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July 15, 2014

Martin Kaymer


MIKE WOODCOCK: We're delighted to welcome Martin Kaymer, the U.S. Open champion into the interview room. Martin, you had a wonderful victory at Pinehurst there. How much of a platform do you think that gives you going into this week, the next Major championship here at the Open?

MARTIN KAYMER: To be honest, I don't think it makes a huge difference, at least not for me. The British Open is a very, very special tournament. You have to play it in a completely different way than you play usually the U.S. Open. But obviously the motivation is very high to keep going. It's very easy when you win one or two big tournaments to just stop and be happy with that season. But that was my attitude after THE PLAYERS, as well. I knew I was playing good golf. And I thought we'll see how much I can pick up this year. If I can have another big win and maybe two and win maybe Ranking here or there. So to play The Open was probably the Major that I always wanted to win in my career. I was not really planning on winning the PGA or the U.S. Open. Because for us being a European, it would be quite nice to have such big success on your own continent.

Q. Let's forget about golf, let's talk football.
MARTIN KAYMER: Yes, do it.

Q. What does it mean to you? I know you met up with the squad before they went out there. Terrific for Germany.
MARTIN KAYMER: Yeah, I watched it here on Sunday night with Craig, with my caddie. We were staying in a house and -- you know, to be honest, it was probably the first moment in my career as an athlete where I was very, very proud to be a German athlete. Not because of my own success. The win is one thing, that they won the World Cup, but I think the way they played football, the way they carried themselves, very grounded people, even after the win against Brazil, which was very unusual, that score, but they kept going and they had so much belief. They played very brave. The planning was good. The people behind them. And then you see a whole country changing. It reminded me a little bit of when the World Cup was in Germany in 2006, it was so nice to see what can sport do to you. Even we Germans, we laughed a lot (laughter). And we had jokes. So just the way they played and the way they were acting after all those wins. And they didn't have only one star on the team. They have like six, seven, eight stars or people made them to six, seven stars. But at the end of the day there were probably 15 or 16 great players. And they all kept it very well together and they fighted for one team. So all the values that we live for in Germany, they played football that way. So it's a great inspiration for me as an athlete and I hope for a lot of the people in Germany.

Q. When the goal went in, was Craig celebrating with you? A Scot but I thought he would be rooting for your team.
MARTIN KAYMER: He was on our side, yeah. We were both very, very happy. I would have thought that it doesn't go into overtime -- but at the end of the day it was a great, great way to win. Argentina they played good, they defended very well. So they made it tough for Germany, and you could see that there were some similarities to golf, as well. They played very patient. They were waiting. And the other games before already. It was a very patient success. And so it was very nice, very interesting to see how they played. It was very smart. They didn't try to force anything because they know they were good enough. It was just about delivering what they can do. It's nothing about making anything special happen. So they just delivered what they can do. And they did it in a very, very nice way.

Q. Do you have any particular player in the team Germany that you're close with, you're friends with?

Q. Can you tell us who and why you guys are close?
MARTIN KAYMER: Everybody knows that a few of the guys that they play football -- sorry, they play golf. So once in a while when I'm in Munich -- most of the players I know they're from Munich, and they play obviously for the national team. So when I'm there we play once in a while. We compare our sports. I think we can learn from each other a lot about how to treat certain situations in the media, the expectations in Germany or worldwide. So I always learn a lot. And fitness-wise we help each other, or at least they help me. Hopefully I can help them, as well, a little bit. But I mean I don't want to name any players now. But I'm very happy that I have that possibility to speak to one of the best athletes that we have in Germany.

Q. Have you had any communications with the German players since the World Cup or during it? Can you share what some of these messages may have been?
MARTIN KAYMER: Yeah, some of the players send me some videos, how they were putting in the room. When they were playing golf on the golf course, which was next door. Some chipping on the beach. And it was after I won the U.S. Open, which was very nice, Thomas Müller, he had an interview, and it was one of the first things that he said, "It was a very nice way to start the World Cup, because Martin Kaymer, he won the U.S. Open." And then he said a few other things. So he pointed it out, so it was very nice to see that we are all trying to work it out that golf becomes more important and bigger in Germany. So it's a good relationship because it's very natural. It's not fake. It's not forced. So the interest from the players, or from the national team, there's enough interest in golf. And obviously for me as a German and playing football for many years, there's interest on that side. So it's quite nice to work together.

