Kaymer reaches the top with wins not questions

By Associated PressMarch 1, 2011, 3:35 am
2005 WGC Accenture Match PlayMARANA, Ariz. – Four years ago in another desert, caddie Fanny Sunesson was sitting near the putting green at Bighorn Golf Club waiting for her work day to start when she mentioned her part-time job with the German national team.

Bernhard Langer was approaching 50. There was no heir apparent in German golf.

Sunesson, filling in for Michelle Wie at the time, mentioned one young prospect with natural skill and amazing poise who had recently turned pro. His name was Martin Kaymer.

“Didn’t I tell you to remember his name?” she asked playfully from behind the 10th green Saturday morning at Dove Mountain, where she watched Kaymer dispose of another opponent in the Match Play Championship on his way to becoming No. 1 in the world.

Stardom came faster for Kaymer than it has for any player this side of Tiger Woods.

And there were early signs of greatness, even if not as many people were paying attention.

Kaymer shot 59 on a mini-tour in Europe, a magic number at any level. He earned his European Tour card without going to Q-school, then was rookie of the year. After winning his first European Tour event in 2008 at Abu Dhabi, he threw down a birdie-birdie-eagle finish in Dubai to finish one shot behind Woods.

Ernie Els wasn’t kidding three years ago when he said of Kaymer, “He’s going to be something, I promise you.”

Kaymer officially took over as No. 1 in the world on Monday. How long he stays at the top remains to be seen, for Lee Westwood will have a chance to take it back this week at the Honda Classic.

This time, however, this is no debate over No. 1.

Despite critics of the world ranking system – most of them in the United States – Westwood earned his No. 1 ranking. Although he has not won a major, no one performed better and more consistently in the biggest tournaments over the two-year period that the ranking uses to measure players around the world.

So why the debate?

Westwood only had three wins during those years. One was the St. Jude Classic, a middle-tier event on the PGA Tour, and only because Robert Garrigus made triple bogey on the 18th hole. Adding to the skepticism, Westwood was home in England the day he reached No. 1, clinched when Kaymer didn’t finish in the top two that week at the Andalucia Masters.

Kaymer’s rise to the top was far more active.

The 26-year-old German has won seven times over the last two years. He won a major with the kind of shots that suggest the PGA Championship won’t be his last one. Kaymer holed a 15-foot par putt on the last hole that got him into a playoff. After Bubba Watson birdied the first of a three-hole playoff, Kaymer answered with a birdie on the toughest par 3 at Whistling Straits.

That was the start of three straight wins.

There already is a mystique about the “Germanator,” who has no glaring weakness and is determined to fix the flaws only he can see. When Europe’s best  – not to mention Phil Mickelson – gathered at the Abu Dhabi Championship, Kaymer beat the strongest field on the European Tour by eight shots.

And when Westwood was bounced out of the second round of the Match Play Championship, it opened up an opportunity for Kaymer to reach No. 1 if he could get to the championship match.

He rallied over the final six holes to beat Hunter Mahan in the third round. He hit hybrid onto the 18th green to secure par and beat Miguel Angel Jimenez in the quarterfinal, then calmly holed an 8-foot par on the 18th hole to beat Watson in the semifinal.

For sure, Kaymer did not back his way into No. 1.

It would have been even sweeter to win a World Golf Championship on his way to No. 1.

But that wasn’t necessary.

There should be no argument about it. For now – and perhaps for awhile – Kaymer is the guy to beat, although the ranking is so volatile that a half-dozen players could be No. 1 when the Masters rolls around.

Woods has slipped to No. 5, his lowest ranking since the week before he won the 1997 Masters. Kaymer might be a solid No. 2 if not for Woods’ free fall, first with his personal life and then with his golf swing. Kaymer’s average in the world ranking is 8.36. Woods was at 14.67 when the 2009 season ended.

So in that respect, Woods has as much to do with who’s No. 1 as the player who gets there.

What’s different this time around is that Kaymer is nearly a decade younger than Woods, polished but not quite refined. His best golf could still be ahead of him.

Kaymer might have been here even sooner if not for some emotional and physical bumps along the way.

His mother died in 2008, just three weeks after Kaymer won the BMW International Open in Munich. A year later, he won the French Open and Scottish Open in consecutive weeks and had a shot at his first Order of Merit before injuring his foot in a go-cart accident and missing six crucial weeks.

Being No. 1 is not likely to alter his ambition.

“I want to go out and win tournaments. I want to compete, get myself in the last group on Sunday and feel that heat, preferably against the best players ever, so that I can compare myself,” Kaymer said. “And if I compare myself, I can see my weaknesses or strengths that I have, and I can move on and work on that.

