Kaymer wins for his mother once again

By Jason SobelMay 12, 2014, 3:11 am

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – In the place on his golf bag usually reserved for sponsorship logos or college insignias, right under his name in block letters, Martin Kaymer has a single sunflower.

No words. No commercialization. Just a single sunflower featuring a single petal falling from its stem, unmistakably imitating a lonely teardrop.

The sunflower was his mother’s favorite. One of the world’s most talented players, he could easily sell this space on his bag to the highest bidder, collecting a valuable sum for the rights.

Instead, he uses it to honor and remember her.

Rina Kaymer passed away in 2008 after complications from skin cancer.

Her youngest son didn’t need a reminder that it was Mother’s Day when he woke up Sunday morning. He received one anyway. Martin’s brother, Philip, two years his elder, sent him an early message about their mom.

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“I got a really, really nice text message this morning from my brother,” Martin Kaymer later said, “which was very emotional.”

What did it say?

“That stays between us. It was a very nice text. It was very emotional. I don't get those texts usually from my brother.”

The Players Championship is golf’s annual celebration of motherhood. It traditionally ends on Mother’s Day, with most competitors in the field draped in various shades of pink to commemorate the occasion.

Kaymer was among those competitors on Sunday. Following rounds of 63-69-72, he entered the final day in a share of the lead with Jordan Spieth, seeking his first full-field victory in three years.

And it’s been a rough three years.

Swing changes led to poor performances; poor performances led to a lack of confidence; a lack of confidence led to more swing changes.

But that seemingly never-ending cycle was showing signs of ending. He finished 31st at last month’s Masters Tournament, then 23rd in his next start after that and 18th just last week. In a game where timing is everything, he was at least trending in the right direction.

Now he had a chance to break that winless drought on a day reserved for honoring mothers.

He’d flourished in these situations in the past. Back in 2006, when Rina was first hospitalized, he enlisted Philip as caddie and won the Vodafone Challenge on the European Challenge Tour, later presenting her with the trophy in her hospital room.

Two years later, with his mother growing sicker, he lost a six-stroke lead at the BMW International Open, only to prevail in a playoff.

Afterward, he looked into a camera lens and sent her a message: “This victory was just for you.”

She died two weeks later.

Winning at TPC Sawgrass was never going to be an easy proposition, but midway through the final round, Kaymer was making it look that way. He took a one-stroke lead on the eighth hole, then a two-stroke lead on the ninth. He extended it to three on the 10th hole and, with his third birdie of the day, he led by four on the 11th.

It appeared nothing could stop him from victory – until the horn sounded, suspending play for severe weather while he was on the 14th hole.

After the 91-minute delay, Kaymer reemerged without his rhythm. He carded a double bogey on the 15th hole, then made a sloppy par on the par-5 16th.

He arrived at the potentially treacherous par-3 17th hole, famously surrounded by water, site of so many implosions in Players Championships of the past, leading by just one stroke over Jim Furyk, who had already finished the round.

Kaymer's tee shot barely carried the front bunker, then spun off a slope directly toward the front of the green. Picking up speed as it rolled, the ball somehow – inexplicably – stuck in the narrow patch of rough separating success from tragedy.

“It was a good shot, I thought,” Kaymer said. “If it's unlucky and goes in the water, I have to congratulate Jim.”

He stopped short of referring to the result as divine inspiration. But on Mother’s Day, for a man who so obviously remembers and honors his mother, you could excuse him if he had.

From there, he flubbed a chip, but holed an equally inexplicable 28-foot par putt. He carded a less nauseating par on the final hole to clinch the title, his first against a full field in three years and yet another with his mother in the forefront of his thoughts.

“To win on Mother's Day,” he said, “we show our parents way too little, way too less. We always need some occasions to show them, which is what you realize when they're not there anymore.”

This was about as sentimental as he would get, at least publicly. He won on Mother’s Day, yes, but to Kaymer, it was no different than any other day.

“I think about her every day,” he said with a pause. “I don't need a Mother's Day.”

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McIlroy 'happy to be back', can 'empathize' with Tiger

By Associated PressJanuary 16, 2018, 3:50 pm

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After a long layoff from golf, Rory McIlroy has some newfound sympathy for Tiger Woods.

The 28-year-old Northern Irishman is making a comeback at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship after ending his season early last year. He has not played a round since the final day of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship on Oct. 8.

McIlroy, a four-time major champion who has slipped to No. 11 in the world rankings, last won the Tour Championship on the PGA Tour in September 2016. He injured a rib in his first outing of 2017 – at the South African Open – and felt its after-effects throughout the year.

