DORAL, Fla. – Martin Kaymer celebrated his rise to world No. 1 without ever leaving America.
The 26-year-old German has a home in Scottsdale, Ariz., which is where he spent last week after his runner-up finish in the Match Play Championship that allowed him to replace Lee Westwood atop the ranking.
His brother and a friend flew in from Germany, only to tell him the next day they were leaving for the airport. Kaymer couldn’t figure out why they were going home so soon, but he found out when they got to the airport.
They were there to pick up Kaymer’s father, Horst, who joined the celebration.
“He says, ‘Next time in Germany, who knows if you’re still No. 1, so I just wanted to take the opportunity to say congratulations,”’ Kaymer said. “And yeah, the next day he flew out again in Germany. Not a lot of parents do that, and it was nice. I was a 30-hour trip for pretty much 24 hours he was there.”
Kaymer could have lost the No. 1 ranking had Westwood finished third at the Honda Classic, and the battle for No. 1 figures to continue all the way through to the Masters. Westwood again will have a chance to get back the top spot at Doral.
“I really don’t care,” Kaymer said. “I’ve been No. 1 in the world at least for seven days. No one can take it away from me.”
The celebration went beyond family.
Kaymer said he received a call last week from two-time Masters champion Bernhard Langer, who was No. 1 when the world ranking made its debut in 1986. Langer lasted three weeks at the top and never returned.
“He just said he’s very proud of how he kept everything together, that I have a very good family and people around me who keep everything in line, that I never really lose my focus on things,” Kaymer said.
He said Langer told him that not many athletes have good people around him, and to keep his circle as small as possible. They also talked about playing a practice round at Augusta National.
TOUR DEPTH: Europe has the top four players in the world ranking. The strength of the PGA Tour might come from the likes of Mark Wilson, D.A. Points and Aaron Baddeley.
The PGA Tour still has the strongest fields, according to how many ranking points are allocated. Through two months, only twice has a European Tour event offered more points – Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Another statistic that might show depth of the PGA Tour comes from its winners.
Seven of the 10 winners were ranked out of the top 100 in the world. The exceptions were Bubba Watson (No. 33 when he won Torrey Pines), Luke Donald (No. 9 when he won the Match Play) and Wilson, who was No. 91 when he won the Phoenix Open. Wilson had been No. 237 when he first won this year at the Sony Open.
On the European Tour, all but two of its winners were ranked outside the top 50 – Thomas Bjorn (No. 134 when he won the Qatar Masters) and Shiv Shankar Prasad Chowrasia (No. 497 when he won the Avantha Masters in India).
“I think the fields are so deep nowadays,” Rory McIlroy said. “And the difference between the top 10 players and the top 200 players … there’s not that much difference. If you lined everyone up on a range, you couldn’t tell the difference, really.”
It could be a case where Europe has strong fields among the top two dozen, while the PGA Tour is strong all the way to the bottom.
TIGER’S NEW DIGS: Tiger Woods says he is close to moving into his new home in south Florida, and it sounds as though the most exciting part of that is his practice facility.
“It’s phenomenal,” Woods said on his website.
His design team built a short-game practice area that features four greens, six bunkers of various depths and sand, along with a video center and a putting studio.
Without any wind, the longest club he can hit is a 7-iron. Woods also said he can hit shots from his studio on the second floor.
ERNIE’S DILEMMA: Ernie Els was fitted for a Presidents Cup uniforms two weeks ago at the Match Play Championship, although he still hasn’t decided where he will be playing Nov. 17-20.
The South African Open, where he is the defending champion, has been moved to the same date as the Presidents Cup in Australia, leaving Els uncertain, along with being a little irate.
Els said is spoke to PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem last week, and that Finchem is meeting with European Tour chief George O’Grady and South African chief Gareth Tindall.
“It’s basically in their hands and it’s a bit of an issue to resolve,” Els said. “Somebody is going to have to move a date or something.”
But he at least recognizes the problem of such a crowded schedule at the end of the year.
The European Tour wants to end its season with the Dubai World Championship, which already has been pushed back because of the Presidents Cup. Previously, two South African events were held in December and were considered the start of the next season.
The top five players in the International team standings are South African, and all played in the South African Open last year.
“It could be quite something,” Els said.
LOCAL CADDIE: Alastair Presnell hired a local caddie for the Nationwide Tour event in Panama two weeks ago, and it became somewhat of a distraction in the final round.
The Australian Associated Press reports that the caddie’s cell phone rang five times during the first seven holes, and Presnell’s patience finally ran thin.
“On the eighth tee, Alastair told his caddie to throw it in the bush,” said Mathew Goggin, who played in Presnell’s group. “So the caddie literally threw it in the bush and walked off.”
Goggin wound up winning by one shot over Presnell and Darron Stiles.
DIVOTS: David Barrett has won the USGA’s Herbert Warren Wind Book Award for his “Miracle at Merion: The Inspiring Story of Ben Hogan’s Amazing Comeback and Victory in the 1950 U.S. Open.” … Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera is playing this week in the Puerto Rico Open with his son, Federico, who received a sponsor’s exemption. … Graeme McDowell has played in two PGA Tour events this year and has tied the course record at both – a 62 on the Plantation Course at Kapalua in the Tournament of Champions and a 64 on the Champion Course at PGA National in the Honda Classic.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Of the four major champions from 2009, Y.E. Yang is the only player to qualified for the World Golf Championship at Doral.
FINAL WORD: “When will I win again? Whenever it happens, it happens. I’m just going to keep trying to progress.”– Tiger Woods.