By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MEDINAH, Ill. -- Martin Kaymer wasn't particularly happy when he found out he wasn't going to play at all on Saturday at the Ryder Cup.
At the same time, the German didn't make a birdie in his Four-ball match with Justin Rose on Friday so he could understand European Captain Jose Maria Olazbal's decision. So Kaymer, who is a methodical sort, used the experience as motivation.
"You want to prove that you can do better than what I showed on Friday, because on Friday, I didn't show good golf," Kaymer said. "... I definitely (wanted) to show him that I can win a match here."
Little did Kaymer know that he would not only get the chance to win a match, he would have the opportunity to win the Ryder Cup on Sunday -- and more importantly, deliver. Kaymer earned the decisive point when he holed a pressure-packed par putt at the 18th hole to preserve a 1-up decision over Steve Stricker.
Don't ask him what it felt like, though. Did the ball hit the back of the hole, or trickle into the cup on the final revolution? He won't know until he watches the highlight reel.
"I was so very controlled, because I know exactly what I had to do," Kaymer said. "But if you ask me now how that putt went and how it rolled, I have no idea. …
“When it went in, I was just very happy, and that is something that I will remember probably for the rest of my life and hopefully I can talk about when I have some grandchildren one day."
Kaymer, who spent eight weeks as the world No. 1, is also pleased with the way he responded to the pressure. Olazabal, who the German called a "great man," came to Kaymer, who was playing in the third match from the end, on the 16th green and told him how important his match was.
"'We need your point,'" Kaymer remembers his captain saying. "And I don't really care how you do it; just deliver.' But I like those; that's very straightforward. That's the way we Germans are. Fortunately I could handle it, and I made the last putt.
"But I think it will give me a huge push, a huge confidence for
the next few months, and definitely for next year; if you know you
can make those important putts ... I don't even know if important
is the right word, but it's probably more than that ... then pretty
much you can do anything.
"And then just knowing that, and getting the job done, not only for the team, but for me it was very important to get the trophy for José Maria, because I know how much it means to him, and I think we can be very, very proud and very happy to have such a strong man behind the team."
Another strong man – this one named Bernhard Langer -- contributed to the European victory. Kaymer texted his countryman, who played in 10 Ryder Cups and captained another, on Friday evening and asked if the two could chat the following day.
"I would say I was not as inspired as I should be, I thought," Kaymer said. "We talked a little bit about a bunch of stuff, and he has been a fantastic role model for me, and he's always there if I need him.”
Even more interesting, then, is the fact that Sunday's Singles and the chance to retain the Ryder Cup hinged on a 6-foot par putt by Kaymer. Langer faced a putt from similar distance and the same situation at the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island -- and missed.
Did Kaymer think about that putt?
"I don't like the question, but it's true; yes, I did," he said.
"I did think about him, especially when I walked around the hole
and read the putt from the other side. ... There was a footprint in
my line, but it was not that bad. So I thought, okay, it's not
going to happen again, it's not going to happen again.
"And to be honest with you, I didn't really think about missing. There was only one choice you have; you have to make it."
By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
When Rory McIlroy won The Honda Classic to take over the top spot in the World Golf Rankings, it gave Titleist bragging rights as the equipment manufacturer on the top bag in golf.
Those rights have switched hands as much as the top ranking has in the past year-plus.
McIlroy succeeded Luke Donald (a Mizuno guy), who supplanted Lee Westwood (Ping), who took the mantle from Martin Kaymer (TaylorMade). Westwood also had it for a period before Kaymer, then of course for years prior to that it was all Tiger Woods, and all those Nike swooshes.
Interestingly, bragging rights to the FedExCup have also been shared. Bill Haas won it last year as a Titleist guy, and before that it was Jim Furyk (Srixon hat, mixed bag), Woods (Nike) and Vijay Singh (Cleveland).
LOB-STER: McIlroy said his up-and-down on the 14th hole at PGA National’s Champions Course was his best of the week – and he had a lot of them while leading the field in scrambling at 83.3 percent.
