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January 16, 2013

Martin Kaymer


PAUL SYMES:  Martin, thanks a lot for coming in, even by your standards you have a great record here, what is it in particular about Abu Dhabi Golf Club that seems to suit you so much.
MARTIN KAYMER:  Well, some years it suits my eye, some years it doesn't.  I've been here six times.  I've won three times and missed the cut twice.  So either one might happen this week.  It's just a golf course, obviously if you come from a long break, you're very motivated to play golf again.  Especially my case, I always practise a lot in the wintertime in Arizona.
Then coming here to a golf course that I really like and have been successful on; that I never really have to play against my feel, which is very rare on golf courses where you go and you can really feel very comfortable on every hole‑‑ well, not every hole.¬† There are a couple holes where I'm not that happy about the tee box.
But in general, it's a golf course that I would put it anywhere else in the world.
PAUL SYMES:¬† Interesting three‑ball you have in the first round, playing with Tiger and Rory.
MARTIN KAYMER:  Interesting, yes, for sure.  There's a lot of Nike running around I guess.  (Smiling).
It's always nice to play with them.  Obviously I get along with Rory and I get along with Tiger, so it will be a lot more people out there tomorrow.  But you know, we are all just golf players.
PAUL SYMES:  As the man who sunk the winning putt in The Ryder Cup, the announcement last night, what do you make of Paul's appointment at Ryder Cup Captain?
MARTIN KAYMER:  Well, I think it was between two or three guys, and obviously the players' committee decided for Paul.
For me, it's very tough to say.  I don't know Paul that well.  I got to know him a little bit at The Ryder Cup and what I liked about him, that he really listened.  There's no, not superficial or anything, ask the same question but is not really interested.  He really listened and he gave myself very good feedback.  We had a couple good talks on Thursday and Friday, so the way I got to know Paul was very good.
I think he has done a lot for European golf.  He deserves to be the captain at one stage, and he is in two years' time.

Q.  I'm thinking back to the year you played well in the Match Play, and obviously you live in the desert.  Is there something about the desert and playing in the desert that just strikes familiar with you?  Obviously no deserts in Germany, so it's not something you grew up doing, but you sort of live in one now.
MARTIN KAYMER:  Yeah, probably that's the reason I didn't like to go to Arizona a lot.  For me it's a very calming place.  Every time I go there in the wintertime, I can really calm down.  I can enjoy my time there.  There's no stress.  I like to be in the desert.  It's nice for me.  It's a calming atmosphere.  The golf courses that I play there are very similar to here.  That maybe could be one reason why I like to come here and usually play well.

Q.  Whisper Rock?
MARTIN KAYMER:  Whisper Rock, yeah.
So every time we come here or we play somewhere in the West Coast in America, I do enjoy it.  I don't know, it's something that, yeah, you are right, we don't have in Germany, but maybe that's why I'm not as often in Germany anymore and more in Scottsdale.

Q.  You just mentioned that there were a couple of holes out there which didn't suit your eye, which is very surprising, but just name them, which are these two?
MARTIN KAYMER:  Well, the toughest tee shot for me is No.9.  That's a weird one.  But maybe it has something to do with I hit it a couple times in the water on the left, and usually I don't miss a lot of fairways here.  And then those tee shots, they stick out a little bit.
And then another one, is 11, I don't know why.¬† Those left‑to‑rights, you would think it suits my eye, but it doesn't.
So those are just two tee shots that are not my favourite, but I mean, I'm still happy to hit the fairway tomorrow if I'm lucky.

Q.  You must be happy with the way you finished the season, winning the Nedbank.  Do you think you've carried on that form from South Africa through the winter break?
MARTIN KAYMER:  Yeah, it's very important for me to win a tournament, every year, and I had not won a tournament last year until South Africa.  So going into the last two or three, I told myself, there's no way out anymore.  I have to win.
Otherwise, it will be a very disappointing year; even though The Ryder Cup was very successful, but for me individually, it meant a lot when I could go to South Africa and win there.
Then I took two weeks off and started playing again.  I can't remember that I ever took two weeks off of golf, maybe, five, six, seven days, but I really took two weeks off.  I didn't want to play golf anymore.  I was playing too much, so many rounds and I practised a lot.
And when I picked up the golf club again, I didn't hit the ball as good anymore and I was like, where is it.  I was playing really well the end of last year and I thought, it can't disappear so I kept hitting balls, practising a lot.  Took me a week to feel the same, than in November, again.
So the feel is back and I'm playing well I guess, but we will see.  It all comes down to the tournament.  The tournament you feel different, you play different and your focus is different and then you can tell.  I can tell you on Sunday afternoon.

