An Interview With: MARTIN KAYMER
KELLY ELBIN: Martin Kaymer of Europe joining us at the 39th Ryder Cup. This will be Martin's second straight Ryder Cup appearance. He was 2 1 1 in Wales two years ago, 2 0 1 in team matches.
You had an opportunity this afternoon to play with Nicholas Colsaerts, Francesco Molinari and Peter Hanson. Thoughts on playing with them and thoughts on the golf course here at Medinah Country Club.
MARTIN KAYMER: Yeah, I'd say the golf course is set up very American like, very open, fast greens, firm greens already. I was very surprised how fast the greens are already that early in the week.
Yeah, we played a little match, Nicolas and me against Francesco and Peter. It was a fun atmosphere. I think we all get along very well, especially Peter played really well today. He had a little stretch of birdies and eagles on the back nine, so Nicolas and me unfortunately lost on the 17th hole.
But yeah, the golf course looks good. It's very open. You can hit it into the rough if you want to call it rough. It's almost it's only first cut or something, so you can still play from there.
But you still need to place the ball on the right side of the fairway because there are a lot of trees in the way. So there's still some strategy involved.
KELLY ELBIN: Your recent tournament you tied for 5th at the BMW Italian Open. How do you feel about your game coming in?
MARTIN KAYMER: You know, I spent a lot of time on the driving range the last two, three months, and when I came to Holland, Holland was the week before I played in Italy, I didn't play very well. I was not happy the way I hit the ball, and I spent even more time on the range with my coach.
And then the Wednesday before, before the tournament, I still hit it left and a little right, but I just keep doing the things that my coach told me to do, and then all of a sudden on the Friday of Holland, I made a little click in my swing again.
The same thing happens in my swing, the way it was a year and a half or two years ago. So I'm very, very happy that it came along just in time for the Ryder Cup and for the next upcoming events for me. Yeah, it was a big relief.
Q. Davis has said on a number of occasions, and of course as host captain he has great say over the way the course is set up; that he really prefers for Ryder Cup an opportunity to have it fun, fun for the players, fun for the fans, and that making birdies is fun, winning holes with birdies, thus the lack of rough and so forth. Do you agree with that in terms of how you like to see a Ryder Cup contested? And also, do you think that he's accomplished that in that goal here?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, he definitely accomplished that, because it's very playable. It's a lot about putting, because from the tee boxes you can hit it very hard. Even if you miss the fairway you still have a chance to get it on the green, and then it comes down to short game. So I think he definitely accomplished that goal.
If it's good, I think it's definitely going to be fun. It's going to be fun for the spectators; it's going to be fun for us, as well, if we make the putts.
At the end of the day it's about making those mid distance and even some long putts, but the greens are difficult because they are very slopey and there are a lot of ridges on the greens, so you need to know where you can place the ball.
But I think you will definitely see more birdies than in the past because the golf course is set up what he was planning to do for a lot of birdies, even some par 4s that you can reach. So maybe you'll see some eagles.
It's going to be a fun three days of golf, I believe.
Q. Even on a Tuesday, could you sense how different this week is going to be because you're in America, and also, how different do you feel because it's your second appearance?
MARTIN KAYMER: To be honest, it was still fairly quiet out there today. I was expecting a little bit more, a little bit louder, but maybe they were only for the American teams there, because last time I played it was loud and very a lot going on in Europe, so I didn't know anything different.
So that's why I was a little surprised there were not too many there were a few people out there, but I was expecting more.
What was the first question again?
Q. How different do you feel, because it's your second appearance.
MARTIN KAYMER: I think I can enjoy it a lot more because I'm calm and I'm fairly relaxed inside. Two years ago I played really well the weeks and months before, and I was expecting so much from myself. I was expecting to play even better in the Ryder Cup. I was almost tight; I couldn't really loosen up and relax and enjoy the Ryder Cup in Europe.
Now I'm a little bit more calm inside, which means, I think, you can really enjoy certain moments a lot more if you are not focusing on being normal, because in Wales I was just trying too hard. I couldn't achieve my potential, my highest potential.
So I think that is the biggest difference, and it hopefully will show the way I play, as well.
Q. Has the fact that you had to sweat so much on that final qualification added to your motivation, and ahead of playing here, has Bernhard Langer had any words of advice?
MARTIN KAYMER: I haven't talked to Bernhard at all. But definitely when I qualified for the Ryder Cup team, he called me the same night, Sunday night, and asked me if I'm ready, if I'm motivated.
I haven't achieved a lot the last year, the last 10 months. The last win I had was in China, World Golf Championships event, and since then I was not very happy the way I played.
