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January 19, 2016

Martin Kaymer

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

STEVE TODD: Many thanks for joining us and a warm welcome back to Abu Dhabi, and happy new year to you.


STEVE TODD: Your 10th appearance in this tournament, a bit of a landmark there for you, obviously won three times, including your first European Tour victory. How special is it to start the year in this tournament?

MARTIN KAYMER: It's very special because it was my first tournament ever that I won on The European Tour. What every child, what every teenager when they try to turn pro, that is what they dream of and that was the place where I could celebrate and fulfill that dream.

So that's why if you take the other two wins out of it, it will be always a very special place for me, because I think everybody can remember their first ones. Luckily for me it happened in one of greatest places that we go and one of the best golf courses in my opinion that we play.

So if you take all that in consideration, I think I got very lucky that I won here.

STEVE TODD: Ten years is quite a long time in a guy's career. How much has your routine changed, if it has at all, in terms of coming into the first tournament of a season? You're a guy who learns a lot from what happened.

MARTIN KAYMER: Last year, that was the only year where I didn't practise much in the wintertime. I didn't go to America. I was home, went skiing a lot, spent a lot of time in Germany, and I only went to Dubai a week before that event. So that was the only change that I did, the only change in a year was that year.

All the other years eight years before, I always went to America for the winter, did four or five weeks of practise. This year I did the same thing than the other eight years, so hopefully I will be a little bit more consistent on the back nine this year than last year. (Laughter).

Q. After what happened here last year, you went to Dubai and spoke very positively about what you were going to learn from the experience. Do you think subconsciously there was an effect on your season, maybe a little bit?
MARTIN KAYMER: Not so much on the season, I don't think so. I spoke about positively about it; you have the choice if you talk negatively or positive, and I chose the other way, and it was positive. You need to ask yourself right questions. That is what's very important. You need to be very honest with yourself and find out a solution why that happened and find answers, and I certainly did.

Of course, you know, once in a while, you do think about it. It's just human and very normal. And I'm sure it might happen this week, as well. When I played the back nine today, Craig and we, talked a few things that happened year, and it's okay for me to talk about it because it's an experience and part of what happened for me here in Abu Dhabi.

But at the end of the day, I try to really -- I don't want that this overshadows my whole success and the great experience and one of the best emotions I had on the golf course. I don't want that.

It was only two hours; I had 50,55 other great hours here before on the golf course, so I'd rather focus on that.

Q. In 2012, 2014, we always see during The Ryder Cup year, you just tend to play much better and get yourself into the team. This again is a Ryder Cup year, so how much is that a motivation, and how are you looking forward to this 2016 season?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, The Ryder Cup years, somehow subconsciously, you do a little bit more. When it comes down to me, I practise a tiny bit more. I have a little bit more focus on important tournaments who give me Ryder Cup points.

So you do think about The Ryder Cup a little bit, but it shouldn't affect it, but it does affect it for me in a very positive way. So somehow I motivate myself a little bit more than normal Ryder Cup years. 2016, it's very difficult to say because it's a little bit more complicated with the Olympic Games, with the scheduling.

Travelling will be a little bit easier because I'm not playing as many tournaments in America as the last two or three years, so I'll focus a little bit more on The European Tour and play maybe a couple more there in order to get enough points to qualify for The Ryder Cup.

But overall, I think for golf in general, it's a very exciting year, a lot of young players that are on top of the world, or the World Rankings and then playing very well. And then with the Olympic Games, I think it's a huge opportunity for golf to grow worldwide. I believe it depends a lot on the players, how they talk about in the media. Hopefully that will turn out well for golf.

Q. You've spoken very well in the past about the difficulties and issues you had to get to No. 1 in the world and winning a major so young; you spoke about not being ready for it at the time. Can you appreciate the challenges that Jordan will have this year after such an outstanding 2015?
MARTIN KAYMER: I think it depends a lot on the character. I think Rory could handle it very well. Jordan obviously does. Tiger did it very well. And then you have other guys who didn't stay up for a long time, and I think it's not that much to do with golf, because there's a reason why they got there. The good thing in golf is you don't get there because you played a couple months well; it's more about the consistency.

So I think I can identify myself with other people who have been No. 1 people in the world who didn't stay for long, but it's not easy. You have to have the right character for it. Craig and me, we had the conversation today on the golf course, and he said: "What will be more important for you, to win tournaments or to be No. 1 in the world again?"