Q. Following up on that, was there one aspect of the German soccer performance, football, sorry, that you can take with you in the golf tournament coming up?
MARTIN KAYMER: Yeah: Patience. What I said earlier that they haven't done anything special. They were a good, brave, strong team. And they just delivered. And there was nothing about any secrets, just play your game, use the opportunities that you get. Don't make any silly mistakes and wait. That's all you can do. Every team had a bad day here and there. Germany, they didn't play great against I think it was America. They didn't play great. But they still got away with it. And that's the same on the golf tournament. You have a day where you don't play that super good, but you hang in there and you play something around par that doesn't get you out of the tournament. Then you wait for that amazing day, that they had against Brazil, and that you need during the golf tournament to win it. So at the U.S. Open I had two of those, the first two days, it was fairly lucky. At The PLAYERS I had the first day where I shot 9-under par. That was that special day that they had against Brazil.

Q. This is a follow-up tying right into that, can you describe when you have those very special days, looking back on it what it is that makes it so special and how it feels? And is there anything you can do to bring that about again?
MARTIN KAYMER: That's the big question that everybody has. How can we get to that point every single day? I haven't found the answer to that yet. It feels very -- everything feels so natural. And that's the thing, you are very free. But you feel it. The first three or four holes when you play, you kind of like put the day into a category. This is one of those days or this is one of that days. And then you try to find a way to get it to that great day, but it's very difficult to get there. So, again, you can't force it to make it to a great day otherwise you will make a couple of big numbers or make bogeys and then you're out of it. So again, it's a game that you have to play with yourself. And that's why golf is so interesting, that you don't really know what the day will bring you. And that's why I said at the U.S. Open many times, that you approach a day, every day is a new day. You don't know how your body feels. You don't know how you will react to certain situations. And that makes it so interesting and very challenging.

Q. What was the reaction to your U.S. Open victory in Germany? What sort of response did you receive from the German people? How popular a sport is golf in Germany?
MARTIN KAYMER: It wasn't unlucky that I won the day before the World Cup started. So the media, they were full of the German national team. What Thomas Müller did was very helpful and was very nice, a nice gesture, even though he just said it because he wanted to say it. Not because he wanted to make me feel good or wanted to bring golf closer to the Germans. He just said it because he likes golf. So there was definitely more response. And I noticed a lot that now every time I leave my house people recognize me. So it wasn't like this before the U.S. Open. So it's getting more. But I did a press conference before the BMW International Open in Cologne that in order to make golf bigger in Germany, the media in Germany has to work together and not against each other. We all need to have one goal and not have, for example, 10 or 12 golf magazines who write about the same thing or they compete against each other. For example, handball is a sport they recognized that they can never compete with football in Germany. So they work together. They have only one or two magazines, but they work together to make it on a lower level big. So that is what I hope, and that's my wish, that we all work together and not against each other.

Q. You're now a two-time Major champion. From the point where you won the PGA at Whistling Straits to Pinehurst, in that gap, was there maybe external or more importantly internal pressure for you to win the second one, to maybe validate the first Major championship?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, for yourself there's hope. There's hope and there's belief that you will make it, hopefully one day, or at least that you have the possibility. It's about getting the possibility. And at the end of the day to have success, you need to be prepared and you need the chance. I know that I will be prepared. I just need to get that chance. And that's the thing, how do you get there? So that's a very long road. But if you have those two, let's say, components, preparation and chance, it's all up to yourself, if you're brave enough to take it and to make it happen. So I never doubt that, that I will make it happen. There were a lot of things that I've done in my career that went fairly well. So I just needed those two things. And I never doubted because I knew I did the right thing long-term. I was not thinking, okay, I need to win another Major within the next four years to prove to myself that it was not an accident. So I was more planning long-term. So with myself I was fine. From the outside there was a lot more pressure and a lot of people didn't think I was doing the right thing. But you can't think like this, as an individual athlete. And that's why it would be quite interesting to talk with some of the players from the German national team, how they felt individually with the expectations from Germany. Because anything else than getting to the final would have been a disappointment. That is the opinion in Germany. You enter the World Cup with that on your shoulders. So that's difficult. So all those things they played a big role. But the external thing, you need to find a way to deal with it. And fortunately somehow I could deal with it and made it happen to win in Pinehurst.

Q. Could you define the German character, please? And could you tell me whether you think you are typical of that character? What are your personal strengths and characteristics?
MARTIN KAYMER: Boy, it's tough for me to say, because I have to give myself a lot of compliments (laughter). No, because, you know, it makes me very, very proud to be German and very proud what we have achieved, what the country gave me in order to have that success here, to be that person, to be that disciplined, respectful -- I'm not talking only about being respectful towards people, being respectful towards the sport that we play. And you have to respect yourself for the effort that you put into all that work. So the values that, yeah, Germany, and especially my parents, taught me, you know, I hope that I can pass them on to my children one day. It will be a very, very big challenge. But all those things. It's tough to put into one or two sentences. But I just think the values that we learn in our country, they help me a lot on the golf course.

