot of pressure. But it was a lot of fun to play, too. The night before when I heard that I was the 11th player the next day, I thought obviously they are very experienced players on The European Team, they played in the beginning against a few rookies of the Americans. I thought that it would happen that it would come down to match 10, 11, 12, and I was alert of the situation. Then when I played the first nine and I saw all the blue on the board, obviously I was very happy. It was a situation where I felt there's a lot going on, there could be something huge happening today and I thought it could come down to Francesco's or my match.
Q. Do you remember when Bernhard Langer missed a similar putt at Kiawah Island to lose the Ryder Cup?
MARTIN KAYMER: Yeah, but that was 21 years ago, I was six. I would say in Germany - more in let's say the countries in Europe where you play more golf than Germany, or even in America obviously, because it happened in America. Yeah, in Germany they talked a little bit about Bernhard's putt and mine two or three days ago. In general, I'm just very fortunate. I see it more like a gift what happened there on Sunday, because it's very, very rare that you are in a position as a golf player to make such an important putt. And there will be never, ever, a more important put in my life, because that is just the way we won it, there's only for the first time, you could make that putt. Even if I would have a chance in two years' time again, I've done it before already. So to do it for the first time, I was just very thankful that I got the possibility to go through those moments and to experience all of the things that I did on the Sunday. So it's very nice.
Q. Were you aware of the crowd trying to put you off?
MARTIN KAYMER: I think pretty much it started on 16. You hear the crowds, but you don't really hear anybody distracting you. If they talk while you swing the club or they scream something, or whatever, you don't really - at least I didn't hear it. It was so loud on 17 walking to the green, I mean, it was - I don't know how many times on the last five or six holes, it was a fantastic feeling. It's very difficult to describe. You're just so much in that moment. And then the things that Olazábal had told me, very straightforward, very strict, three, four sentences: That's why I want you on the team, we need your win, so please deliver. Yeah, it's funny to say, but you don't need to talk so much in those situations. You just need to tell the person who is in charge what you have to do and you just do it and fortunately it worked out.
Q. On Sunday, did you know he was there?
MARTIN KAYMER: Yeah, he came into the team room on Wednesday or Thursday, and then I had a long chat with Thomas Björn Friday, he was very, very nice the whole week, and he took care of me a little bit and he saw that I didn't feel uncomfortable. Then we talked for maybe 45 minutes or an hour. Then Darren Clarke, he came into the room, as well, and both, they said - might be a good idea if you talk to Bernhard about his experiences, because he had to deal with a lot of different characters on the team and had to feel comfortable to play his best golf. I thought it was a very good idea. Then I called or I texted Bernhard on Friday evening, if he has time for me, and then we sat down for an hour and talked about a bunch of stuff. There's not really one or two things that popped out which is important. Just the whole talk was very nice. It inspired me more. It gave me the right attitude for the Sunday.
Q. Did Langer's miss cross your mind when you were standing over the putt?
MARTIN KAYMER: When I was standing behind - when I went down, I saw a footprint and it crossed my mind maybe four and a half seconds, so it was there, but it didn't have any influence in a positive or in a negative way. I saw the footprint and I thought, Bernhard, okay, gone. So it was not really a second. Yes, I did think about it, but it's the past. It's 21 years ago. At the end of the day, if you stick to the facts of the putt, it was easiest putt you can have, even though with all of the circumstances, is it was an uphill inside line. There is no easier putt. It's true, if you bring it down to the facts and try to forget about The Ryder Cup, we have putt that putt millions of times.
Q. Is that what you told yourself?
MARTIN KAYMER: I said, there's no second doubt, inside right, step up, make it. So very clear thoughts, which was nice.
Q. Have you spoken to Bernhard since?
MARTIN KAYMER: Tried to call me twice but I didn't have a chance to call him back unfortunately. I was texting a little bit with him yesterday and I will call him maybe in an hour or so when I calm down a little bit and get away from the golf course.