McIlroy, who has seven top-five finishes in his last eight starts in Abu Dhabi, said Tuesday he felt mentally low because of his physical issues.

''Honestly, I was excited to be done. I could have shut it down after the PGA Championship very easily and taken the rest of the year off, but I didn't. I played six events after that, played OK and had a chance to win one of them,'' McIlroy said. ''But I was just excited to take that time off and get myself just sort of a re-set.''

Last week, McIlroy also revealed that he has a minor, non-threatening heart condition that needs regular check-ups.

''After that 3-plus months of a re-set, I'm very happy to be back. I felt like I needed it physically and mentally. I just felt like it was a little bit of a sabbatical. I've been out here for 10 years, and I want to get ready for the next 10.''

McIlroy compared his situation to what Woods has been going through.

''I've only been through, maybe, not even 5 percent of what he's had to go through. And you can tell from where he was to where he is now mentally, because of physically where he is ... he's a totally different person,'' McIlroy said. ''Of course, I empathize with him, and I know he was in a dark place there for a while. It's just so great to see him out of that and back and excited to be playing golf again.''

The Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship will be the first of back-to-back events for McIlroy, who is also playing next week in Dubai.

''I think the next two weeks will be a big learning curve, just to see where I'm at,'' McIlroy said. ''I'm obviously coming into the events trying to play as well as I can and trying to compete and trying to win, but I think there will definitely be things I'll have to work on going into that stretch in the States.''

The tournament, which starts Thursday, has attracted some big names, including top-ranked Dustin Johnson, No. 6 Justin Rose, No. 9 Henrik Stenson, No. 14 Paul Casey and No. 15 Matt Kuchar. No. 18 Tommy Fleetwood is the defending champion.

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Pre-tourney caution be damned: Stenson rides camel

By Grill Room TeamJanuary 16, 2018, 3:29 pm

If you were under the impression Henrik Stenson's days of engaging in pre-tournament hijinks at HSBC-sponsored events were over, then you don't know the Swedish Superman.

Ahead of this week's HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, the 2016 champion golfer of the year decided to have some fun riding (and pretend-spanking) a camel:

If you can't imagine any reason Stenson wouldn't get on a camel, we will point you to the WGC-HSBC Champions back in October, when Stenson, Dustin Johnson, Haotong Li and Hideki Matsuyama took place in this hire-wire act:

Two weeks later, Stenson revealed a rib injury, and a report from the U.K.'s Telegraph stated "that not only was the Shanghai caper to blame, but that Stenson is annoyed about being persuaded to do it in the first place."

Stenson brushed back at that report in this Instagram post, saying that his "comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal."

I’m disappointed to have to pre-emptively withdraw from the Nedbank Golf Challenge Hosted by Gary Player, I was looking forward to this important year-end event on the European Tour. At this point I am back home in Orlando waiting to do a scan on my ribs and get the necessary rest. I am still hoping for a quick recovery and have not ruled out playing in Dubai next week at this point. My comment about not being Superman was a sarcastic way of saying that I am susceptible to injury like any other athlete and sometimes these things happen when you least expect them. I was pleased to help promote the HSBC Champions and to continue my string of success at the event and I was never forced to do anything. HSBC is a great sponsor to golf worldwide and I am not happy to see them being made responsible for my withdrawal. The plan as of now will be to participate in the DP World Championship if my body is back to 100%. H

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And it would appear he genuinely meant those comments, at least enough to get on a camel.

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Spieth, McIlroy to support Major Champions Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:25 pm

Nick Faldo announced Tuesday the creation of the Major Champions Invitational.

The event, scheduled for March 12-14, is an extension of the Faldo Series and will feature both male and female junior players at Bella Collina in Montverde, Fla.

Jordan Spieth, Rory Mcllroy, Annika Sorenstam, Adam Scott, Henrik Stenson, Jerry Pate and John Daly have already committed to supporting the event, which is aimed at mentoring and inspiring the next generation of players.  

“I’m incredibly excited about hosting the Major Champions Invitational, and about the players who have committed to support the event,” Faldo said. “This event will allow major champions to give something back to the game that has given them so much, and hopefully, in time, it will become one of the most elite junior golf events in the world.”

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Rosaforte: Woods plays with Obama, gets rave reviews

By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 16, 2018, 2:15 pm

Golf Channel insider Tim Rosaforte reports on Tiger Woods’ recent round at The Floridian in Palm City, Fla., alongside President Barack Obama.

Check out the video, as Rosaforte says Woods received rave reviews from instructor Claude Harmon.