Defending champ Kaymer 'OK' with up-and-down 2014

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – It was a dominant run followed by a just as subdued, and maybe even predictable, stretch.

In three tournaments last year, Martin Kaymer finished first, tied for 29th and first. Of course, those bookend victories were at the U.S. Open and The Players, where Kaymer returns this week to defend his title.

He followed that stretch, which lifted him to 11th in the Official World Golf Ranking, with just a single top-10 finish the rest of the year (T-7 at the Deutsche Bank Championship) on the PGA Tour, and on Wednesday at TPC Sawgrass he said the swoon was predictable, maybe even preferred.

“I really wanted to enjoy that win that I had at the U.S. Open,” he said. “The mistake in 2010 [PGA Championship] that I didn’t really take the time for myself to enjoy winning a major.”

Kaymer went home to Germany following his victory at Pinehurst and basked in the celebration of being a two-time major champion.

He also said, at 30 years old, he’s learned how to pace himself and not give in to his desire to seek perfection.

“It’s OK today practicing a little bit more after the press conference and then watching Bayern [Munich] against Barcelona [soccer]. It’s OK,” he laughed. “In the past I felt like, you play an important tournament, maybe you should do another hour of practice.”