Q. How did the Sunday compare to the pressure of winning the U.S. PGA?
MARTIN KAYMER: You can see my emotions on 18. It was completely different. Completely different level. The PGA, it was very important for me to go through the whole process and especially the last nine holes and then the playoff. And then The Ryder Cup, now I know what the Ryder Cup really means. I know how important it is for those players when it comments down to the Ryder Cup, Poulter and Sergio García and all of these people on the team, Olazábal. I feel like the Ryder Cup is the ultimate because of the circumstances. We were such a team on Sunday, and the text messages that everybody receive afterwards from the players that were just very thankful to be on the team and to be part of such an historical day. It's for us very, very special. And in that little circle, the players and the captains, I hope that we can keep it like this and don't talk about it that much, because it's our thing. That is very special for us.
Q. What did Olly say to you on the last hole?
MARTIN KAYMER: Today when we saw each other in Carnoustie, I said, a lot of people asked me what you told me, I couldn't remember. And he said, well, I wanted to go on, I wanted to make the putt and I forget what Steve said to him. I was just ready to go. I wanted to finish it off. I wanted to get done. Kind of like you are on a mission, you just want to finish. He said, well, you've done your part. You're on the green with the second shot, looks like you're going to make two putts. He has to make birdie. So then but yeah, I listened and I said, I want to make that putt. I want the ultimate thrill. I think that was a good attitude at that stage. You don't want to just hit it close to the hole and then knock it in. Even though it was more difficult in the end, but it was an even better feeling. I said to them today as well, imagine if you were more nervous or more excited than me, it would never work. He's a very funny guy, and to bring a little humor in those situations and coolness, it helped me a lot there.
Q. What are your thoughts on the next European captain?
MARTIN KAYMER: Tough question, because to be honest, all four of them were so good in their ways. It would be unfair to pick one, because it was just the way they worked together, Thomas Björn, he was responsible a little bit for me and maybe two or three other guys. And Paul McGinley, he took care of two or three other guys on the team. It's very tough to pick one. For me, it doesn't matter, as long as I'm on the team again, keep playing for Europe, it was a great journey that week and all four vice captains from my point of view should be the captains at one stage.
Q. Have you seen a replay of your celebrations and were you surprised how you reacted?
MARTIN KAYMER: I asked my brother when we hugged after Tiger and Francesco finished, I said, how did I look on TV? Did I look ridiculous? Because I was in a complete new zone. I have never seen myself like this. I have never reacted like this. So I didn't know how it looked. He said, no, no, you're fine. He said even if it would look ridiculous, it's a good thing, because it comes natural, it's how you felt, it's a true feeling, it doesn't matter. Yeah, I watched it a few times on TV and YouTube and stuff. Yeah, it didn't look that bad.
Q. How many times have you watched it?
MARTIN KAYMER: Maybe four or five times. It's a good thing and you should watch it more often because it makes you happy. It's a great party on the green there.
Q. Were you aware of stories going around that you didn't play at Gleneagles because you didn't actually want to be in the team?
MARTIN KAYMER: Yeah, but I don't care. Seriously, I don't care. I made explanations why I didn't play Gleneagles. I wanted to be ready for The Ryder Cup if I make it, and if I don't make it, then somebody else deserves it more and played better golf.
Q. Did you feel at any point you didn't want to play?
MARTIN KAYMER: No, it was ready just in time - it was tight but it was ready. I played very well in Holland and Italy but I didn't putt very well because I spent too much time not too much time but more time on the driving range because I wanted to fix my swing and that's what I did. And then the week before the Ryder Cup, I spent more time on my short game to get a little more sharp in the short game area and then I was ready to go for The Ryder Cup.
Q. What did Olly say to you?
MARTIN KAYMER: He just asked me two questions, if I'm motivated and if I'm ready, and I said yes, and yes, and that was enough for him. He's a very simple man, very simple and very clear. There's not a lot of talking and the things that he says, they mean something. I get along with him very well, and I think a lot of people just see him as a great golfer and as a gentleman. But for us this week, he was more like a father that week. You could come up to him with anything. Even when he ate or when he was on the phone, you know, he hung up and had time for you. He stopped eating, he would sit with you on the couch and talk to you about whatever bothered you that week. It was very special what he had done and especially the way he motivated us for Sunday.
