Kaymer vaults to the top
Goal of 4th Masters appearance is to play weekend
Germany's Bernhard Langer thinks that one day he'll have a fellow countryman sitting beside him at the annual Champions Dinner before the Masters Tournament.
Langer, the only German to win the Masters (1985 and 1993), expects reigning PGA Championship winner Martin Kaymer to win at Augusta National Golf Club one day.
"Oh yeah, definitely," Langer said of Kaymer, who vaulted to the No. 1 spot in the world rankings after he finished second at the WGC-Match Play Championship on Feb. 27.
"He hasn't done very well there for some reason, but he definitely has the game to do well at Augusta," said Langer, the first golfer to be ranked No. 1 when the rankings debuted April 6, 1986.
"I certainly do (expect Kaymer to win the Masters) and I've told him that on a number of occasions," Langer said. "I don't know why he hasn't done better there yet. Hopefully it wasn't the practice rounds with me."
Trevor Immelman, the 2008 Masters champion from South Africa, said he sees "no reason why (Kaymer) wouldn't be able to play well and compete at Augusta National."
First, the 26-year-old has to make the cut in the Masters.
In three starts, Kaymer is 12-over par for the six rounds. He shot 76-72 in 2008, 71-76 in 2009 and 76-73 last year.
"I've never made it to the weekend, so my goal is to play on Saturday and Sunday this year," Kaymer said.
Kaymer's ball flight, which is a fade, doesn't set up for Augusta National's dogleg left holes (Nos. 2, 5, 9, 10, 13 and 14), which require a right-to-left shot off the tee to set up the second shot.
"He's more a slicer, but at Augusta you need to work it the other way, but we'll see," said German Alex Cejka, who played in the Masters in 1996 and 2004. "You never know."
"Probably my biggest disadvantage is that I couldn't hit a draw there," Kaymer said. "Obviously, that makes a big difference. If you fade the ball only, the golf course is even more difficult."
To that end, Kaymer has been working on learning to hit the draw off the tee.
"I can draw the ball," he said. "With the irons it's no problem. I just struggle with the woods a little bit. Obviously, that's important at Augusta. But I'll get there. At one stage, I will hit draws."
He wants to be able to hit draws off the tee not just for Augusta National, but also for other courses.
"I just need to add that golf shot to my options," he said.
Kaymer has done pretty well without that shot. In the past year he's won five times, including late January's Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship by eight shots. He also won the European Tour's Race to Dubai (leading money winner) in 2010.
"Five years ago, I hadn't heard of Martin Kaymer," Langer said. "When I think of that, and how quickly he has come through the ranks, it's unbelievable."
Cejka became aware of Kaymer four years ago at a tournament in Switzerland.
"We played together," Cejka said. "I thought he had the potential to be a really great player that day. Then I played with him in a couple of practice rounds, at the World Cup, and you could tell he was a good damn golfer. Great short game, great imagination, very straight."
The 53-year-old Langer calls Kaymer "the complete package. He reminds me a lot of me, but he's a lot better putter than I was at that age. He hits the ball very far and straight, he's got a good iron game and his short game is getting better and better. But the most important thing is the brain, the head on top of his shoulders. He's got a very old head on young shoulders. He makes very smart decisions."
"I think what he's achieved is quite incredible at such a young age to be the world's No. 1," Immelman said. "It's an absolutely incredible achievement which he thoroughly deserves with his play over the last two or three years."
Vaulting to No. 1 in the world was a "proud moment," Kaymer said. "Not only for me, I think for my family, for the people who helped me and, you know, for Germany, as well. To be the second German, I think it was maybe 1986 or 1987 when Bernhard Langer was No. 1. It was a long time ago. And to be the second is a nice feeling.
"How cool is it that there's no one else in the world who is better in the sport than you?" Kaymer asked.
He placed the ranking above winning the PGA Championship.
"The PGA, it was a tournament, and obviously a big tournament, but to be the No. 1 in the world is so much bigger. It's like a life goal," he said.
Reach David Westin at (706) 823-3224 or firstname.lastname@example.org.