Kaymer on his magic moment: 'That Ryder Cup putt My whole career rested on it'
22:54 GMT, 20 December 2012
In the days following the holing of the five-foot putt of a lifetime and the jubilation expressed by his Ryder Cup team-mates and Europe’s disbelieving supporters, Martin Kaymer described it as one of those putts where you feel the hero if you make it and an idiot if you do not.
But, as the days have turned to weeks and the full impact of what he achieved during Europe’s 14-13 victory has sunk in, the thoughtful German has come to look upon that short putt that realised the Miracle at Medinah in even more stark terms.
‘Now I honestly feel like my whole career might have been on the line,’ he said.
Zero to hero: Martin Kaymer salvaged a poor year with the winning putt at Medinah
‘I sometimes think about what would have happened if I had missed it. Would I have had the mental strength to recover from thinking I had let down a whole continent
‘I had a similar putt to win my first major, the US PGA Championship in 2010, but the feeling was completely different.
‘If I had missed that one it would have been my own fault and I would have moved on to the next major.
‘But letting down so many people That doesn’t bear thinking about.’
The other side of the coin, of course, is the confidence that has flowed from making it.
‘Up to that point it hadn’t been a good year for me, I would have given it about a three or four at best out of 10,’ he said. ‘Then, all of a sudden, you feel a lot happier about matters. On paper you’d probably still only give the year a three or four but mentally it had suddenly gone up a few marks.’
No pressure then: Kaymer watches his putt find its way toward the hole on the 18th… before sparking wild celebrations (below)
That much was obvious in his final event in South Africa, where it looked like the Kaymer of a couple of years back as he held off the local favourite, Charl Schwartzel, to win his first tournament of the year.
Now he’s enjoying some downtime and the celebrity twirl that follows on from being the man who completed the comeback.
There was an appearance on one of the biggest television shows in Germany, for example. It is called I Bet That I Can, in which members of the general public bet they can do certain unlikely things and Hollywood and sporting stars have to decide whether they can or not.
Nothing put in front of Kaymer by Joe Public could have been as unlikely as the idea that he would end up on Sunday at Medinah as the man feted by all and sundry.
Who would possibly have bet on that on Saturday, when Kaymer sat out both sessions and, on the advice of assistant captain Darren Clarke, sought out his hero, Bernhard Langer, for some serious counselling.
‘I hadn’t played well on Friday and was desperate to show what I could do on Saturday, so you can imagine how I felt when I was told I wasn’t playing,’ he said.
‘Bernhard was a huge help. He reminded me in no uncertain terms what team play is all about.’
Trophy life: Graeme McDowell, Kaymer and Justin Rose enjoy one of the more remarkable comebacks in Ryder Cup history
As Sunday afternoon unfolded dramatically, it began to dawn on Kaymer that he might end up in the spot occupied by Graeme McDowell last time. From the forgotten man the previous day, he had become the one all his team-mates were relying on.
‘I think for the last 90 minutes I knew that it would probably come down to my match,’ he recalled.
‘On the 14th I was looking at the board and I was all square, Francesco (Molinari) in the last match against Tiger Woods was all square and I was counting the points we had got.
‘I could see that something huge was potentially unfolding. One, two, three, four points, on I went but I knew we needed at least a point from me, or two half-points from Francesco and me.
‘The last three holes were great, the excitement was beautiful. On the 17th I had a four-footer that I had to hole and, when that went in, it gave me a lot of belief.’
It is entirely typical of Kaymer that he admits feeling uncomfortable at the amount of praise that has flowed his way.
‘I was a little surprised afterwards at how many people came up and congratulated me,’ he said.
Trump card: Ian Poulter gave Europe a glimpse on Saturday afternoon as five birdies ensured a point in the fourballs to make it 10-6
‘Obviously I made the last putt but at the end of the day I got only one point and I played in only two matches. There were other guys, they inspired the team a lot more than me. I mean, what Ian Poulter did on Saturday afternoon is very difficult to put into words. He deserves a lot more credit than anyone else.'
So to the 18th hole and that cauldron of noise. Kaymer must still be able to hear the cries of ‘Miss it! Miss it!’ even now.
could hear people trying to put me off but it wasn’t distracting me,’
he said. ‘You are so much in the moment. I thought of what Jose Maria
(Olazabal) had told me in very straightforward, very strict sentences.
This is why I want you on the team. We need your win, so please
And deliver he did, with two perfect blows to strike fear into the heart of his opponent, Steve Stricker.
Then, after the putt Kaymer couldn’t believe travelled fully five feet past the hole, came the one that will define him.
In the weeks that have followed,
Kaymer has watched it countless times. ‘I’m a great believer in watching
things that make you happy,’ he said.
‘It was a great party on the green there, wasn’t it’