And to be honest, to be the No. 1 is great, you know, for yourself. You proved to yourself that you can be the best player in the world. Is that the position that I like to be in every day? Definitely not. I would rather win the tournaments that I want to win. I'm 50 per cent there with two majors. If it happens to be the No. 1 in the world again, fair enough.

But what Jordan does for the last, not only last year, but in 2014 already, is very difficult when you're that young. I was two or three years older than him, and having that much expectation for someone who is that young; and especially living in America where sport is a lot bigger than where I'm from, you need to have a lot of respect for it. And I think he handles it very well, too; the way he speaks, the way he is on the golf course to the other players, I think you can only, yeah, say well done.

Q. When you say you wouldn't like to be there every day and you speak about the difficulties, can you explain what they are? What is it about that that you're maybe uncomfortable with?
MARTIN KAYMER: It's just, you know, again, it really depends on you, how much attention you like. Do you like to go tonight clubs, restaurants, where three quarters of the restaurant know you; where the chef is happy to rather serve you first than the guy next to you, even though he ordered half an hour earlier; are you okay with that, that your food comes early even though you come later.

For me, it's uncomfortable because it's not right somehow, just because I hit the ball better than maybe he is -- I don't know, maybe he's a dentist, he's slower with repairing teeth (laughter). For me, it's uncomfortable. Maybe for others, it's okay; they don't even think about it. You can say it's a problem to think about it or not. It's just a matter of who you are and how you grew up. I didn't really like that; to be treated special. And I know people, they change so much around you, and I didn't like that. And I didn't know how to handle it.

Now it's okay. Now I can handle it and I have the experience from the past. But back then, it was very difficult.

Q. An Olympic Gold Medal or a major championship?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, I'll take the major next year, the Gold Medal this year. In my career, I've only, maybe twice, hopefully three times a chance to win a Gold Medal. The major, I will have a lot more. I have time to win one of those again. So with this year, I would definitely take the Gold Medal.

Q. And is it partly because it's for your country?
MARTIN KAYMER: Yes, first, it's for your country. Second, you know, they are athletes. They are not that privileged than we are to make that much money. They need to have a job next to their hobby, next to their sport, what they do in order to finance what they do, what they love.

So they make 500, 600, 800 Euros per month, from their sport, so they need to have another job in order to do what they do, to have a living. So you fight for them, as well. And just for -- it's very difficult to put into words, but the whole experience of what you have seen many, many years on TV, the emotions that the athletes show, some, they have trained for four years for a few seconds, and I think it's the whole vibe, there's so much energy and so much passion for what you love and whatever it is, whether it's a sport or whatever. There's so much passion that could be so strong.

I think that if I go, I would like to have the maximum out of it. Not sure if I can get it, but if I can win or if I can compete or at least have a chance and go to other sports, watch them and see how much heart they put in it, I think that is what the Olympic Games are all about, and that's why I think it would be amazing to be successful there.

Q. What is your greatest Olympic memory?
MARTIN KAYMER: It's not really a success of somebody or an achievement. I think it was Dirk Nowitzki when he was carrying the flag, when he walked for the Opening Ceremony. Just the other athletes behind him and the way his facial expression was, how proud he was, how strong he made, or he made the team look very strong behind him, so the Army led by Dirk Nowitzki, he's not a tiny boy. So that moment, in the newspapers, when I can see his face, but that's massive.

Q. What year are you talking about? He's not a name which I a.m. familiar?
MARTIN KAYMER: Dirk Nowitzki? (Laughter). Basketball, Dallas Mavericks, MVP a few times.

For me, he's a big role model because he went to America with pretty much nothing, and he was just good in his sport and he built himself up just by his talent, by his dedication and I think he's a very grounded person and he doesn't like the whole show around; that he's just good in what he does. I think that's brilliant, and that shows a lot about the values that I think we tried to teach the kids in Germany.

Q. Can you compare the spirit which is in the air during The Ryder Cup or will be in the air during the Olympics around the golf?
MARTIN KAYMER: Ryder Cup, I think it's very intense for a few days, and I think the Olympic Games, I can only speculate, because I have no experience. I have never been to them. I only watch them on TV. I heard from other athletes, from spectators, visitors, who have been there. I believe it's more spread out over those, whatever weeks, three, three and a half weeks it is. I think Ryder Cup is probably more on the point, more within those few hours that you have. So it makes you tired quickly.

