Posted on: August 12, 2011 4:16 pm

Kaymer defenseless in return to PGA

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. -- The manufacturer of Martin Kaymer's golf clubs gave him and other guys using that brand of clubs a new golf bag this week, just for the season's final major.

At the bottom of the TaylorMade bag were stitched the words, "Hotlanta 2011."

This time around, the PGA Championship's defending champion found it pretty hot in the kitchen.

Kaymer sputtered to a 3-over 73 on Friday and finished at 5 over, which was a shot on the wrong side of the projected cutline as the afternoon wave of play was touring Atlanta Athletic Club.

Kaymer made a 30-footer for birdie on the last hole, and smirked afterward that it far too little, too late.

"I made four birdies for the week, ca n you believe it," he complained to his caddie and manager afterward.

Kaymer, ranked No. 3 in the world, said he never remotely got anything generated at Atlanta Athletic Club. He wasn't alone, because the two guys he battled for the title last year at Whistling Straits were beaten up too. Dustin Johnson finished 7 over and Bubba Watson was also on the wrong side of the cutline and still playing in the afternoon session.

"It was not happening," Kaymer said. "I could have played for two more hours out there and nothing more would have happened, either."

For one pretty good reason -- the German star was credited with 64 putts over two days to rank 135th in the field when he finished.

Category: Golf
Posted on: June 16, 2011 10:09 am
Edited on: June 16, 2011 10:40 am

Back nine start puts Open players on backside

BETHESDA, Md. -- As if the U.S. Open isn’t daunting enough, doesn’t cause enough throat constriction, each of the 156 players in the field this week will start one of their first two rounds with a downright frightening tee shot.

Using split tees, the 10th hole at Congressional Country Club is a 220-yard par-3 with a forced carry over a lake. Imagine facing t hat as your opening shot at, say, 8 a.m. in the first round.

That's exactly what the top three players in the world were presented with on Thursday, when Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Martin Kaymer teed off at 8:06 a.m. ET.

The hole, playing 199 yards in the first round, has already taken a significant toll. In five of the first six groups to play the hole, at least one player dunked a ball in the water. The group that played it immediately before the top-three trio rinsed two balls, with Anthony Kim and Ryo Ishikawa making double-bogeys to star their week.

Guess that's why Congressional named it the Blue Course?

Players were actively bag-hawking one another on the tee, trying to pick the best iron to hit, because landing short was clearly not an option.

"It was a 4-, 5- or 6-iron, depending on the player," Westwood said as he walked toward the green. "I think we each hit different clubs."

Donald and Kaymer both birdied the hole to immediately pick up a shot on the field, easily.

Despite the carnage, they were running pretty close to on time. The Donald threesome teed off three minutes behind its scheduled time.

Posted on: May 12, 2011 3:02 pm

Tiger was obviously ailing? Yes and no

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla . -- Two guys with the same front-row seats.

But you'd never know they were watching the same sporting event.

The playing partners of Tiger Woods in the first round of the Players Championship could not have been farther apart in their postround comments about Woods, who quit after nine holes on Thursday. It was almost funny, the difference in their levels of perception with regard to the pain Woods was feeling with his myriad leg issues.

"Tiger looked like he was in pain today," said Matt Kuchar, who shot 69. "It looked like you could tell he was walking quite slowly, quite gingerly it seemed like. He was just last to get to his ball every time as he was just walking so gingerly."

Woods said he aggravated his injuries with the very first swing of the day. Which Kuchar picked up quickly.

"Yeah, probably by the second hole I knew that you could tell," Kuchar said. "That walk wasn't normal, and I think by the third hole started seeing some grimacing."

While Kuchar was almost expecting Woods to stop after nine holes, Kaymer, ranked No. 2 in the world, was clearly caught off guard. Woods handed him his scorecard after walking off the ninth green.

"I was surprised because I was not expecting it," Kaymer said. "But I mean, nobody really knows in how much pain he was [in]."

Kaymer failed to notice that Woods was favoring his right leg and struggling to keep up with his playing pertners.

"Did I notice anything?" Kaymer said. "Yeah, he was walking really slowly. He was walking behind us. But I didn't know that it was because of pain or I just thought that he walks a little slower than me. 

