ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates –– No one in this week’s $2.7 million Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship comes close to Martin Kaymer’s record around the par-72, 7,583-yard layout. Yet, the German might be the most laid back player in the field this week.
Kaymer is taking the lowest of low-key approaches.
The German has won this tournament three times (2008, ’10 and ’11), finished second once and sixth another time in eight appearances. He is an incredible 87 under in 28 rounds with a stroke average of 68.89.
He arrives every year as one of the favorites to take the title, but he’s doing his best to downplay his chances of winning in his first event of 2015.
“I don’t have big expectations like every other year,” Kaymer admitted. “I’m just approaching it as a neutral tournament because I think if you compare yourself to the way I played in 2008 or 2010 or 2011 when I won, you automatically put some pressure on yourself because I played really well without making any mistakes.
“One year, I only made one bogey in four rounds. It’s very difficult to follow up that success and so I just approach it as a regular event, a regular event that I love to play. There’s definitely a lot of positives, but not too much pressure.”
Kaymer is coming off of a year in which he won The Players Championship and U.S. Open last year, and he is highly anticipating this year’s major-championship lineup.
“The Masters is a very special event,” Kaymer said. “It doesn’t matter if you go there for the first time or the 20th time. I’ve improved every year so it will be good to go again. To be defending champion at the U.S. Open is very special. Then to play the British Open on my favorite golf course, the “Home of Golf,” is very unique. Then the PGA Championship where I won my first major.
“So every major I play this year is something very special and means something to me.”
But before he plays those pressure-packed events, Kaymer hopes to stick to his low-key approach and take some pressure off this week.
“In Abu Dhabi you need to lower your expectation, don’t go over-motivated. I think that’s very important because there is enough pressure already,” Kaymer said. “It’s important to start calm and let things fall into place.”
It’ll be interesting to see if that strategy pays off this week, and this season, for Kaymer.