Q&A: 2010 PGA champ Martin Kaymer
Martin Kaymer’s life changed when he won last year’s PGA Championship at Whistling Straits. You could join Kaymer as he returns to the links along Lake Michigan, thanks to a contest with BMW. The World No. 4 talked with Golfweek recently about his memories from Whistling Straits, as well as the state of his game as the British Open nears. Go to the bottom of the story to find out how you can enter to win a spot in the foursome with Kaymer:
What excites you about the contest?
It will be fantastic to go back (to Whistling Straits) and play the golf course again. We’re going to play the Ryder Cup there in a few years. To go back somewhere where you did something as historic as winning the PGA, it’s always special. It will be an amazing experience for the person I will play with. He or she will probably ask me a lot of questions about how I felt in certain situations. They’ll probably tell me their experience, how they felt after seeing certain shots from the PGA. It will be an interesting round for both of us. And it will definitely be a great day for BMW.
What shots at Whistling Straits are you most looking forward to hitting again?
There are three shots from the PGA that I will always keep in my mind – the 5-iron on No. 17 in the playoff, the third shot to the green on 18 in the playoff and the putt on the 72nd hole of regulation. I definitely want to make the putt again on 18. (Kaymer holed a 15-foot par putt on the final hole of regulation to get into the playoff with Bubba Watson.)
Your 5-iron to 15 feet on the par-3 17th set up birdie to tie Bubba Watson with one hole remaining in the three-hole playoff. What were you thinking on the 17th tee?
I was very calm in the playoff. I was a little bit nervous on the last five or six holes in the regular round, but in the playoff, I don’t know why, I was calmer than on my regular round. I knew what I had to do. In a three-hole playoff, knowing that Bubba could reach the 10th hole, I knew I had to do something on 17 or 18.
There is another major approaching. How do you feel about the state of your game?
Every week I’ve played since the U.S. Open, I’ve played a little bit better. I didn’t feel great about my game at the U.S. Open. Munich was a lot better. And last week, I probably beat myself in the end. I should have won that golf tournament in France. I made a couple mistakes down the stretch. In general, I feel very good about my game. I will see my coach on the weekend, and we will get ready for the British Open. It’s my favorite tournament we have all year. It’s the only major we have in Europe. It’s my hope to win it one day.
The British Open is different than the other majors because of the conditions and courses. What does it take to win the Open?
You need some luck sometimes at the British Open because of the conditions. You have to hit a lot of different shots, the bump-and-runs, the little shots under the wind. You never know what kind of weather you’ll get. I enjoy those things. It’s a great battle. You need to grind it out. I enjoy that challenge.
What are you doing to prepare for the British Open?
I will see my coach Friday and Saturday, and then Sunday I will arrive early at Royal St. George’s. I’ll probably hit balls Sunday, then get ready for the tournament. I’ve never been to St. George’s.
You’ve played the Scottish Open the past few years. Why did you pass this year?
The problem was, in the past three years, I played five tournaments in a row with two majors and the tournament in Munich, which is always a big one for me. I didn’t play the Scottish Open because I didn’t want to rush myself from tournament to tournament. I thought I’d rather take the week off and relax and get some good practice in with my coach. I’ll go to the British Open a day earlier than usual.
Any shots that you feel like will suit you well at the Open?
I’m very comfortable hitting those “stinger” 2-irons from the tee, hitting low shots and being creative around the greens. You can use the putter when you’re far away from the greens. You can have some 50-yard putts. I enjoy those things, to be able to be more creative. I played in a lot of bad conditions growing up in Germany.
Talk about your swing changes. When did you decide to do that? What were you trying to accomplish?
I talked to my coach about in February or March. Even though I became No. 1 in the world, we saw some room for improvement. We saw that I could be a more complete player, even better, without having a big risk of losing my swing. It definitely was worth it to do. And now I can feel like slowly everything will come together. I am playing better golf already. It’s just a matter of patience.
What are you trying to improve? What are you trying to add to your game?
In the past, I was only able to hit straight golf shots, and maybe a cut, but I struggled with a draw. I feel so much more comfortable now.
How would you compare yourself now to the PGA?
I’m definitely more experienced. I have belief in myself now that I can win any golf tournament that I enter, even the majors. I didn’t really have that before. If you can win a major, you can win any (tournament).
How has life changed since you won the PGA?
I definitely have less time for family and friends than before. Being No. 1 changed a lot of things, but it has never really been work. So far, it’s been nice because everything has been organized well so that I can focus on golf, which is the main part. I would like to make golf more popular in Germany. I’m trying to be a role model for the people, for the children. And hopefully I can achieve that.
Was it difficult being No. 1?
In the beginning, it was difficult. There was so much involved – so much media, so many things I was invited to. I forgot to practice a little because I was worn out. But now I know what’s going on. I know how to react. I enjoy the challenge, that everyone is chasing me. That is the ultimate. That is what you’re practicing for, to be successful and be in that position to be under pressure, and succeed under pressure.
How would you describe this season?
Obviously last year was a special year. I won four golf tournaments, we won the Ryder Cup and I became the No. 1 in Europe. A lot was happening. I was playing really, really good golf. It’s difficult to follow a season like that. I’m still playing good golf. I just haven’t won as much as last year. The year isn’t over. I feel very comfortable about my game, about the plan that I have.
Have you been to Atlanta Athletic Club?
I had a media day five or six weeks ago in Atlanta. I played the golf course with the guys from the PGA of America. It’s a very, very long golf course and very tight. We’ll see how the rough will be, but I struggle to see double digits (under par) winning it. Five or 6 under will be difficult to get to. It will be a tough defense, but it’s possible. I look forward to it.
BMW and Golfweek are partnering to bring a Golfweek reader the chance to play in a foursome with one of the world's top-ranked players from Aug. 13-16, 2011 in Kohler, Wis. You will receive round-trip, business-class airfare to Chicago, where you will play Cog Hill. You will then be driven to Whistling Straits to have either breakfast or dinner with Kaymer, followed by a round with the German superstar.
The package also includes three nights' standard hotel accommodations, ground transportation to and from the airport and all meals during the trip. The package is worth nearly $4,500.
Entering is quite simple: Follow this link and enter Golfweek's promotional code: GWMK150811
It is critical to copy and paste the promotional code, as that is how you will be entered to win against other Golfweek readers.
Also, as a bonus, we have received four pieces of signed Martin Kaymer memorabilia, including a TaylorMade driver, from BMW and will be hosting a daily trivia contest on Facebook.