"I didn't really know in how much pain he was. I don't know what he told you guys after the round, but for us, I was focusing on my game. I was not really paying too much attention."

Not a bad idea, really. Kaymer, the defending PGA Championship winner, shot 65 and was in a tie for third after the morning session.

Posted on: April 7, 2011 6:03 pm
Edited on: April 7, 2011 6:08 pm

Kaymer fades after draw experiment fails

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Here's a play on words that pretty easily summarizes the situation of the current world No. 1 as it relates to Augusta National.

You'll never wear the sport coat if the course doesn't fit you.

Germany's Martin Kaymer seems destined for his fourth missed cut in as many Masters appearances after blowing up with a 6-over 78 in the first round that left him dejected and confused.

Kaymer has been working on hitting a draw in order to accentuate any chance he has of winning back-to-back major championships. Instead, it's back to the drawing board. Augusta National is clearly a mystery he isn't close to solving.

"Obviously it's frustrating if you never play well," he said. "It's just a shame that it's obviously a huge tournament here and if it doesn't really suit your eye and you know that quite well, it's a little frustrating, yeah."

Kaymer's new right-to-left ball flight?

"I was trying," he said politely. "It didn't really work out."

Now he's got to stand on the gas and hope for the best on a track where he is a combined 18 over in seven official rounds.

"No, there's not really a game plan," he said. "I don't really know how to play the golf course. I don't know, I can think about another hour or hour and a half or two hours, and I just don't really find a solution.
"I think that maybe I got to sit down with Bernhard Langer later and ask him, you know, he won here twice and I think I can only get good advice from him."

On his own, he had no answers and faces a minimum of 18 more difficult questions.

"Yeah, I need to try something different again," he said. "I don't know what I have to do here. Maybe one day it will work out."

Category: Golf
Posted on: February 27, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2011 2:44 pm

Galoshes, not spikes, needed at Accenture finale

MARANA, Ariz. -- The weather man was right.

Especially about the white.

In a scene that looked something out of a cartoonish Christmas card, the Accenture Match Play Championship course was dusted by nearly an inch of snow Saturday night, leaving the Dove Mountain track coated in layer of powdered sugar as players and fans awakened Sunday morning for the final between Luke Donald and Martin Kaymer.

Donald looked out his hotel window shortly after dawn, took a photo and posted it to his Twitter page, and suggested that he and Kaymer have a snowball fight on the first tee to see who gets to his the first ball of the match. Forecasts all week called for the overnight snowfall, so the semifinals were pushed back to Saturday as a precaution.

Good thing. Tournament officials were confident that the snow would melt, or that it could be removed, in time to mow the greens for the two Sunday matches, set to begin just after 2 p.m. ET. A consolation match between Bubba Watson and Matt Kuchar is also scheduled.

"I think we're in good shape," tournament director Mark Russell told the Associated Press.

Russell told the AP that the tour has dealt with the white stuff in the past, although not very often. it snowed in Tucson in the 1990s and also recalled snow affecting play at the Greensboro Open back when the event was held in early April, he recalled.

For those of us reporting to the office early, it was wintery, wondrous sight. Media had to walk across the snow-covered fairway of one of the resort's other courses in order to get to the press tent, leaving footprints across the white carpet. Cacti are blanketed in white frosting, and look like a thorny desert dessert.

When he walked to the first tee a few minutes before the two matches began, PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem asked, "Did you see the snowman?" Maintenance workers had built one near the clubhouse. Then it began snowing, very lightly, about 10 minutes before the first match started.

At 9:30 a.m. local time, a crew was on the practice tee, using squeegees to scrape the snow off the grass so that players could warm up. Temperatures at 10 a.m. were still barely in the low 40s, but sunshine had broken through and the snow was already melting.

The big question wasn't so much whether the course would be ready, but whether Donald can handle the wetness. Though he hasn't trailed at any point all week and has steamrolled his foes in five matches, the 7,800-yard course could play far longer for the short-hitting Englishman on Sunday.

For the purposes of handicapping the finals, here's some raw data from their head-to-head events over the years, courtesy of Golfweek magazine: In 42 common career tournaments, Donald holds a 24-14-4 over Kaymer. In 127 common individual rounds, Donald leads, 65-50-12.