“But it’s always the vision of getting better and winning more tournaments,” he said. “That’s what keeps me going. And that is what I love to do.”

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Bjorn adds four Ryder Cup veterans as vice captains

By Will GrayMay 22, 2018, 1:05 pm

European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn has added a quartet of vice captains for the biennial matches this fall in Paris.

Bjorn had already named Robert Karlsson as his first assistant, and he announced Tuesday at the BMW PGA Championship that his group of advisors will also include major champions Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell, and former world No. 1s Lee Westwood and Luke Donald.

Westwood is among Europe's most decorated Ryder Cup players, and his addition in this role signals he likely won't participate as a player in the matches for the first time since 1995. The Englishman has spoken openly about his desire to captain the European squad at Whistling Straits in 2020, but he's been quiet on the course in recent months, with a missed secondary cut at the Houston Open his only start since mid-February.

Harrington is seen as another possible captain for the 2020 matches, and he'll don an earpiece for the third straight Ryder Cup, having represented Europe as a player on six straight teams from 1999-2010.

Donald played on four Ryder Cup teams from 2004-12, with the Europeans winning each time he was on the roster. This will mark his first stint as a vice captain, as Donald announced last month that he would be sidelined indefinitely while recovering from a back injury.

At age 38, McDowell will be the youngest vice captain in the room, having holed the winning putt eight years ago at Celtic Manor. He won the French Open in both 2013 and 2014 at Le Golf National, site of this year's matches, and will also be making his debut as a vice captain.

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Bidder pays $50,000 to caddie for Woods

By Grill Room TeamMay 22, 2018, 12:28 pm

Someone has paid $50,000 to caddie for Tiger Woods at this year’s Hero World Challenge.

An unnamed bidder paid for the opportunity at an auction Saturday night at Tiger Jam, where monies are raised to support the Tiger Woods Foundation.



The Hero World Challenge will be contested Nov. 29-Dec. in Albany, Bahamas. The pro-am is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 28.

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NCAA DI Women's Champ.: Scoring, TV times

By Golf Channel DigitalMay 22, 2018, 11:28 am

The NCAA Division I Women's Golf Championship is underway at Kartsen Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Okla.

After three days of stroke play, eight teams have advanced to the match-play portion of the championship. Quarterfinals and semifinals will be contested on Tuesday, with the finals being held on Wednesday. Golf Channel is airing the action live.

Wake Forest junior Jennifer Kupcho won the individual title. Click here for live action, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.

Scoring:

TV Times (all times ET):

Tuesday
11AM-conclusion: Match-play quarterfinals (Click here to watch live)
4-8PM: Match-play semifinals

Wednesday
4-8PM: Match-play finals

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Arizona grabs last spot with eagle putt, playoff win

By Ryan LavnerMay 22, 2018, 3:18 am

STILLWATER, Okla. – With her team freefalling in the standings, Arizona coach Laura Ianello was down to her last stroke.

The Wildcats began the final round of the NCAA Championship in third place, but they were 19 over par for the day, and outside the top-8 cut line, with only one player left on the course.

Bianca Pagdaganan had transferred from Gonzaga to compete for NCAA titles, and on the 17th hole Ianello told her that she needed to play “the best two holes of your life” to keep the dream alive.

She made par on 17, then hit a 185-yard 6-iron out of a divot to 30 feet. Not knowing where she stood on the final green, Pagdaganan felt an eerie calm over the ball. Sure enough, she buried the eagle putt, setting off a raucous celebration and sending the Wildcats into a play-five, count-four team playoff with Baylor at 33 over par.

Their match-play spot wasn’t yet secure, but Ianello still broke down in tears.


NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Team scoring

NCAA Women’s DI Championship: Individual scoring


“Bianca is such an inspiration for all of us,” she said. “She’s the kind of kid that you want to root for, to have good things happen to.”

Arizona prevailed on the second playoff hole. As the 8 seed, the Wildcats will play top-seeded UCLA in the quarterfinals Tuesday at Karsten Creek.

Though the finish had plenty of drama, no teams played their way into the coveted top 8 on the final day of stroke-play qualifying.

Baylor came closest. The Bears barely advanced past regionals after a mysterious stomach virus affected several players and coaches. They competed in the final round with just four healthy players.

On Monday, Gurleen Kaur put Baylor in position to advance, shooting 68, but the Bears lost by three strokes on the second extra hole.

Arkansas finished one shot shy of the team playoff. The second-ranked Razorbacks, who entered NCAAs as one of the pre-tournament favorites, having won seven times, including their first SEC title, couldn’t overcome a 308-300 start and finished 10th. Player of the Year favorite Maria Fassi finished her week at 19 over par and counted only two rounds toward the team total.