JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – The Wanamaker Trophy is back in the hands of the PGA of America as Martin Kaymer prepares to try to win it back this week at Atlanta Athletic Club. He reflected on the impact on his life since the win on the Wisconsin coast on Wednesday.
“To be a major winner, I think that gives you so much confidence and so much self-belief that you have done a lot of things right in the past,” he said. “And to win a major that early in my career was obviously fantastic, that you kind of like break through a little bit of a barrier.”
Surviving the American gauntlet of Dustin Johnson and Bubba Watson, Kaymer reaped some benefits this year when he arrived in Atlanta.
Kaymer joked, “I tell you, the nicest thing about being the defending champion this week is my parking is right next to the clubhouse. When I arrived here on Monday, it was quite convenient.”
It’s been a roller coaster year for the German since taking his first major title in a playoff at Whistling Straits. He won twice more in 2010 and became the world No. 1 despite a final-round loss at the Accenture Match Play in February. Then he decided to embark on some swing changes with his coach, looking to work on his backswing with the hopes of promoting an Augusta National-friendly draw. So far, that change has been a work in progress and thwarted Kaymer from another 2011 win after his annual thumping of the field in Abu Dhabi.
Just because he is going through a swing change, though, doesn’t mean Kaymer has recused himself from a successful defense.
“[I]t’s not a complete change of my swing, but just a little thing that will take me a little bit longer than I thought. I’m not worried about it at all, but I still play OK golf. I can still play a lot better, and once it all comes together, I think I can play even better than before, even better than when I became No. 1 in the world,” he said.
That sounds an awful lot like another former world No. 1, no? But to pick up his second major at the PGA Championship just like he-who-won’t-be-named, Kaymer says he will have to beat back the biggest army in the Big Four.
“I think it’s the major with the most participants in the majors, so it’s tough to win this one,” he said.
No matter how his defense turns out, Kaymer says he is now accustomed to his new place in golf’s rare air and is breathing it just fine.
“It’s just a thing that you need to get used to. And at the beginning, it is a lot it take in and a lot to handle. But after awhile, if you talk to people who has been in that situation before, to other celebrities or to other athletes, I think then it’s a little bit easier to act in the right way,” he said.
“It’s just a new role.”