Q. Will you take the Ryder Cup back to Germany?
MARTIN KAYMER: The Ryder Cup trophy? I don't know what you mean.
Q. Take it back to Germany -
MARTIN KAYMER: No, I don't see why. That's what I was trying to say earlier. It's the Ryder Cup that we deserved for ourselves - everybody knew that we won but I think we can all enjoy it more if we keep it to ourselves, enjoy it and don't try to show off or show other people. It's not necessary I think.
Q. It would be quite appropriate for you to share the experiences -
MARTIN KAYMER: To be honest, yes, absolutely. But I'm very thankful from where I'm coming from in Germany and I'm very happy that I got so much support in Germany. I was very disappointed when I watched the last two, three holes on the German TV channel, the way the commentators were talking about it. There was no excitement. It was like on the 18th green now, you're standing there and it's a very important putt for him - oh, yeah, it drops in, it's very nice, great celebration. They are just so flat. And for me, it is very difficult to understand. There is something that so big is happening and some don't get it, and that is very sad. If you try your very best, if you always try to do the right thing, not only for yourself but for the country, for golf in Germany, and then there's so little excitement, it's very difficult. And, yeah, just leave it like this.
Q. You must be proud to do this for Germany?
MARTIN KAYMER: Yeah, very good. In Germany, everyone is obviously very happy about it. A lot of sports stars that we have in Germany, they were very proud of what we have done and what I have done in that situation. So obviously the respect and knowledge is there, but you know, it was a very special chance that we had, and still kind of have, to make golf grow in Germany. The responsibility is always on my side, and they tell me what to do, but they don't do the same thing. They just don't do it. For me, if you commentate it like this, I'm the only German playing in the Ryder Cup, and the last one was Bernhard, it's sad. It's very sad.
Q. Your preparations before the Ryder Cup moving on now, how comfortable are you that you can just play your game now?
MARTIN KAYMER: It's a good feeling. After Italy I wanted to play more tournaments. I wanted to play because I gained a lot of confidence in those two weeks in Holland and Italy, and I just wanted to keep playing more because I know I was very close to putting myself in contention again and might have a chance to win a tournament again. You know, the Ryder Cup has not changed in attitude. It made it even stronger, because mentally, you gain a lot of confidence. Playing wise, I know that I can win the golf tournaments, but it was more about the confidence because I had not had enough success the last ten months. But Ryder Cup, that makes a huge difference. And now it doesn't really matter what situation will come up; I've done the ultimate pressure situation. So that just gives you the belief that whatever comes, I hope I can handle it.
Q. How can you help golf grow in Germany?
MARTIN KAYMER: Yes, the TV channels, they are obviously the ones we need to get more in touch with. It starts already, paid TV channel, if you commentate one of the biggest sports events like this, I find it ridiculous. And for me, it is just - I mean, when I watched it, I just couldn't believe it. I was close to calling them and say, look, what should I do, when are you getting excited you saw me being excited, which is difficult, so what's going on. But obviously it made me very happy and I was very proud that golf, yes, it does get a little bigger now, but you can make so much more out of it, and that possibility, they just don't grab it, and that's sad.
Q. What channel is it that you're referring to?
MARTIN KAYMER: There's pretty much only one, you will find out.
Q. German people are always very controlled…
MARTIN KAYMER: Easy. Easy.
Q. Maybe Germans as a nation don't show as much excitement as other countries?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, first of all, we are very controlled people, okay. We are a little more quiet and a little more in the background, not so open. But I think the main focus is the knowledge about golf in Germany is not as big as in other countries. I would have loved to be here in one of those putts here in St. Andrews, somewhere in the background just watch how excited they were. Yes, there were a lot of fans on my Facebook page and home page saying how they were so excited, they couldn't sleep a couple hours after the last putt and had tears in their eyes. It's fantastic to hear that. The only thing that I want to make clear is that Germany has a chance, and I think I have done my part, so I would love if they could use the possibility to make the game a little bit bigger in my country.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.