Kaymer, by virtue of his win in the semis on Saturday, will ascend to the No. 1 world ranking on Monday. Donald can climb to a career-high No. 3 in the ranks if he wins.

If Donald wins, Europe would hold the top four spots in the ranking for the first time since 1992, when there was one American, Fred Couples, in the top seven. The top 10 at that time was:

1. Ian Woosnam, Wales
2. Nick Faldo, England
3. Jose Maria Olazabal, Spain
4. Seve Ballesteros, Spain
5. Fred Couples, USA
6. Bernhard Langer, Germany
7. Greg Norman, Australia
8. Payne Stewart, USA
9. Paul Azinger, USA
10. Mark McNulty, Zimbabwe

Posted on: February 26, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: February 26, 2011 8:02 pm

Kaymer the Climber's ascent complete -- New No. 1

MARANA, Ariz. -- Linguists are going to blurt out the obvious answer to this one.

How do you say one in German?

Don't bet your botton Deutsche mark on the answer, pal. The easy answer is Eine, but it's not the only one -- not after what the Dude from Dusseldorf accomplished over the past two seasons.

After winning four times globally last year and earlier this season in Europe, Martin Kaymer advanced to the finals of the Accenture Match Play Championship with a tight 1-up victory over Bubba Watson on Saturday, mathematically ensuring that he will overtake Lee Westwood at world No. 1 when the new rankings are updated Monday.

Whether Kaymer the Climber wins the match-play finale against Luke Donald on Sunday or not, he's already assured of becoming the 14th player to ascend to the vaunted top position, moving up from his present perch at No. 2.

As ever, the unexcitable boy wasn't exactly doing cartwheels when asked about the impact of his relatively quick climb up the game's ladder. Bernhard Langer is the only other German to top the charts.

"Definitely, I need some time to think about it," he said. "The good thing is, next week, I don't play a tournament, so maybe I can realize what happened. But I can say one thing for sure, it's a very proud moment. Not only for me, I think for my family, for the people who helped me and, you know, for Germany, as well."

Unlike with Westwood, who moved to No. 1 despite recording only one victory in 2010, there won't be any argument on whether Kaymer was a worthy holder of the crown. Kaymer has won seven times in the two-year period from which the rankings are drawn, and has four titles in the past six months, including the PGA Championship, which started the recent run.

That's really where the brilliant burst began. Ironically, he beat Watson in a playoff for the title, leading to three wins in as many starts last fall.

"The PGA Championship gave me so much motivation and so much belief that I can win any tournament that I play," he said. "I think the most important thing was that I kept working on my game, that I didn't stop. I didn't want to be, I don't know, just win once and kind of like you don't hear about me anymore."

There's no flash in this kid's pan. 

"I kept playing and kept winning. I think it's just because of that. I really know that I can win any tournament that I can play in."

At 26, Kaymer is the second-youngest player to make it to world No. 1, behind only 21-year-old Tiger Woods. Don't be surprised if he stays there for a while, either.

They don't call him the Germanator for nothing. He's not prone to emotional outbursts, plays a steady game, and has the requisite 14-piece toolbox. If he has a weakness, nobody has spotted it. He seems to have the perfect temperament -- it never changes.

"I think it's very German," he said with a smile. "If you know Bernhard Langer, the way he is on the golf course, I think it's very good for golf. It helps me a lot to stay calm."

His caddie, Craig Connolly, who has worked for a variety of players, including Paul Casey, doesn't generally consent to interviews. But this was a special occasion. As Kaymer was conducting a post-round interview, Connolly watched like a proud parent.

"Basically, he's just an all-around decent guy," Connolly said. "He's very easygoing."

His golf game is easy on the eyes and steady, too.

"He's like me," Donald said, laughing. "But he hits it farther."

It's a fitting match-play finale, really. European stars Kaymer and Donald amassed the most world-rankings points in 2010. It also extends the notion that Europe has relegated the American contingent to second-citizen status. In fact, if Donald wins, the top four in the world rankings will be Europeans: Kaymer, England's Lee Westwood, Donald and Northern Ireland's Graeme McDowell.

