German golfer Martin Kaymer turned 35 in December 2019 and amongst his career achievements so far are two major victories, and reaching world number one for eight weeks.
There have only been 23 male golfers to have been at the top of the world rankings since its inception at the beginning of April 1986, when coincidentally the first player was his countryman, Bernhard Langer.
But Kaymer’s last win of any kind was the US Open at the No. 2 course at Pinehurst in 2014, meaning victories have now become more important for the Dusseldorf-born man, than a return to the summit of the sport.
He now lives in Scottsdale, Arizona and says 2018 Ryder Cup-winning captain Thomas Bjorn is one of his main inspirations and cheerleaders in his career. Kaymer also chats to RSNG about golf in his homeland and being a little disappointed it isn’t more popular…
RSNG You’re a two-time major winner and a former world number in golf. What’s the aim for you for the rest of your career? Another major win or getting back to being the best player in the world rankings? MARTIN KAYMER, PRO GOLFER ‘A major every time. You can win a major and not be number one, and you can be number one and not win a major. But with the way that the rankings work and the fact that many players who haven’t been the number one ranked golfer have won majors recently, I’d rather be where I am and win a major.’
‘It’s far easier to put four consistent days of golf together and win a major event, than it is to climb back to number one in the world. I finished 2019 outside the top 100, but that doesn’t make me want to quit the game.’
‘By taking each week as it comes, targeting those tournaments, which I feel I have a better chance of winning than the others on the calendar, that will enable me to head back up the rankings. If I am good enough and I can take advantage of the times I am playing well and also if other players are not doing so, then I can return to the top.’
RSNG Which player or person in golf have you most got on with or respected most in your career so far? MK ‘I would say that Thomas Bjorn is certainly up there for many different reasons. When he speaks, you tend to agree because he never really says anything off the cuff – there is always a reason, a fact and a wholly-researched meaning to anything that he says.’
‘Thomas is a person who will always be there for you with invigorating words, or happy to explain the meaning behind things, if you are at a down point or anything else where you feel that things could be going better. I will never forget him saying to me that: “You should always remember how good you are.”’
‘Ever since he said that to me at a pro-am in Italy, I have always made sure that no matter how many shots I play that I may not be happy with, I can be confident that the very next shot I do hit is going to be a good one. All because Thomas Bjorn told me to always have faith in myself.’
There are as many people playing golf in Germany as there are in England but the game hasn’t grown in my country as much as I had hoped.
RSNG With all due respect, Germany isn’t a huge hotbed of golfing talent. How do you try to promote that within your homeland to attract more to play? MK ‘When I represented my country in the Olympics, along with Alex Cejka in Brazil in 2016, I would hope that we were both able to promote it a great deal and although I finished the event quite a number of shots off the medals, I enjoyed the experience and I’m glad I went there.’
‘It would have been nice to have brought back a medal for Germany, but it was just great to have been a part of the world’s biggest and greatest sporting event. Not everybody is aware what events we play in golf, maybe apart from the majors, but the Olympics is famous the world over.’
‘It brings together every sporting nation and some people who don’t even like, watch or participate in sport, will switch on or even attend the Olympics. So, that would have attracted attention in Germany.’
‘Has it had an effect? Well, figures that were released a couple of years ago showed that there are as many golfers in Germany as there are in England. But the game hasn’t grown in my country as much as I had hoped.’
Golf is the most beautiful sport – you can look like the best on the course in one moment, then in the next it can make an absolute fool out of you!
RSNG You’re one of the few top players who actually loves playing in the pro-am events, don’t you? MK ‘Yeah, I genuinely do really like those tournaments because they are really fun, and I enjoy playing in partnerships and groups with people who are not only quite good, but can be very funny, as well.’
‘The whole point is to try to sharpen up your game on a good course and it does help you for the rest of the season, in an environment which is designed to be less competitive than the tour events.’
‘But when you’re a person who is used to competing every week, you don’t just lose that overnight and it’s not something that you can just switch off, haha! Also, if the very best players aren’t attending, that also makes it a bit easier for me to win.’
RSNG You seem to be a level-headed golfer who isn’t affected by some of the bravado and showmanship you sometimes see on the course? MK ‘I would never take that sort of risk – you might say I am very German in that approach. Golf is the most beautiful sport – you can look like the very best on the course in one moment, then in the next it can make an absolute fool out of you!’
‘I think every golfer needs to remember that because it is very easy to stray from one to the other.’
‘That is why I like to play the game now with a good level of humility – I don’t want to be made to look stupid!’
WHAT NEXT? Find out why Aussie golfer Marc Leishman has built a putting green in his garden, in our exclusive interview here.
Then, watch Martin Kaymer’s prank golf shots.