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Kaymer under the radar, but feeling confident

SANDWICH, England – Martin Kaymer has drawn little attention in the buildup to the British Open despite being ranked No. 3 in the world.

The rise of Rory McIlroy is putting most players in the shadows, and Kaymer is flying well below the radar, perhaps because of his failure to win a tournament since cruising to an eight-shot victory in Abu Dhabi in January.

The 26-year-old German, who is the reigning PGA Championship winner and a former top-ranked player, says his recent record isn’t stopping him from feeling bullish heading into the tournament at Royal St. George’s.

“The good thing about the British Open is you don’t have to play beautiful golf – you just have to score well,” Kaymer said. “The British Open is so different than all the other tournaments and that makes it very special and new.”

In his fourth appearance at the British Open, Kaymer has enlisted the help of compatriot Bernhard Langer, who finished second at Royal St. George’s in 1981 and tied for third in 1985.

Those were two of a number of near misses for the former European Ryder Cup captain, whose major wins both came at The Masters, in 1985 and ’93.

“Yesterday, we talked a little bit about his finishes here … and then we talked about the golf course, what has changed and obviously about the upcoming weeks,” Kaymer said. “Of course, Bernhard was and still is a big inspiration.”

As is McIlroy, whose eight-shot victory at the U.S. Open at Congressional last month provided another boost to a European game that is riding the crest of a wave.

Kaymer’s PGA victory in a playoff at Whistling Straits gave that European charge more momentum in August, but he knows he needs to step up to another level to match the current achievements of McIlroy.

“I was watching the back nine when Rory played (his last round at Congressional) and the way he played made me feel like I need to practice more,” Kaymer said.

“I need to go back to the driving range. I need to hit more balls, need to become a better player because he played that golf course in almost a perfect way. It motivates and inspires you.”

Kaymer will play with defending champion Louis Oosthuizen and sixth-ranked Phil Mickelson in the opening two rounds.