September 30, 2012
Martin Kaymer quiet, confident heading into Sunday at Ryder Cup
By TIM McKAY, QMI Agency
CHICAGO - Martin Kaymer was just the second German to play in a Ryder Cup.
Sunday night, he avenged his countryman Bernhard Langer here at Medinah Country Club.
As Kaymer rolled in the Ryder Cup-clinching putt, somewhere Langer must have been smiling, and perhaps reminiscing about the similar situation in which he failed some 21 years earlier.
In the 1991 at Kiawah Island, S.C., Langer missed a five-footer that would have allowed the Europeans to retain the Ryder Cup.
"I did think about (Langer) when I walked around that putt," Kaymer said Sunday night. "I was not that nervous. I was still very controlled because I knew what I had to do."
Making such an important shot was also something perhaps Langer wanted to Kaymer to be prepared for.
Kaymer said earlier this week that Langer had contacted him before the Ryder Cup and told him to "be ready."
"When I qualified for the the Ryder Cup team, (Langer) called me the same night, Sunday night, and asked me if I'm ready, if I'm motivated," Kaymer said.
But being ready was easier said than done for Kaymer. The 27-year-old, who barely made the team in the 10th and final automatic berth, has been mired in a long swing-change process, during which he has fallen all the way from No. 1 in the official world golf rankings to No. 32.
After winning the 2010 PGA Championship and holding the world No. 1 rank for eight different weeks, Kaymer reportedly decided that he needed to rebuild his swing because he couldn't hit a draw.
"There was never really a problem," Kaymer said of his swing earlier this week. "But every time I left Augusta, I was very frustrated, not because I had just missed the cut but the way I missed the cut, because I had no idea how it feels to hit a draw.
"So at that stage I was 25 and I thought I had a lot of years ahead of he and I don't want to live with that, just hitting a fade my entire life."
Despite Kaymer's fifth-place finish at the Italian Open a couple of weeks back, European Captain Jose Maria Olazabal didn't seem to have much confidence in the German here this week, despite assurances from the player that his game was in good shape.
After not helping partner Justin Rose much in four-balls Friday afternoon, Kaymer was benched for both of Saturday's events.
Back in action Sunday, Kaymer was only asked to make the biggest putt of the day.
"Graeme (McDowell) had the same experience as me two years ago, and I didn't know how much pressure he must have felt," Kaymer said of his teammate's putt to win at Celtic Manor in 2010.
McDowell said he saw something in his embattled teammate this week.
"He has been quietly confident in the team room this week, even though he has not been playing his best and he has not been winning points, he's just had that quiet confidence, so no better man for the job," McDowell said.
Kaymer is finally starting to see the light with his game coming around and being the European Ryder Cup hero can only help. It's a story he can "hopefully talk about when I have grandchildren someday," but it's also a much-needed positive in a year when not much has gone right.
"I think it will give me a huge push and huge confidence for the next few months and the next year," Kaymer said as his jubilant squad hammed it up around him on the news conference podium.
"If you know you can make those putts, you can do anything."