17 Things You Need to Know About Martin Kaymer
June 15, 2014
He had a steady rise in the German amateur ranksKaymer came from a golf family but he wasn't a diaper-clad prodigy. After taking up the game in earnest at age 10, he soon started competing in regional events in Germany and, eventually, around Europe, winning the 2003 Austrian Amateur and the 2004 German Amateur. He was also a member of the Germany team that finished 10th at the 2004 World Amateur Team Championship in Puerto Rico, before deciding to turn pro in 2005. -- Ryan Herrington
His father wouldn't let him use a tee.Kaymer's father, Horst, was cut from the Earl Woods cloth, not only teaching his two boys golf, but going to extreme measures to prepare them for the rigors of tournament play. At their home course, Mettmann Golf Club in Dusseldorf, Horst forced his boys to play from the tips even at a young age, and even forbade them from hitting off a tee. "He wanted to make it more challenging for us, so when we were allowed to use tees in tournaments, hitting the driver would seem easy," Martin told Sports Illustrated's Alan Shipnuck in 2010. If Kaymer's driving at Pinehurst was any indication, Horst was on to something. -- Sam Weinman
Bernard Langer is his idol (and now his mentor).When Kaymer was growing up, Bernand Langer represented everything he wanted to be. Langer was one of the few professional German golfers, a Ryder Cupper, and a multiple major champion. He's has since become a mentor for Kaymer, talking with him the day before Kaymer holed the winning putt at Medinah in 2012 and then again before his final round at the 2014 U.S. Open. -- Luke Kerr-Dineen
He has shot a 59 in competition.Kaymer dominated both the European Player Development Tour and the Challenge Tour in 2006. During one EPD Tour event, the Habsburg Classic, Kaymer shot a second-round 59 despite bogeying his second hole of the day. He'd go on to win -- one of his five victories in 14 EPD Tour starts -- before winning twice more in eight starts on the Challenge Tour. That earned Kaymer his European Tour card for 2007, the year he also became the first German to claim the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award. -- Alex Myers
He made a 15-footer at Whistling Straits to get into a playoff.While we might remember the 2010 PGA Championship as the tournament where Dustin Johnson unknowingly grounded his club in a bunker on the final hole, we might not remember how Kaymer grinded his way into a playoff with Bubba Watson. After a bogey on the par-4 15th, Kaymer parred in the rest of the way, including a difficult 15-footer on the 72nd hole. In the three-hole aggregate playoff, he made another 15-footer for birdie on the difficult par-3 17th hole, then captured his first major when Watson double bogeyed the last. At the time, the win was almost a side note to both Johnson and Watson's missteps. In the wake of Pinehurst, it has taken on greater meaning. -- S.W.
He once turned down a PGA Tour card.Following his breakthrough win on American soil at the 2010 PGA Championship, Kaymer was offered a PGA Tour membership for the 2011 season, but he turned it down to concentrate on his European Tour schedule. Kaymer didn't officially join the PGA Tour until the 2013 season, when he played in 16 events in the U.S. Previously, he had never played in more than nine. Kaymer is still a member of the European Tour, but with a residence in Scottsdale, he now plays a majority of his events in America. -- A.M.
He was the second-youngest player ever to become world number one.If he wasn't already, Kaymer became a known commodity in the golf world at 25 with his win at the 2010 PGA Championship. Shortly after turning 26, he boasted a different title: Best Player In The World. Kaymer ascended to the top of the Official World Golf Ranking with his runner-up in the WGC-Match Play. At the time, only Tiger Woods had gotten to that spot faster, although Rory McIlroy has since accomplished the feat. Kaymer's (first?) reign at the top lasted eight weeks. -- A.M.
He tried to move to a draw from a fade, which led to a big slump."I was number one in the world and I wasn't able to hit a draw," Kaymer said of his game before his slump in 2012. "That was something I was quite upset about." Kaymer felt his inability to work the ball from right to left would hinder his success down the road -- especially at the Masters -- so he embarked on a change. It came at a price -- at one point, he fell to 63rd in the world rankings -- but now Kaymer says he's comfortable hitting both shots whenever he needs to, and that he doesn't regret his decision. -- L.K.D.
