Featured Golf News
Kaymer Ready to Defend at Alfred Dunhill
Martin Kaymer is hoping his return to St. Andrews will bring back fond memories of a winner's circle in a golf tournament. The 26-year-old German, whose stellar 2010 - which included four victories, including the PGA Championship - led him to become the No. 1-ranked player in golf, hasn't won on any tour since the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship earlier this year in January.
But Kaymer is back on familiar turf in Scotland this week for the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, a European Tour event that is played on three courses - the Old Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.
The field is made up of some of the biggest names in golf, including American Dustin Johnson, U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy, Masters' champion Charl Schwartzel of South Africa, British Open winner Darren Clarke, and major winners Graeme McDowell, Ernie Els, Padraig Harrington and Louis Oosthuizen.
The field also includes many celebrities from sports and the entertainment industry. Among the stars teeing off alongside the pros are actors Michael Douglas and Andy Garcia, Netherlands soccer great Johan Cruyff and former Australia cricketer Shane Warne.
Also entered is current world No. 1 Luke Donald, who has a chance of becoming the first player ever to top the money lists of both the PGA and European tours. Donald has earned $5,837,243 on the PGA Tour, while No. 2 Webb Simpson has accrued $5,768,243, with several events still to go this year.
On the European Tour, Donald has earned 3,778,199 euros, while second-place McIlroy has 2,151,474. So Donald is in good position to secure the top spot in the Race to Dubai this week in the Alfred Dunhill, which offers $800,000 to the winner.
"It would mean a lot to lead both money lists," Donald said Wednesday. "I think more the fact that no one has ever done it, being a member of both tours. You always try to accomplish things that nobody has ever done. I think it will be pretty special."
Kaymer is one of the players trying to prevent Donald from reaching historic status. Last year he posted rounds of 68, 69, 66 and 71 to beat Danny Willett in the Alfred Dunhill by three strokes.
On Wednesday, Kaymer met with reporters and talked about his chances of taking two straight titles in the event, where he will be playing with his father as a partner and have his brother as his caddie. Here's what Kaymer told reporters during a Q&A from St. Andrews.
MODERATOR: Martin, welcome back. Welcome to the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. I would imagine it's always special to defend a title but must be pretty special to defend it here, especially with an airplane flying over us so no one can hear us. That's better - thoughts on defending the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship please?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, I won a few tournaments last year; to win the PGA was very special for a lot of reasons but to win here, especially the whole week, obviously I had the privilege that I can take a friend or a family member to play with. Last year I played with a good friend of mine, and to have someone like this in your group, always around you while you play on three wonderful golf courses, it is probably the best week of the year on The European Tour, and it was my -- I think it was my last win last year, so I can finish off the season winning in St. Andrew's was probably -- yeah, it was kind of like a fairy tale. So it was beautiful. And then we had a drink afterwards in the Old Course Hotel. Just the whole week was a beautiful week. And to come back here, I'm very excited to play. Very rarely do you go to a golf tournament and I'm rarely that excited about playing a golf course. Most of the golf courses, you know you've been there and you know what's going on. But here, I can play 36 holes every day. You just really want to play.
MODERATOR: How is the game at the moment?
MARTIN KAYMER: I was in America the last two weeks. I was practicing quite a bit in Phoenix. But the good thing about those golf courses here, you can make some mistakes and it doesn't make a big difference. You can miss some tee shots left and right and they are still okay. I mean, I feel ready for the week. It will be definitely a nice week. I don't know what's going to happen. I play with my father this year, and my brother will caddie for us, so definitely some entertainment. Yeah, it will be nice.
Q. When did you first play St. Andrews and what did you think of it?
MARTIN KAYMER: When I was an amateur I came here, twice for the British Amateur and for the British Boys, and I didn't really like links golf at all. I found it quite unfair once in awhile. But then when I played more often in Scotland or in Great Britain, I became a lover of those golf courses. You know, this is home for me. When I was standing today on the first tee, it felt so peaceful. A lot of the players, they the Masters is the place that is paradise, but for me St. Andrews is paradise. It is the home of golf and it is where I feel the most comfortable.
Q. What is the toughest of the courses this week -
MARTIN KAYMER: I think Carnoustie is definitely the toughest of those three golf courses. You can score well at Kingsbarns and St. Andrews if the weather is fairly okay. Carnoustie, if you shoot level par, that's always a good score there, so it's definitely the toughest of the three.
Q. Where did you stay when you first came here?
MARTIN KAYMER: We stayed at a hostel in St. Andrew's with the national team. Obviously the British Boys is a match-play format. You play two rounds of stroke play and then you play match play. For me, it was the first time I came to Great Britain and played tournaments here. I didn't know what to expect. Obviously you see it a lot of times on TV but it's so so different. I was telling my father this morning when we played a few holes, obviously he has been here before, but it's tough to get used to because you play completely different golf. You need to bounce the ball in front of the green. You can miss it sometimes a hundred yards to the left side and you're still okay.
Obviously my father and my brother, they were talking about tee shots, and they were just focusing on the right side of the fairways, for example, because there was a bunker left; but sometimes it's better to hit it even further left in that bunker. It's completely different thinking, and I needed to get used to it. It was a little bit of work when I came here the first time. But now it's so much fun and now I know the golf course very well.
