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March 15 2011

9:40 PM

Kaymer doesn’t mind being under radar

Interview: Martin Kaymer

Martin Kaymer discusses playing at Innisbrook and being a low-key World No. 1.

Among the queries Martin Kaymer fielded during his pre-tournament interview at the Transitions Championship was whether the world No. 1 minded that casual golf fans probably still thought that Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson held that spot. Kaymer's answer was as unassuming as his personality.

"No, not at all," the 26-year-old from Germany said. "I know Tiger Woods is probably the best player who ever played the game. He is probably the best talent ever. He hasn’t lost his talent over night. He will come back one day. Obviously Phil, I find it very strange that he has never been No. 1 in the world. He really deserved to be there, but obviously with Tiger up there all those years it was very difficult. 

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"At the moment I feel very comfortable in the position that I’m in. Under the radar? Maybe a little bit. Maybe it’s good for me that all the attention isn’t on me all the time."

So it was interesting to read this tweet from one of his PGA TOUR contemporaries -- @TROYMERRITT_PGA -- several hours later. "Funny moment of the day: lady asked world #1, Martin Kaymer, if he was a player or caddy!"

Even if that particular woman didn't know Kaymer, he does get recognized in airports and restaurants these days. In fact, the management at a steakhouse in Scottsdale, where he has a home, sent out a special cake congratulating the newly crowned world No. 1. "It was a very cool feeling," Kaymer said.

Kaymer, who was in the mix through two rounds at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship before falling down into a tie for 24th with a pair of 74s last weekend, is playing in the Transitions Championship for the first time. It will be his only event prior to the Masters, which he is sure to enter as a favorite despite three missed cuts there.

"I’ve heard it’s a fantastic tournament with a great golf course that suits my game," Kaymer said of the Transitions Championship. "I didn’t want to play the week before Augusta because I did that the last three years and I never played well at Augusta.  So I needed to change things up. 

"I want to play well at Augusta and in order to do so I wanted to give myself two weeks off, or three weeks.  And knowing from other people that the golf course is one where I can do well, I was happy to get the invitation."

After the Transitions Championship is over, Kaymer, who reiterated that he hopes to join the PGA TOUR in the future, plans head back to Scottsdale. He'll prepare at Whisper Rock Golf Club, then head to Augusta the Wednesday or Thursday of the week prior to the Masters and play several rounds with his father and brother Philip.

"Since I’m with my dad and my brother, obviously they are not allowed to play the championship course, but we will go somewhere else around there," the reigning PGA champ said.

Kaymer has big goals for 2010, too. And a reversal of fortunes at Augusta National would go a long way toward making those reality.

"I would like to play the majors similar to how I played them last year," Kaymer said. "I had two top-10s and a win. And  I would like to defend my title in the Race to Dubai. That would be great.” – Helen Ross

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