He heard what his critics said about the slump.Whether they're being honest or not, many tour players insist they're able to steel themselves off from the media chatter around them. Not Kaymer. In the heart of his struggles, he said he paid attention to his critics, including the sentiment that his PGA win and subsequent rise to No. 1 were aberrations. "It's just that you read over and over again in newspapers, on Facebook, on all those golf websites that is he ever going to come back? Is he a one-hit wonder with a major win?" Kaymer said following his opening 65 at Pinehurst. "You know, those things, it's not nice to read. I knew deep inside that I never really doubted anything of what I'm doing. So it was understandable for me. But at the same time it was quite funny, because I knew that it's just crap." -- S.W.
He uses a tennis ball to stay in rhythm.Before going to the course, Kaymer always makes a few swings with a tennis ball necklace. The necklace part is just for convenience, but the tennis ball is essential: by wedging it between his forearms and not allowing it to fall out as he swings, Kaymer is forcing his arms to never move independently from his torso. Making sure those big muscles control his swing is one of the reasons he's such a good ball striker under pressure. -- L.K.D.
He's sort of an average Joe.Upon winning the Players last month, Kaymer could have treated himself to a private-plane ride home (he did just win $1.8 million, after all). Instead, he joined the general public waiting in line to get through TSA at the Jacksonville airport, then grabbed some floor near his departure gate to charge his phone near a wall socket and check his . . . bank account? -- R.H.
He carried two 3-irons in his bag at Pinehurst.Yep, two 3-irons, although they were hardly identical. Kaymer had one of them bent to the loft of a 2-iron and fitted with a longer shaft. He used that club for tee shots on several of Pinehurst's shorter par 4s to try to keep his ball in play and avoid the sandy, scrubby native areas. It seemed to help as Kaymer hit 43 of 56 fairways for the week, ranking him T-9. -- R.H.
His brother is almost as good as he is.Philip Kaymer, two years Martin's senior, was himself a good junior golfer. Their parents forbade them from playing the same events, wanting them to encourage each other rather than compete. But the boys fondly remember secretly entering one tournament where they faced off in the final, Philip winning on the final hole. When Martin entered first stage of European Tour Q school in 2005, Philip joined him to lend his support. Martin finished first and Philip finished last, then headed to law school. -- R.H.
He's a Ryder Cup hero.When Kaymer was the final automatic qualifier for Europe at the 2012 Ryder Cup, he was in the midst of a terrible slump and was largely viewed as the team's weak link. Euro captain Jose Maria Olazabal kept Kaymer on the bench for most of the first two days, but there was nowhere to hide him on Sunday. Kaymer responded. The entire Ryder Cup came down to his match against Steve Stricker and on Medinah's 18th green, he made a clutch five-foot par putt for a 1-up win to help complete Europe's incredible comeback and begin a personal one of his own. -- A.M.
His arms look glorious in the sun.If there was a German version of "Baywatch," Kaymer's arms would have featured prominently. They seem to oil-up naturally in the sunlight, and Kaymer wears short sleeves to let them shine in all their glory. It all results in a lot of his female admirers getting slightly weak at the knees. -- L.K.D.
He keeps an official handicap.As a member of the tour player haven Whisper Rock Golf Club in Scottsdale, Ariz., Kaymer's tournament scores are entered into the GHIN system by the club golf staff. His number? A healthy +5.9 following his back-to-back 65s at Pinehurst. That includes his rounds of 63, 69, 72 and 71 at TPC Sawgrass during the Players. Not bad, and yet even more remarkable is that Kaymer's index has at one point been a full stroke lower. In other words, he's not getting a lot of shots from his competition. -- S.W.
He has a sunflower on his bag to honor his mother's death.Kaymer still gets openly emotional when he talks about his mother, and just weeks before her death from cancer in 2008, dedicated his win in Abu Dhabi to her. Six years later Kaymer still refuses to carry any sponsor's name on the front of his bag, opting instead for a stitching of a sunflower -- his late mother's favorite flower. -- L.K.D.