Former World No.1 Martin Kaymer’s game has slipped in recent years, resulting in the Ryder Cup hero merely spectating as Europe dominated in Paris. Here, the two-time major winner discusses his plans to return to the game’s pinnacle, which will see him return to Australia this summer.
Weddings, parties, anything – plus America’s Thanksgiving celebrations – have run interference over bids to attract many of the game’s international and our own home grown stars Down Under for Australia’s ‘Summer of Golf’.
None of us can begrudge dual-Australian Open champion and regular visitor Jordan Spieth getting married, of course, and inviting many of his closest buddies along for the celebrations. It’s just a shame for us however that many of them also happen to be top-20 ranked golfers.
The same applies to Jason Day wanting to stay home for the birth of his third child.
"As strange as it sounds, I am a better player right now than I was back in 2011 when I was No.1 in the world." – Martin Kaymer
Not that he needs our blessing, but Adam Scott has absolutely earned the right after many years supporting his home tour to take the spikes off and spend time being ‘Dad’ to his young crew.
It hurts, but we get it.
This is a tough time of year but we still have plenty to capture our interest, headed by the opportunity Marc Leishman and Cameron Smith have ahead of them to write their names into history by taking out Australia’s sixth World Cup of Golf title at Metropolitan in late November.
One of their opponents at ‘Metro’ will be a guy well versed with said history books, if not Australian shores.
He might have slipped a little off the radar over the past few seasons as he works on his game but Martin Kaymer’s return to Australia after an eleven-year absence – “I played in Australia in one of my first events (Australian Masters 2007) in my first year on Tour and missed the cut by miles!” – will make for intriguing viewing.
Name me someone (not named Tiger or Rory) who wins U.S. Open titles by dominant margins of eight strokes, as this man did at Pinehurst in 2014? Who else, like Tiger and Rory, has been ranked No.1 in the world at a young age, is a multiple major champion, a Players and WGC winner; and a Ryder Cup hero in arguably THE most dramatic of Cup matches (Medinah 2012) in history?
A bona-fide star in his own right, the German like many before him will be hoping to use
an appearance or two over the Australian summer as a springboard back to where he clearly belongs.
GA: You’ve been working on elements of your game over the past few years and I read that you replied to a question at a tournament this year: “The question is when the work of the last few years is going to pay off. That it will, sooner or later, I have no doubt.”
Would it be fair to say that the basis of the work you’ve been doing has been to add more ‘versatility’, being able to move the ball right to left more comfortably, or is it broader than that?
MK: Moving the ball from right to left is only one more option that I have added to my range of golf shots. As strange as it sounds, I am a better player right now than I was back in 2011 when I was No.1 in the world.
RIGHT: Kaymer believes his game is better now than it was when he was World No.1. PHOTO: Getty Images.
My problem at the moment is that golf is a sport that is based on results and I have struggled a little bit to put every part of my game together for four consecutive rounds. I just have to continue doing what I am doing with my coach and things will fall into place again.
As I said before, I don´t have any doubt that the hard work will pay off. Right now, it is just about being patient.
GA: Results this year have been either rocks or diamonds on paper but you’re obviously seeing enough in what you’re doing – periods where you’re able to execute the shots you envision on demand, for example – to be excited about what’s ahead?
MK: Absolutely. This year has been a challenging one in terms of patience and even more health. I had some injuries during this season that affected my schedule and also my golf game, but I had some time off recently that I used well to get ready for the last tournaments of the year.
I am looking forward to see what I can do in these events.
GA: As a two-time major champion, former World No.1 and having enjoyed enormous success in the Ryder Cup, has there been a side of you that has in some way relished the opportunity to be a little more out of the limelight as you work through changes in your game?
MK: I don’t really like the wording “changes in your game”. A lot of people have asked me why I decided to change my swing when I was No.1 in the world, but to be honest, I have not changed my swing at all.
When I was No.1 in the world, I was 25 years old and not a complete golfer. I just kept working on becoming a better golfer.
“I don´t have any doubt that the hard work will pay off. Right now, it is just about being patient.” – Martin Kaymer
Of course, you can argue ‘Why do you keep working on something that brought you to No.1 in the world?’ but being 25 years old, you don’t stop in trying to become better.
GA: Can I ask how watching on for the 2018 Ryder Cup made you feel? Is it a similar catalyst to you – to get back in for 2020 – as it clearly has been for someone like Ian Poulter this year, for instance?
MK: I definitely want to be on the team for 2020, especially because the Ryder Cup will be played in Whistling Straits, the golf course where I won my first major championship in 2010.
Of course, it wasn’t the easiest week for me but given that it has been a challenging season for me, there were 12 men that qualified for the team and did a great job in Paris.
That is also what the Ryder Cup is about for us Europeans: if you make the team, you do your best to get as many points as possible. If you don’t qualify, you do everything to support the team to win the trophy.
The 2012 Ryder Cup putt (where Kaymer clinched the Ryder Cup on the final green in his Singles match) is by far the most important putt in my career. There can´t be any other situation with a similar amount of pressure.
Playing for your continent, your country, your team, the vice captains, the captain: this was the ultimate challenge and every time things heat up on the golf course, I can remind myself that I have mastered that already.
GA: Are you considering your options regarding the Australian Open or PGA either side of the World Cup of Golf or is this a one week-only visit Down Under?
“I won´t be able to play the Australian Open but I have thought about the Australian PGA,” – Martin Kaymer
MK: That depends on my next tournaments in Europe. Of course I would like to take the chance to experience some of the great golf courses in Australia but on the other hand, it has been a very long season for me. I have not really decided yet on how long I will stay in Australia.
In case I qualify for Dubai (the season-ending DP World Tour Championship), I won´t be able to play the Australian Open but I have thought about the Australian PGA. Decision has not been made yet, I will see how I feel in a couple of weeks.
I am really looking forward to getting back to Australia to compete in the World Cup of Golf.