McIlroy had a shot of some 65 yards from rough so deep he could barely see the ball, yet he slid a 60-degree wedge under it to within four feet, then made the putt.
That new wedge, a Titleist Vokey Design with four degrees of bounce, first went in the bag the week prior at the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play, where McIlroy was runner-up.
“He’s got such great hands, he can play a little less bounce than your average player,” said Titleist Vokey Tour Rep Aaron Dill. “He’s just a magician -- he hits it high, low, he spins it.”
HATSPEAK: If you’re wondering why TaylorMade staff players such as Sergio Garcia, Justin Rose and Johnson Wagner (right) are wearing hats with “17” on it at TPC Blue Monster, it’s for the company’s continuing RocketBallz campaign. The 17 is for the company’s claim of 17 yards extra distance over other 3-woods (your mileage may vary).
It’s the company’s second hat drive this year; at the Northern Trust Open its PGA TOUR players wore white hats with a simple red heart on the front, part of a “#driverlove” social media campaign.
SHAFT SWAP: Sang-moon Bae, No. 2 in PGATOUR.COM’s rookie rankings, changed shafts in his Callaway Razr X Muscleback irons from a Dynamic Gold S-400s to KBS Tour stiff, allowing for higher shots and an easier time drawing the ball. He finished T47 at The Honda Classic
WINNER’S BAG: McIlroy at The Honda Classic:
Driver: Titleist 910D2 (8.5 degrees)
Fairways woods: Titleist 906F2 (13, 18 degrees)
Irons: MB (3-9)
Wedges: Vokey Design SM4 (46, 54, 60 degrees)
Putter: Scotty Cameron GSS Newport prototype with deep milled face
Ball: Titleist ProV1x
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
MARANA, Ariz. -- Martin Kaymer didn't win the World Golf Championships-Accenture Match Play Championship last year but he came away with a pretty nice consolation prize.
Kaymer, who was on the losing end of a 3-and-2 decision to Luke Donald in the finals, still managed to ascend to No. 1 in the world thanks to the strong run through the elite field of 64. The 27-year-old German held the spot for eight weeks -- five more than his countryman Bernhard Langer had done.
Turns out, though, that lofty position was something of a double-edged sword. While Kaymer still managed to post seven more top-10s, including a win at the World Golf Championships-HSBC Champions, last year he admits his focus sometimes waned and the swing adjustments he made are still kicking in.
"I still think I play good golf," Kaymer said. "But overall, I understand the last year has been a little different for myself. I obviously was No. 1 in the world. It was not only a big thing for me but Germany as well and German golf. So a lot has happened and my focus has gotten a little bit away from golf, but then in the middle of the season I could focus back on golf.
"I was changing a few things. … I feel very good about my game. It is just a matter of time that it will happen that I have a good long time of good tournaments. I'm not too concerned. I still play good golf and I know I need to be on my top form in order to win.
“You need to keep working and improving. That is what at the moment I enjoy the most. I have a lot of things that I can work on and I see I can benefit from it. It will become better and better every month."
Kaymer, who has been called in some quarters "The Germanator," is now ranked No. 4 in the world and top-seeded in the Ben Hogan bracket. He plays Australia's Greg Chalmers in the first round at 1:25 p.m. ET.
Kaymer knows Chalmers is left-handed and a good putter but "that's pretty much it," the German said. Chalmer's two wins in a three-week stretch Down Under weren't lost on Kaymer, either.
"Geoff Ogilvy and me were at dinner yesterday," Kaymer said. "I asked him if he knows him. He said yeah, he is very good in short game, so you should be careful, never give up on anything, or think, okay, that's my hole, Which you should not do in match play anyways, especially with him. That's what I heard.
"At the end of the day, if I shoot one stroke better than him, I will be fine. I'm not Googling him or trying to look up things."
Martin Kaymer takes the outright lead at Sheshan with this birdie on the par-3 17th.