With singing, chanting and revelry, the first tee shot is different from anything in golf. Kaymer said he wasn’t comfortable in that atmosphere when he teed it up at his first Ryder Cup in Wales in 2010.
“It was very intimidating for me,” said Kaymer, the reigning U.S. Open champ. “It was too much. I couldn't really handle the whole situation. I couldn't use it in a positive way. It was more distracting for my mind ... I don't know how to explain it, playing in the jungle a little bit, without having a clear mind.”
Kaymer sought out Hall of Famer and fellow German Bernhard Langer two years ago to help him understand how to handle the first tee and other craziness of Ryder Cups going to Medinah. Kaymer won the singles match that clinched Europe’s epic comeback that year.
“Pretty much the moral of the whole talk was: In the end of the day, it's just you, the golf ball and the golf course that you have to play,” Kaymer said. “If the people wouldn't be there, that's it. It's pretty simple. And then we talked about, imagine now if you can use the thousands of people for yourself in a positive way, that they carry you, so there's nothing negative about it. But I didn't think that clear when I was there in 2010. Now it's a little bit different. You can use it to raise your game.”
The dynamic will be heightened at Gleneagles this year, with players walking through a tunnel before emerging for a long walk in front of the crowd on the way to the first tee.