And you were almost a little down; if something like this happens, that you qualify for something that big, it gives you motivation to practice more, that you need to have kind of like a deadline where you have to be ready, and that deadline is Ryder Cup, or was the Ryder Cup for me.
And that's why I hit so many balls and practiced really hard. Sometimes I think it was too much because my hands were really painful at stages. But I just had that deadline where I needed to be ready, and that motivated and inspired me a lot, and I was very glad and very relieved when I played similar the way I did two years ago when I played in Holland and Italy.
Q. José was talking yesterday about the differences between today and 10, 15 years ago when players didn't come over and we didn't cross the pond so much, so to speak, and we weren't familiar with each other's courses, so it really gave a home field advantage. But so much has changed now; many of you and your teammates have homes here, you play over here all the time, are familiar with the types of courses that we set up. Do you think, A, that that neutralizes the home field advantage? And another aspect of that question is, also, the American fans know you guys, they see you play a lot more often, so it's not like those strangers from Europe.
MARTIN KAYMER: No, I must agree with that. I think 10, 15 years ago, I hadn't even played golf at that stage, but I can imagine I would agree with José María that it was different. The Europeans stayed on their side, the Americans stayed on the American side.
But these days, we come more often here, we know what kind of golf courses you guys play. We got used to it a lot.
Obviously the golf course is set up very different. Even some par 4s when they put the tee forward, they set it up, I think, for left handers, as well, for Bubba and Phil, that they can slide it around the trees. To hook it high is a little bit more difficult, and we don't have any lefts in our team.
So you can see there's some advantages, if you want to say so. But the golf course, you know, we play in America all the time, so I don't think it's that much of a deal.
At the end of the day, you just have to play a little bit better than your opponent. I don't think it will make a huge difference because we get used to it for many years now.
Q. You've got Craig back on your bag this week. Can you tell us why you've gone back to him, and does his previous experience of caddying at the Ryder Cup, he's done it plenty of times now, will that be a help to you when you're out there?
MARTIN KAYMER: Yeah, he definitely helped me in 2010, because as I said earlier, I was not really relaxed, and obviously his personality is very relaxed, very open and just very natural, and he makes me smile a lot on the golf course.
It's a very happy feeling to be with him, and obviously he's a very good caddie. I had good success with him in 2010, and those are just reasons that I think they work fairly well for me on the golf course.
Q. First of all, who is the coach you've been working with on your swing?
MARTIN KAYMER: Gunther Kessler, a German guy.
Q. Is it possible to summarize what the problem was, and also what the solution has been, without being too technical?
MARTIN KAYMER: There was never a problem, really. Well, the problem is if you know or if you're leaving a golf course knowing that you not only knowing but believing you can't do well there, even though it's maybe not the right thing to think, but every time I left Augusta, I was very frustrated, not because I had just missed the cut but the way I missed the cut, because I had no idea how it feels to hit a draw.
Obviously I know you have to hit it inside outside with a shut club face, yes, okay, I've read that many times, but I didn't know how it feels.
And I needed to create that feeling. I needed to learn what that feel means or how I can feel to hit a draw. So at that stage I was 25, and I thought I had a lot of years ahead of me, and I don't want to live with that just hitting a fade my entire life and not knowing what could have been if I would have changed. Well, not changed, but just to add that shot.
And that's why it took me a long time. I was not expecting myself I wasn't expecting that it would take a year and a half, almost two years to learn to hit that shot, but now I know how to hit a draw. It took me the last six months actually took me time to get back to my fade.
But it was just the feel of the fade was just somewhere sleeping in me. I just needed to wake it up again. I think now it's awake, and the draw is added to my repertoire, so I'm a more complete player now, so it's still a little shaky, but it just has to come together and I'm ready to go.
I'm very happy the way I play golf now, and it was a very good change that I've done, or addition, and I'm very, very happy that I've done it, even though some people think different because I was No. 1 in the world and won a major, but just give me some time and I hope I can climb up the World Rankings again.
Q. You said at the Italian Open that, first of all, you were hoping to play maybe with Sergio, but it seems your partnership with Nicolas was quite good today. Are there any other ideas about what potentials you might have?
MARTIN KAYMER: To be honest we haven't really talked that much about pairings yet. Obviously you can see the groups we are playing in, but that doesn't really mean anything.
Yes, Nicolas and me, we get along well, I think. He's very long and he's a very good putter and in general a very good short game, so I think a lot of players would like to play with him. But at the end of the day I think we will talk about pairings tonight and tomorrow, and we will play a couple more practice rounds and then the decision will be made.
But until now we haven't talked about it and we haven't made any decisions.
KELLY ELBIN: Martin Kaymer, thank you very much, and best of luck.
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