Q. Could you even say what they are?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, I mean, we all know that we are very much on time always. It's a very good quality of work. When you ask us -- I just talk about the majority, now. Obviously we have a few that are lazy, like any other country. We all have that. But when you tell us to do something, we get it done, but we not only get it done, we get it done to last for a long time. If you build a house in Germany, it lasts 1,800 years. It's not going to fly away when there's a storm. It's proper, like the foundations, everything is good quality. You see the cars that we build. It's just -- I'm making an advertisement for my country, but it's just the quality of work. It's permanent. It lasts. And that is how you want to do certain things on the golf course, as well. I changed my swing because it lasts long-term. And the pressure, if there's no pressure, I play with my friends, I can rely on it, always. I think the athletes that we have in Germany, if you see Dirk Nowitzki playing in America for so long, such a disciplined person, and he has a will, he wanted it really bad. I read the book, and so he wanted to prove to his friends, to the people in Germany that he can do it. To get with, I don't know, I think he got 800 or $1,000 in his pocket when he went there, in the late '90s. So now he achieved everything he could in his sport. At the end of the day it's just the discipline and the will that you have. But there are a lot of players out here, as well. If you see a lot of the Asian guys, they are like this, too, very disciplined, very respectful people. And they don't talk much. They just make things happen. I like that because at the end of the day it's not about talking and always hoping and believing, it's about the delivering. So and I think that is what a lot of Germans do, as well, is just -- you can rely on us.

Q. Going back to The Open, the last -- you have had six starts over here, and just one top 10 finish. Are you a little surprised by the results that you have at the Open Championship? And considering that you've had such a great season so far, are you doing anything differently this year getting into The Open? Have you done something differently?
MARTIN KAYMER: I mean to the first question, I just really enjoy playing this kind of golf. There's never really a standard golf shot. There's always something you have to put in consideration. You need to really play a game. It's not about 155, 8-iron. You have 165, 6-iron. It's never like this. You have to think so much. You have to be creative. You have to play with the slopes, with the weather, with the wind, everything. So I really enjoy that. And it's never a putting competition. So what I said in Pinehurst already, I enjoy playing difficult golf courses because then it comes down a lot to your mental, you know, that you can't chase too much. And I think the British Open is every year like this. It's a fight. It's a battle. At one stage you hit bad weather and you have to fight through it. You can be mad about it, which is nice, because a lot of players get mad about it, so you win already against them. So 30 percent of the field is out. I enjoy playing that kind of golf. And probably that's why I've been fairly successful. I mean, I haven't been very successful at the Open yet but I've been always -- I think I always made the cut, at least.

Q. Are you doing anything differently this year, coming into The Open?
MARTIN KAYMER: I talked about it many times before, especially after all the press conferences at The PLAYERS and the U.S. Open, that I just play the game now. I didn't think too much about technical things anymore. Obviously every player thinks about two or three things before they play a round of golf, before they practice. But for me it's just about trust your skill and trust what you worked on for many, many years and really believe in the shots that you can hit. And then you have to do it. And hopefully it works out.

Q. On that, are you using a 2-iron this week? Do you normally use a 2-iron?
MARTIN KAYMER: Depending on the golf course I have a 2-iron always with me, 2-iron or a rescue. So I used it in France, for example, the 2-iron because it plays usually very fast and very firm. So this week is one of those weeks where a rescue, I don't really see it. 2-iron, 1-iron -- like last year I played with Jason Day and he carried a 1-iron with him. These days it's just what you have to do.

Q. Do you have an 1-iron?
MARTIN KAYMER: I don't have a 1-iron. I can only take 14 clubs. Otherwise the 1-iron might be in the bag.

Q. Do you mind if I might ask a question in English for you to answer in German, would that be okay?
MARTIN KAYMER: We'll see what the response will be (laughter).

Q. In what ways is Germany's World Cup success can inspire you to do well at the Open this week?
MARTIN KAYMER: Take too much time, probably. (Speaking in German.)

Q. Can you sum it up in just one sentence?
MARTIN KAYMER: It's been good. I'm very happy for the whole team. It's been so nice. I know how it is when you have all those expectations on your shoulders and you deliver. So it's difficult. And I don't know if you're not an athlete I don't know if you can relate to it. It's very tough. So it makes you very proud when you succeed.

MIKE WOODCOCK: Martin, thanks very much for your time. And best of luck this week.
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