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October 1 2012

6:41 AM

Kaymer responds to pressure

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Martin Kaymer celebrates the putt the enabled Europe to retain the Ryder Cup.

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." 

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