Q.  Your take on playing with Tiger and Rory, is that an advantage or disadvantage?  I guess on one hand you could say, you're going to have the biggest gallery and could get the competitive juices flowing playing with the two best golfers in the world.  On the other hand maybe a disadvantage maybe because there's going to be a lot of people following you, potential noise around the green, etc?
MARTIN KAYMER:  At the end of the day, if it's Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, we are all just golf players.  Yes, those two, they are very special, the way they play golf, the way they are on the golf course.
It's enjoyable to play with them, and you can always learn.  So you watch them a little bit more maybe here and there, but in the end of the day, you know, I'm here to win the title for the fourth time, and if there are more people, less people, that doesn't matter.
You know, I've been around for the last few years and I'm used to play with little people and with a lot of people.  So it doesn't make a difference to me.  To play with Tiger or Rory, what I said earlier, they are nice people.  I get along with them, so let's just play golf.

Q.¬† When you had that 5‑, 6‑footer at the 18th at Medinah, I know you're locked into the process and you're looking at the line and trying to remember what the ball did when it rolled past the hole, but were you aware of the circumstances of what happens if you make and what happens if you miss?¬† Or do you just try to block that out?¬† You could have been hero if you miss‑‑
MARTIN KAYMER:  Or big idiot.  (Laughter).

Q.  Either way, you're going to be the man or they are going to dump it all on your head, and that's where the comeback blew up.
MARTIN KAYMER:¬† Again it might be a little bit longer of an answer here.¬† The thing was, I didn't try to block it out.¬† I tried to‑‑ obviously I knew what's going to happen.¬† I knew the last three or four holes, it's down to Francesco and me.
So it was probably the best feeling I ever had in my life; to have the responsibility knowing that you can make something huge happen for the team and for yourself, and knowing that I can handle it, I knew I can handle it.
You watch the other guy you play against, you see him acting a little bit different and that makes you stronger knowing that you won't be any different; knowing that you can handle it and that you can handle the whole circumstance here.
Even though you experience new things while you play; on 17 and 18, the tee shot, I really needed to calm down.¬† You're 1‑up going to the last hole, making one of the most important putts all week on that 17th green, and then was standing on the green and had two putts to win The Ryder Cup.¬† So I knew everything.
And that was the great thing about it.  That's why I could enjoy the last three or four holes as much as I did.  It never will cross my mind that I will miss the putt.  I was putting very well.  I knew exactly the line; there was no choice.  There was no choice that I will miss it.  I have to make it.
So there's no doubt.  I know under those circumstances, I knew I don't miss.

Q.  Did that help spur that little upswing in your game towards the last couple months of the season, just the confidence from that, after sort of having a pretty uneventful spring and summer?
MARTIN KAYMER:  It's a good feeling knowing that at least something worked out this year.  I did so much, I worked on a lot of different parts in my golf, and it has not really worked out all year.  Even though I played well, but it just didn't happen.
And then something career‑changing happened.¬† And obviously that gives you so much motivation and belief.¬† I mean, even I could use it in South Africa straightaway, a few months later, going into the final round knowing when it comes down to the last two or three holes, you're going to be the strongest.¬† So that helps.
Obviously once in awhile, I might screw up.  It will happen.  But just knowing that I can do it; if it comes down to very important putts or to the most important putts, I can make it.  If I don't make it, maybe deep inside it was not as important for me, because otherwise I would have made it.  So it's a nice feeling.

Q.  You'd been struggling with your game before the Ryder Cup, so where do you think the confidence from?  The way you had been playing perhaps, people might have thought you would have dreaded the putt to win The Ryder Cup?
MARTIN KAYMER:  Just the belief; the belief that I've done the right thing.  Even though a lot of people thought, and maybe still think, it was wrong that I changed and was trying to become better, trying to improve.
But it was very, very necessary.  Like mentally, as well.  Knowing for myself, if I had changed a few things, I will become better, and if you have the trust from the people around you, that they believe in the same thing, that gives you more confidence that you really do the right thing and you just have to stick with it.  And sooner or later, it will happen.
I mean, we talked about it actually earlier, José Maria and me in the players' lounge about Tiger in'97 when he won the Masters, and then he went to Butch Harmon and changed a few things.  And he didn't play very well the next year.  But then between '99 and 2002, obviously everybody knew what happened there.
I'm not comparing myself to Tiger at all, but I think sometimes you just have to do things that feel right for you.  They don't make sense for other people, but that does matter; not as much as it should matter to you.
So some things are necessary, and then we will see.¬† I mean, I don't want to look back in ten years and think, maybe I should have done‑‑ well, I will probably still win a few tournaments, but maybe I can win more.

Q.  Do you think the timing was right, though, because you had just won a major, you got to No. 1 in the world, and it seemed a strange time from outside to be tinkering with your game.
MARTIN KAYMER:  Not for me.  You know, for me it was the right time.  I didn't feel like the No. 1 in the world.  I was, but I didn't feel like it.  I knew I can't play all the shots I wanted.  And for me, if you are the best player in the world, you should be able to hit many, many different golf shots, and I just couldn't.
And just knowing that didn't make me feel like the No. 1.  If you don't feel like it, you will never stay No. 1.  So that's why I needed to change.

Q.¬† Have you given up on the draw then, or‑‑
MARTIN KAYMER:  Not given up.