I believe the Olympic Games is a little bit more -- maybe a little bit more relaxed atmosphere until it gets to the point where it's about winning or losing. But it's just speculation for me, I don't know. I can tell you next year when I come back here.

Q. Could you envisage Germany turning to a golfer to carry the flag in at the Opening Ceremony?
MARTIN KAYMER: If I have a chance to carry -- no. I don't think I'm good enough compared to other athletes. I'm not known -- I'm not as well-known as other athletes. And to be honest, winning two majors and being at The Ryder Cup three times, yes, it's a great achievement, but compared to others, I don't think so. I would like it. Not sure if I would be the right person for it, because I have no experience with the Olympic Games. Maybe the second time.

The first time, I think will be a lot for someone who has never been there and have such a responsibility. I mean, you are kind of the leader of the team. So not sure if I would like to have that the very first time I play.

Q. And one other question, completely different. Given the nature of your schedule this year, the lack of starts in America, and being more European-centric, do you embrace that as a help or do you see that as a hindrance?
MARTIN KAYMER: I get asked that question a lot and I don't understand the question, really. My tournaments, they will be exactly the same. I'm not going to play less or more. Last year, I played 13 events, but only because I needed to play one more in order to make it to the FedExCup, which I didn't make that in the end. So my schedule was focused on 12 events until the FedExCup.

And this year, I will play a maximum of 12 events, as well. So my schedule doesn't really change. Maybe I play one less if I feel like it because I don't need to play a minimum. But I will play probably one or two tournaments more, what I said earlier, on The European Tour, in order to fight a little bit more for The Ryder Cup and be part of it.

Q. Excuse my ignorance about German sport, but can you name a couple of the people you think would be ahead of you to carry a flag?
MARTIN KAYMER: Probably Timo Boll, the table tennis guy. He's probably up there every single time he plays. They usually lose against the Chinese, but that's it pretty much. He could be there. Another one, I can't really name one now because they are all -- some of them, they are injured, they probably won't play or probably won't be part of it.

Q. Any footballer?
MARTIN KAYMER: For example, those are more known than me. If you take Schweinsteiger, Thomas Müller, Manuel Neuer, those guys, people know them. When they see my face in the newspaper, 90 per cent of the Germans say, who is that guy. So when Manuel Neuer is in there, say, okay, I know him, or Mario Götze, he made us happy last year when we won the World Cup.

So I think for the first time, they should go ahead, second time with your help, maybe pressure Germany, we can work together.

Q. Just to follow up on your answer there, if you were to win a medal at the Olympics, how much more recognisable would you become to the German sporting public?
MARTIN KAYMER: The Ryder Cup would have helped if it would have gotten that one; then you have a full picture. I actually thought winning the U.S. Open would have brought a lot more attention to it. It was unlucky timing because the World Cup just started the next day.

So not many people really got much -- or I didn't get much attention for winning that one. Which I don't really care about that any ways. It's just about that you want to, it's nice to be recognised. Everybody has an ego and once in awhile, I think it's nice to be recognised from your country that you have done something special and I certainly did that, but in other ways.

Q. It's not really a question of ego; it's a question of how much it can bring for golf in terms of recognition for golfers if they do do well in the Olympics for countries that are not traditionally golf countries.
MARTIN KAYMER: I think it depends on what you make out of it. I think it depends on me then, if I promote it more; if I go to TV shows, if I do a couple more interviews here and there. Yeah, just to do my opportunities that I will probably get through that, I think it depends on how much I will do with my success. So it depends on me, I believe.

Q. The Ryder Cup, Germany not getting it, the last time we spoke to you, I think was at the Dunhill Links and everything seemed hunky-dory with Germany and the government, etc. How much of a disappointment was it to lose out to Italy for 2022?
MARTIN KAYMER: Of course, you're a little sad about it because that's what you want as a player, to play in your own country.

I'm not quite sure about all the insides. I just heard and read about it, as well, that obviously financially, Italy was way ahead of us. So I think in order to compete more with the PGA TOUR, to give all the players of The European Tour a better chance to make more money, I think financially, it's the right decision from my point of view. And I think financially, we were even behind Austria, as well.

So no one could really know -- I think Fiat, they came into the bid, as well, so they put a lot of money into it for the Italian bid. So there's not much you can do, really. To have that much money is very difficult to say no from The European Tour.

STEVE TODD: Martin, thanks for joining us, and we wish you well this week.

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