Vaulting Toward the Top

By Randall MellJanuary 22, 2011, 1:00 am

Germany’s Martin Kaymer is caught up in the climb.

Ask Kaymer if he wants to be No. 1 in the world rankings, and he’ll tell you he’s not sure he’s ready to reach the peak, but he’s relishing the journey, the challenge of scaling the mountain.

The greatest German golfer who ever lived likes that about Kaymer.

“Martin’s focused, level-headed, not full of himself at all,” says Bernhard Langer, the two-time Masters winner with 83 worldwide titles. “He knows he needs to keep improving, and he takes things step by step. He sets small goals knowing if he achieves them they’ll turn into big goals.”

Kaymer reached a peak no other German but Langer’s reached when he won a major championship late last summer. Now, with Friday’s run up the leaderboard in a bid to defend his title at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, Kaymer’s scaling closer to reaching yet another mountaintop only Langer’s reached in German golf history. Kaymer’s closing in on the No. 1 world ranking.

With a top-seven finish Sunday, Kaymer’s assured of climbing over Tiger Woods into the No. 2 spot in the Official World Golf Ranking.

With a victory, Kaymer won’t surpass Lee Westwood as No. 1 in the world, but he’ll persuade a lot of people that he ought to be No. 1. In fact, a lot of people already believe he’s the best player on the planet over the last year.

Abu Dhabi would be Kaymer’s fifth title in the last 13 months, a haul that includes the PGA Championship.

Westwood? He’s won twice in that span, with one of those victories against a 12-man field at the Nedbank Challenge in South Africa.

Martin Kaymer
Martin Kaymer's victory at the 2010 PGA Championship made him just the second German to win a major championship.

Woods? He’s winless over the last 13 months.

At 26, Kaymer sometimes seems unprepared for the swiftness of the success he’s earning, but preparation is what he’s so intently focused upon.

“I see 2011 a little bit as a year of practicing, of improving myself in order to play well the next two, three, four years,” Kaymer told a media gathering on the eve of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

Three or four years? The man could be No. 1 in two weeks.

“It’s not my goal,” Kaymer said. “Maybe, at one stage, but not this year.

“If it comes, it would be great this year. I will have a few chances this year to become the No. 1, if I play well enough. That’s why I would like to, maybe, become No. 1 as a little side goal. If I play well in the World Golf Championships or the majors or big events, it will happen automatically, but it's not my main goal to become No. 1 in the world.”

Langer reigned as No. 1 for three weeks in April of 1986. He was the first player to hold the top spot with the creation of the Official World Golf Ranking, known back then as the Sony world rankings.

Langer’s long-time coach, Willie Hofmann, has been working with Langer in Boca Raton, Fla., the last couple weeks. He sees a lot of Langer in Kaymer.

“I’ve known Martin a long time,” Hofmann said. “Like Bernhard, he’s very dedicated, always working, working working.”

For years, Langer’s been asked when the next great German golfer will rise up and follow in his footsteps. He isn’t being asked anymore.

“I’ve been hoping for this for many, many years,” Langer said. “There were a couple guys who looked like they could be pretty good, but nobody was as good as Martin is. He’s in a different class.

“Martin’s a hard worker, and he’s learned a good technique. He hits the ball far, he hits it straight, and he’s got a pretty good short game. You put that all together, and that’s what a champion is made of.”

Langer is rooting for Kaymer to gain the No. 1 world ranking.

“I believe it could very well happen,” Langer said. “I think he has all that it takes. He has the mental capacity and all the rest. He’s still very young. It might not happen right away, but if he stays healthy and focused, I think it will happen one day.'

That time may be coming faster than anyone believed possible, including Kaymer.

Follow Randall Mell on Twitter @RandallMell

Getty Images

Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.

Rose weathering delayed Indonesian Masters

By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose held a three-stroke lead after eight holes of the third round Saturday when play was suspended for the day due to bad weather at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose was 3-under on the day and led his playing partners Kiradech Aphibarnrat and Scott Vincent. The Englishman led both players by a stroke after the second round was completed Saturday morning due to weather delays on Friday.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters.

Getty Images

Lexi (wrist) WDs from Diamond Resorts Invitational

By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 15, 2017, 11:27 pm

Lexi Thompson on Friday withdrew from the Diamond Resorts Invitational, citing inflammation in her wrist. Thompson, who teamed with Tony Finau to finish tied for fourth place in last week's QBE Shootout, said she is under strict doctor's order not to hit golf balls until mid-January.

The Diamond Resorts Invitational is scheduled Jan. 12-14 at Tranquilo Golf Club in Orlando, Fla. The field for te 54-hole event includes LPGA and PGA Tour Champions players, as well as celebrities from the worlds or sports and entertainment.

Getty Images

Rose leads Indonesian Masters; Snedeker WDs

By Associated PressDecember 15, 2017, 2:04 pm

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Justin Rose completed the final two holes of his second round early Saturday for a 3-under 69 and a one-stroke lead at the Indonesian Masters.

Rose, who had a first-round 62, was among a quarter of the field forced off the Royale Jakarta Golf Club course after weather delays on Friday.

The Englishman, who bogeyed his last hole, had a two-round total of 13-under 131.

Kiradech Aphibarnrat, who completed his 64 on Friday, was in second place.

Brandt Snedeker withdrew with apparent heat exhaustion on Friday on the 11th hole of the second round. Ranked 51st in the world, he flew to Jakarta looking to move inside the top 50 by the end of the year and ensure a spot in next year's Masters. He has been affected by a rib-sternum injury for most of the season.