It’s not often Ryder Cup rookies are asked to play in every session of the biennial match, but Germany’s Martin Kaymer may be called up on to do just that when he makes his debut for Europe at Celtic Manor, Wales.
The 25-year-old German will head to his first Ryder Cup as arguably Europe’s strongest player after a four-stroke victory Sunday in the KLM Open in Hilversum, Netherlands. The win comes less than a month since he picked up his first major trophy with victory in the PGA Championship.
Winning his first major took him to the top of the European money list. This latest victory further affirms his status as the best player in European golf. He moved nearly 500,000 euros clear of Graeme McDowell – Europe’s other 2010 major champion – at the top of the European Order of Merit.
European Ryder Cup captain Colin Montgomerie must be all smiles. Kaymer’s victory was the fifth in a row by one of Monty’s Ryder Cup players.
Kaymer began the incredible run by winning the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. Peter Hanson won the Czech Open a week later, Edoardo Molinari took the Johnnie Walker Championship and Miguel Angel Jimenez won last week’s Omega European Masters.
“I think I am ready to win again,” Kaymer said before the tournament, his first event since winning the PGA Championship.
“I felt very strong and was very patient,’’ he said after a final-round 66 left him at 14-under 266 at Hilversumsche Golf Club. “The majors are the biggest tournaments we play all year, and if you win one of those, it gives you probably the biggest confidence you can get.
“It was my goal to play well here, but I was not expecting to win again. It’s a nice feeling.’’
Kaymer now takes time off to prepare for his Ryder Cup debut. He says his preferred partners in Wales are Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald. He and Donald look like a deadly combination for the European side. However, any member of the European team would love to play with the young German phenomenon.
The KLM Open was Kaymer’s sixth European Tour win in the past three years. German golf fans have been searching for an heir to Bernhard Langer for years. They’ve found one in the shape of the young man from Düsseldorf.
Kaymer has flown somewhat under the radar in recent years. He hasn’t had nearly the same press coverage as McIlroy. The German suffers somewhat from the parochial nature of the European Tour press corps. Langer may have won two Masters titles (1985, 1993), but there are no German golf writers following the tour on a full-time basis the way British and Irish golf writers do. Consequently, more column inches have been written about McIlroy.
That dynamic might be the same at this year’s Ryder Cup. McIlroy also makes his Ryder Cup debut this year and should see a lot of action. However, McIlroy is more mercurial than the consistent German.
Kaymer might just turn out to be the backbone of this European team – and many more to come.