Kaymer takes big-picture outlook on Players win

By Doug FergusonMay 13, 2014, 12:16 am

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. – Martin Kaymer reached the top of golf and wondered how he got there.

He won his first major at the 2010 PGA Championship. He reached No. 1 in the world six months later. And then he realized his game would not be good enough to stay there.

Kaymer wasn't much different from Tiger Woods, who overhauled his swing not long after a record-setting performance in the 1997 Masters. Kaymer was concerned about being a one-dimensional player - his primary shot was a fade - especially if he wanted to contend at Augusta National and other majors.

He just didn't realize it would take this long.

Halfway through his victory at The Players Championship, he thought back to the time he put in on his game.

''All that work, all the hours,'' Kaymer said. ''When you are standing on the range for six, seven hours, hitting the same shot, the same drill, you feel like it should be enough. You just don't want to be there at one stage because it's so much. And it's a little boring as well. But you know long term, it will become something good.''

It paid off in a big way last week at The Players, the next best thing to a major.

The 29-year-old German tied the course record with a 63 on Thursday and was never behind after any round the rest of the way. His biggest challenge Sunday was when he had to return from a 90-minute storm delay and finish four holes in which he had everything to lose.

Even with a double bogey that cut his lead to one shot, he didn't feel as if the tournament were slipping away.

About the only thing that annoyed him was that ''soft egg'' moment to the left the green on the par-5 16th. Kaymer had spoken all week about being confident enough in his swing to stop thinking about the mechanics and to start playing by feel. He talked about hitting the right shot - the brave shot - not the easy one.

He kept using the word, ''wimp,'' until he jokingly was asked the German word for it.

''Weiches ei,'' he replied in his native language. And then he offered that polite smile and added the English translation. ''It's 'soft egg.'''

Instead of chipping on the 16th, Kaymer decided to use a putter. He didn't hit it nearly hard enough, so instead of having a good chance at birdie, he had to two-putt from over 30 feet just to make par and keep his one-shot lead.

He wound up with one of the craziest pars ever on the island green at the par-3 17th, which ended with a 30-foot putt that broke some 8 feet to the right. And he collected the crystal trophy, along with the $1.8 million check from the richest purse on the PGA Tour.

But that wimpy decision on the 16th gnawed at him even in victory. He wants perfection.

''It's not the right thing to putt it. It's a soft egg,'' he said. ''The swing is all good. I'm happy the way that it works out and the way I go. Everything is fine, and I'm really happy about this. But those things ... on 16, I was not true to myself, and that's painful. It really is. Because it's just not right.

''You can think, 'I won the golf tournament. I should be happy,''' he said. ''And I'm very, very happy about this. But those are things I would like to improve for the future.''

His future again looks bright.

Kaymer now has won 14 times around the world. Even as he was retooling his swing with longtime coach Gunter Kessler, he managed to win a World Golf Championship in Shanghai by closing with a 63. Having barely made a Ryder Cup team in 2012 when Europe would have been better off without him because of his form, Kaymer still had enough left to beat Steve Stricker in the match that assured Europe would keep the cup.

And he won at the end of last year in South Africa.

But it means more to have beaten one of the strongest fields in golf, and to have conquered a course on the TPC Sawgrass that punishes the slightest mistake.

Kaymer never really flinched all week. He put his name out front and stayed there. Darren Clarke noticed it in the second round. Kaymer didn't hit it his best that day, but he scored. That's the golf Clarke remembered.

''He's a proper golfer this one,'' Clarke said. ''He's a finely tuned engineer.''

Perhaps he is ready to take his place among the best in the game. The major season is just getting started.

''Now it's important that you don't stop,'' he said. ''It's very easy to just be happy now, relax and let things happen. But now it's a time we have to work even harder.''

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Tiger Tracker: Tour Championship

By Tiger TrackerSeptember 20, 2018, 7:08 pm

Tiger Woods is looking to close his season with a win at the Tour Championship. We're tracking him this week at East Lake Golf Club.


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Watch: Highlights from Tiger's first round at East Lake

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 20, 2018, 7:00 pm

Tiger Woods is back at the season-ending Tour Championship for the first time since 2013, and he provided the fans in Atlanta with some highlights on the first day of competition.

Still looking for his first win of the year after coming close on numerous occasions, Woods started the day off by splitting the fairway on the first hole with the driver, not even bothering to watch his ball land.

Despite the picture-perfect opening tee shot, Woods would go on to bogey the first hole, but he rebounded with back-to-back birdies on 5 and 6, making putts from 26 and 15 feet.

Tiger's best shot on the front nine came on the par-4 seventh hole after he found the pine straw behind a tree with his drive. The 14-time major champ punched one under the tree limbs and onto the green, then calmly two-putted for par from about 40 feet en route to a front-side 1-under 34.

Woods added two more birdies on the par-4 12th and 14th holes, rolling in putts of 3 feet and 7 feet after a couple of great looking approach shots.

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Garcia (66) peaking for Ryder Cup?

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 20, 2018, 6:17 pm

Sergio Garcia might be finding his form just in time to terrorize the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

Garcia made seven birdies during an opening round of 5-under 66 to sit just two shots off the early lead at the European Tour’s Portugal Masters.

It was Garcia’s fifth consecutive round of par or better, a stretch that includes rounds of 66-65-67-70-66. That solid play at the Wyndham Championship wasn’t enough to extend his PGA Tour season – he didn’t qualify for the FedExCup playoffs – but the Spaniard is starting to round into form with the Ryder Cup on deck.


Full-field scores from the Portugal Masters


A few weeks ago he was a controversial selection by European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn. After missing the cut in all four majors, Garcia could have been left at home in favor of such players as Rafa Cabrera Bello, Matt Wallace (a three-time winner this season who, once again, is at the top of the leaderboard in Portugal), Matt Fitzpatrick or Thomas Pieters. But Bjorn tabbed Garcia, noting his Ryder Cup experience, his sterling foursomes record and his influence in the team room. If Phil Mickelson is the U.S. player under the most pressure to perform in Paris, all eyes will be on Garcia next week – especially since it could be one of his final opportunities to wear a European uniform, as he’ll be 40 for the 2020 matches.

Garcia’s 66 matched his lowest opening round of the year and puts him in position to secure just his second top-10 since March.

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Watch: 100mph storm destroys tent at St. Andrews

By Grill Room TeamSeptember 20, 2018, 4:25 pm

The Old Course at St. Andrews has endured all sorts of wacky weather over the years, but things ratcheted up a notch this week with the arrival of Storm Ali.

The first named storm of the season struck Wednesday, bringing 100 mph gusts, killing two people and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power in parts of Ireland, Scotland and England.

According to the Courier no one was injured in the St. Andrews area, but a video posted from the home of golf shows just how powerful the storm was as wind absolutely destroyed one of the hospitality tents set up in advance of the Dunhill Links Championship:

While plenty of clean-up is sure to be needed, officials say the Dunhill Links, which also be conducted at Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, will go on as scheduled October 4-7.