Kaymer's quiet confidence
The last 15 majors have been won by 15 different players, with as many as nine of that number first-time winners. As you would expect, each of the nine now has his heart set on standing out from that illustrious little crowd by capturing the Claret Jug.
Martin Kaymer, who finished seven shots behind Jeev Milkha Singh at Castle Stuart on Sunday, could be the man. Where so many others are on red alert as they embark on Open week, the winner of the 2010 PGA championship is in an enviable state of calm.
He arrived at this happy state a week ago. Having had a lacklustre time of it at the French Open, he went home for a few days and spent last Monday at the beck and call of his grandmother. At a time when his rivals would have been sharpening their wedge play and working on their putting, Kaymer was trimming hedges and mowing the lawn.
"It was like therapy," said the most successful German since Bernhard Langer. "I had not planned on doing any of that but it was nice. Nice to go back to the old days when I played in my grandmother's back yard as a child.
"What we're doing," he volunteered of his often glamorous life-style as a professional, "isn't normal - and you don't want to lose touch with being normal."
Kaymer thanks his lucky stars for his parents whom, he says, have played their part in helping to keep him well-grounded. In golf, for instance, they are not always heaping praise on him for what he has achieved. If his brother or his parents see him doing something differently, they will not hesitate to speak out.
"Sometimes," explains Kaymer, "they will notice that I have lost a bit of focus, or they might say, 'You need to go back to doing such and such a thing.' The point is they are always honest with me and you can never get upset by that."
When Kaymer won the PGA championship he did not, for a minute, sit back and think to himself that he had made it. He was intent on getting better - and felt that he should waste no time in improving his technique.
He has probably taken a hit in terms of results over the last 18 months, but he goes into this week in the knowledge that he can now draw the ball virtually as well as he can hit it the other way. All of which should help when it comes to steering clear of the Lytham rough which Tiger Woods has described as "almost unplayable".
For another explanation as to why there are good vibes emanating from thiw Ryder Cup man, he is in his element playing in the UK. After saying last week how much he felt at home in Scotland, he extended that to the whole of Britain. "You know there's going to be bad weather but you also know you're playing in front of a great crowd and a knowledgeable one. That, in itself, helps with the confidence."
Less than six months after Luke Donald and his brother, Christian. decided that they were no longer as good a player-caddie team as they had been at the start, Christian got Kaymer's bag. It was the one he wanted.
Not too much was different, with Christian saying that he revelled in his return to a player who, like Luke, remains on an even keel from the first hole to the last. Again, though Luke has been known to get a tad irritated when people ask on how he has arrived at the No. 1 spot in the world without winning a major, both players like being under the radar insofar as that is possible.
If they don't get as much coverage in the media as, say, a Monty, a Sergio or, of course, a Tiger, they are not going to complain.
As Kaymer himself says, "We both leave our clubs to do the talking..."
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