Q. Were you nervous when you stood on the first tee?
MARTIN KAYMER: Very nervous. Sure, I can still remember -- I have a picture of that I think in my -- what do you call it, my kid's room, you know, your first room that you had in your parents house. I still had a picture in my room there. Of course, I was very nervous. Fortunately, it's not the toughest tee shot.
Q. Davis Love was saying yesterday that the Americans will probably have a different looking Ryder Cup team next year -
MARTIN KAYMER: A different team? I think in general, 2011 has been a strange season. You know, there have been a lot of players at one tournament that you didn't really hear or knew before. And especially some American guys, which is nice to see. And it was always -- I think the last couple of years, obviously you guys ask why the Europeans or strong or why are the Americans not coming through anymore. But now, I think this year has changed a little bit. We have Bill Haas and Keegan Bradley; so I think it will be a different team that America will have in The Ryder Cup in Chicago next year, and our team, I think it won't look very different than 2010. But we could have almost two teams but I think in America, there is a big change coming through.
Q. Do you think it will be tough to keep the Ryder Cup given they have home advantage?
MARTIN KAYMER: I think if you have a home advantage, of course, you know, America will have the home advantage next year. But in the end of the day, it comes down to making the good shots. All of the European players, most of them play in America anyways. So it is not that big much an advantage I think it. If you play in Europe, not so many Americans play on The European Tour. I think especially with our captain, we have a very good chance to keep the trophy.
Q. With Tiger no longer dominating, do you think that the game is more exciting?
MARTIN KAYMER: I think it's quite -- now, if you have a look at the Top-50, Top 60 players in the world now, everyone has a chance to win a golf tournament these days, and it doesn't matter if Tiger or Mickelson or Stricker or whoever -- Furyk is up there, are in the field. Everyone has a chance. Keegan Bradley, I think that was -- no one really was expecting him to win the PGA. And all of a sudden, he won the PGA and then he played very well in the FedEx Cup. So I think it's very nice to see that other players, especially from America now, are coming through and winning golf tournaments. You know, because golf is not owned by one player. I think golf is a game that you play and that you should enjoy, and it's nice and other players are coming through now, and other people, they have a little bit more attention now and recognition for what they have done the last few years besides only one or two players.
Q. Do you think we'll see more Americans on the European Tour?
MARTIN KAYMER: I think once we will have a world tour, which will happen I think one day, that maybe the Americans, they prepare themselves already for that but it's nice for us for The European Tour. It shows how strong the Tour is, what George O'Grady has done the last few years has been very good for us. And you can see that more and more Americans come over in the Middle East tournaments at the beginning of the season. Mickelson, he played in Abu Dhabi this year; Stricker and Dustin Johnson, came to Qatar. Bubba, he was in France. So we'll see how many guys will come over next year.
Q. What is your schedule after this and will you take up membership in America next year?
MARTIN KAYMER: I will play obviously this week, Portugal, Valderrama, HSBC, the World Cup, South Africa, Dubai, holiday. I saw the schedule on EuropeanTour.com that is for July I think before the U.S. Open. I need to wait for the schedule for the PGA Tour but I would really like to play on the PGA Tour, but I will always stay a member on The European Tour for sure. But I can fit in 15 tournaments on the PGA Tour for next year, I might do that. But I need to see both schedules, and then I will put them both together. I don't want to travel that much next year, because I played a lot, so we will see. I just need to wait until the PGA Tour schedule comes out.
Q. The swing changes you made for the Masters . . .
MARTIN KAYMER: My goal was to change a few things in my swing, which doesn't -- actually I talked to it Mark Roe on the range this morning and Johann Rupert, and Johann said I should never, ever change my swing. Ernie said that to him a few years ago already. I'm not really changing my swing for the Masters. I just made some improvements. I think even though I came No. 1 in the world, and I won the PGA last year. But I think as a player I should never stop, I should never be satisfied, not when I'm 25 or 26 years old. You want to improve and become a better player and then try to make some changes, which is pretty normal that you don't win every week. But now, I think I'm in a very good way and this year was more like a training or a practice year for me, with making a lot of experience on the golf course because I played a lot of tournaments this year. I saw those changes more long term because I am still early in my career, and that's why I changed a couple of things.
Q. (Regarding playing both tours).
MARTIN KAYMER: I think it is possible if you play, let's say, in some blocks. If you play three or four tournaments, say, beginning of the season on The European Tour with the Middle East tournaments and then you go to America -- I will go to America anyway for the World Golf Championships. We have the Match Play and Doral, and then I will stay in America from February until May. So if there are some tournaments that I would like to play, and if I still have my break, then I don't see is a reason why I cannot fulfill those 15 tournaments. But at the end of the day, I cannot count on making the finals in the FedEx Cup. You cannot count on it. So that's why you need to have 13 or 14 tournaments set already without the FedEx Cup, and if you get into the finals, and add another four, that's nice. But if you don't, the thing that I would like to avoid is to play in the Fall Series in America, because I would love to play here.
The next tournaments I will play here now from next week onwards until Dubai, they are fantastic tournaments and they are very nice golf courses that I like to play and where I love to be. So from this point of the year, I do not really want to stay in America in the fall.
MODERATOR: Martin, thanks for joining us, good luck with your defense this week.
The transcript for the above interview is courtesy of ASAP Sports.