Americans have failed to advance to the Accenture finals in five of the last six years.

Watson pulled to all square on the 13th, then overcooked a cut driver into a bush on the short 14th, had to take a penalty drop, abd gave away the hole. The 32-year-old American fell 2 down, but birdied the 17th to stay alive before Kaymer closed him out with a seven-footer for par on the last.

In a country where golf doesn't often register on the radar, Kaymer becomes the second German to top of the rankings and the first since the inaugural list debuted a quarter-century ago. Langer last occupied the top spot on April 26, 1986.

Westwood held the No. 1 position for 17 weeks, but Kaymer has been piling on the wins.

Category: Golf
Posted on: February 25, 2011 7:05 pm

Kaymer could ascend to No. 1 on Saturday

MARANA, Ariz. -- Martin Kaymer threw an amusing, and yet entirely appropriate, observation on the table after winning his third-round match in the Accenture Match Play Championship on Friday.

He was looking ahead to Saturday's busy schedule, which, because of a distressing local weather forecast, is going to feature two matches instead of the previously scheduled one.

"Hopefully, it's going to be a long day for me," the 26-year-old said.

It could be a professionally rewarding one, too. Because the weather forceast prompted the semifinals to be moved up to Saturday, we'll know a day earlier whether the Germanator can supplant England's Lee Westwood as world No. 1.

All that Kaymer, who has won five times in the past 14 months, needs to do is advance to the match-play finale Sunday and he'll move up a peg from his No. 2 position when the new rankings are released Monday. He's the last of the tournament's four No. 1-seeded players still in the field. Westwood was dispatched in the second round.

"Obviously, yes, it's good for me when we talk about the world rankings," he said. "But I can just take care of my own. Here at this tournament, obviously it's one of the biggest we have all year, and to start off like this, to reach the fourth round, it's obviously nice.

"I had a good start this year already, and if I can get up one more spot in the world rankings, of course I wouldn't mind it. But I think I'll have a chance the next few weeks, months, as well."

He wouldn't mind it? Even for an understated personality like Kaymer, that's a low-key way of describing what's now within tantalizing reach. Saturday, he will play former Ryder Cup teammate Miguel Angel Jimenez, who is 20 years his senior.

Three matches down, two to go, and it could all add up to No. 1 by Saturday night for Kaymer the Climber.

Category: Golf
Posted on: February 15, 2011 12:23 pm
Edited on: February 15, 2011 1:29 pm

Transitions sees stars: Loading up on Euros

For the director of a PGA Tour event, the general plan when doling out sponsor exemptions is to allocate them to players who bring generate noise from a marketing and fan context.

It's hard to envision how the Transitions Championship in Tampa could have done much better, for a variety of reasons.

The tournament announced Tuesday that exemptions have been issued to three of the most exciting players on the European Tour, each of whom brings a different wrinkle.

World No. 2 Martin Kaymer of Germany, generally considered the hottest player on the planet over the past 13 months, teenage sensation Matteo Manassero of Italy and last week's winner in Dubai, power player Alvaro Quiros of Spain, all have committed to play at Innisbrook Resort when the event begins March 17.
Kaymer, making his debut at the event, will be the highest-ranked player ever to enter the Tampa tournament if he holds his ranking until next month. Only 26, the reigning PGA Championship winner has five worldwide wins over the past 13 months and played on the winning Ryder Cup team.

Manassero makes Kaymer look like an old man. Still 17, last year he became the youngest player ever to win a European Tour event and he's currently ranked No. 57 in the world. Japan's Ryo Ishikawa, 20, earlier was awarded an exemption, giving the event the two top-ranked players on the planet age 20 or younger. Ishikawa is ranked No. 40.

Quiros, whose charisma is surpassed only by his ability to hit balls into the next county, won last week in Dubai, climbed to a career-best 21st in the world with his fifth European win.

Both Quiros and Manassero are playing on sponsor’s exemptions. Kaymer and Ishikawa are playing on a commissioner's foreign exemption.

The Tampa field is expected to include three players from the world top 10 in Kaymer, Steve Stricker and defending champion Jim Furyk.

Category: Golf
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