Q.  Or are you still working on that?
MARTIN KAYMER:  I don't need to work on it anymore.  I've found it, which is nice.
Now, let's say in the past, I played only the fade.  Let's say that's right here.  And then I was trying to get to the draw.  But I still kept this.
But I was working on the draw.  But now it has to come together and when it comes together, that's the ultimate feeling that you can have, knowing whatever happens on a golf course, that you have a chance to make that golf shot as good as possible.  In the past, I couldn't.  I mean, it's frustrating, knowing you can't hit a golf shot.
So I just need a little bit more time where I'm not stressing about it and then I hope there won't be much more question about the draw.

Q.  Do you think Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy will be scared to play with you the first two days of the tournament, especially here?
MARTIN KAYMER:  Do you think they will be scared of me?  It's all good.  They don't need to.  We just have a good time four hours each day and we will see who plays the best.

Q.  Four hours?  You're optimistic.
MARTIN KAYMER:  We play in Europe.  In America it's a little bit slower, usually.

Q.  When you referred to looking at your opponent and seeing him acting differently, is that a general observation, or do you think Steve was acting differently coming down the stretch on Sunday?
MARTIN KAYMER:  Maybe it was only something that I wanted to see.  But the golf shots that he hit and the way he walked was different, a little different to me.
When he picked up the tee after he hit the golf shot, it was just different.  Maybe, I don't know, it could be positive for him, but it was more positive for me that the guy I play against is changing because of circumstances.

Q.  His routine changed?
MARTIN KAYMER:  The routine, I don't know about the routine, just the way he was acting.  The way he was picking up the tee.  Maybe he was a little bit quicker, or the talks he had with his caddie.  Something was different, and I used it as a positive thing for me.
Maybe it was positive for him, too, but for me, I saw the change and I thought the change in the situation for me, it was ideal, and maybe I'm wrong and he has not changed but for me it was the way I handle the situation the best and gave me the confidence. 

Q.  With your three wins in Abu Dhabi and your love for the desert conditions, have you ever thought of buying property in this part of the region?
MARTIN KAYMER:  I'm waiting for you to give me one.  (Laughter).

Q.  Are you thinking with the idea to be based here to practise during the winter?
MARTIN KAYMER:  Don't get me wrong, I like to come here a lot.  It's a very nice place and we come here, we should come here more often, that's for sure, because there's a lot of potential here.  The golf courses we play, they are fantastic.  The people we work with is fun, and I hope the world gets to know the states and the countries here even better, because it is very nice to come here.
But where I live in Germany and in Arizona, that is where I want to be.  That is where my family is and that is where that makes me happy when I wake up in the morning, and so that's why I haven't really thought about moving Abu Dhabi.

Q.  I don't know that I've heard your explanation about why you decided to join the PGA TOUR for this year.  Obviously I think we have asked you probably four or five years in a row, are you going to do it, are you going to do it, are you going to do it; why did you finally do it?  Why now?
MARTIN KAYMER:  It was the right time now.  When I was 23, 24, it was maybe a little bit too early.  Now I feel like I would like to try it out how it feels, knowing now what's going to happen in America.  I've played there many times, majors, World Golf Championships, I've got to know the culture more, me living in Arizona, so I feel comfortable.
In the past it was still a little bit unknown, certain things, and I didn't feel very comfortable.  Now I like to go to America, and every time I look toward to go and I understand the culture more.  So now I can go and really enjoy it.
I think in the past, it would have been too early for me.

Q.  Previously you mentioned that you didn't feel you were ready to be the No. 1 golfer in the world.  If you do get there, are you ready now?
MARTIN KAYMER:  Yeah, definitely.  I'm ready to compete against the best.  If it's enough for No. 1, we will see.  I still have to work on a lot of things and that is the great thing.  In everything you achieve, I think the journey is the fun part and I'm right on the journey now.
I don't know where the journey will get me to, if it's No. 1, if it's No. 5, or whatever; that will be the nice part.  And just knowing that I will get up there eventually, and then I can compete against Rory, Tiger, Phil and all those guys again.  And that's the exciting part.  It's not so much about being ready for No. 1, because you change as a person.
What happened the last two years, I changed a lot and I learned a lot about myself, so that's‑‑ I mean, if it's No. 1 or whatever, it's not that important.¬† It's just knowing that you get the maximum out of your sport and out of yourself.

Q.  And reaching No. 1 may be prematurely as you sort of mentioned, and you also had 12 months without a win.  Any expectations or your aims, ambitions for this year ahead?
MARTIN KAYMER:  Expectations, I expect myself to play a lot better; to be more often in contention, because I gained a lot of confidence.  I played better golf.  That's just a fact.
I'm more confident in my swing again.  It feels the same when I came out here.  Just the head is a little bit more mature and I have more experience on the golf course.
So it's not a bad combination.  But on the other hand, you know, I just don't want to put too much pressure on myself.  I just want to enjoy the season.  I'm a rookie on the PGA TOUR.  So I won the Rookie of the Year 2007 in Europe.  No, I am a rookie, it's weird, but it is what it is (smiling).
PAUL SYMES:  Thanks a lot, Martin, have a good week.

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