Medientag im Atlanta Athletic Club für die 93. PGA-Championship und Martin Kaymer war als Titelverteidiger natürlich dabei. Unser Major-Sieger musste in einer Pressekonferenz Rede und Antwort stehen. Einige Erkenntnisse der Fragerei: Golf wird in Deutschland immer populärer. Wäre Langer nicht in die USA gezogen, dann wäre das schon früher geschehen. Eine Worldtour könnte schwierig werden. Und Kaymers Autogramm ist auf Ebay mehr wert als das von NBA-Star Dirk Nowitzky.
Hier nun das gesamte Interview zum Nachschmökern.
Q: How would you describe the differences and similarities between Whistling Straits and this course?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, I think it’s very different. I said to Allen today on the golf course that I think Whistling Straits was a British Open golf course with good weather. When I came there on Monday, I felt fantastic straight away, and being in Atlanta obviously it’s a very different golf course. I don’t think it’s going to be windy at all. It’s going to be very hot, that’s for sure.
When I saw the golf course today, you have to hit fairways. The fairways here are fantastic. The new surface that they have, if you hit the ball it always sounds good, so it makes you feel good about yourself when you’re on the fairway.
Obviously the rough will be thick, will be Bermudagrass, so it will be difficult, but I think you get really rewarded, and I think it’s a big advantage if you hit fairways. It’s a long golf course, but still, you have to strike the ball well, and I like those golf courses when you have to hit it straight and it’s not only a putting competition, that you can boom it down there and then chip it on the green. Here it’s long and you have to be precise because it will be a very difficult challenge.
It’s tough to compare to Whistling Straits because it’s a different golf course, completely different, but at the end of the day you need to give yourself chances, avoid the big numbers. And it’s easy to make double bogeys on this golf course, especially the last four holes. I think there might be some people struggling to get home in two on the par 4s, and I think 15, that par 3, if they put the tee all the way back there, I can see guys hitting 3 woods down there.
So it will be a tough tournament for sure. It’s all about patience and giving yourself chances.
Q. You said at your young age and only playing the Tour for a few years in the video, you were surprised that you had already won a major championship. What was it about last year that kind of surprised you that you won it so young in your career?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, I think in general 2010 was a spectacular year for me, very unexpected. Of course I was thinking that I can do well, that I can win golf tournaments, but I was not really thinking winning majors already. I think it will take some time and some major championships to finally win one. I thought I might have to put myself a lot of times in contention to get used to that feeling, to win one of the biggest tournaments, and after being in contention, if you want to say so, maybe once at the U.S. Open and a little bit at the British Open last year, but obviously Louis won by a few shots in the end, so the PGA Championship here at Whistling Straits last year, when I went into the final round I was not really thinking about winning to be honest because I think Nick Watney was up there, a few other guys. For me it was important to make the Ryder Cup team. That was important to me.
So a lot of what happened last year was very unexpected. I became the No. 1 in Europe, won a major, played the Ryder Cup in Europe, we won the Ryder Cup. So they were all career goals, and I kind of like achieved all those goals with the age of 25. And then people ask me, so what are your next goals you want to ask that, too, right? (Laughter.)
And of course I have more goals. My biggest goal is to win the British Open one day. That is the only major we have in Europe, and I would love to win it, preferably in St. Andrews.
Then obviously the Hall of Fame is a big thing. It probably will take me a few years and a few more wins and a few more majors to get there. But those things are like life goals. That is a career life goal, I think, to get into the Hall of Fame. But last year I think was a good first step.
Q. After you toured the course today, your thoughts about it? But one thing, when they played the PGA here ten years ago you had the two lowest scores in history, Toms and Mickelson. Is that surprising to you that the scores were that low, and do you expect them to be anywhere close to that this time around?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, obviously I don’t know how the golf course was ten years ago. I know that they’ve changed it a little bit, but I can see why David Toms won here, for example. He’s not one of the longest hitters on Tour, but he’s very straight, and that is what I said earlier, which is very important. But I don’t see a guy winning here with 15 , 16 or 18 under par. I struggle to see that. I’m sure they’re going to change the rough a little bit, as well, so you get even more penalized when you’re in there. The greens are going to be firmer and faster. I’m expecting maybe single digits under par. That might be my guess for winning here.
But I don’t see I think David Toms was 14 under or 15 under, so I struggle to see that these days.
Q. Not only your win at Whistling Straits but some others you mentioned and of course the Masters this year, European players have had a great deal of success lately, not only in Europe obviously but here. Do you think the sort of unseen barrier or unspoken about barrier of European guys winning tournaments here and winning big tournaments here is gone, those days are over, those days are past, and what are your emotions about so many European guys being in the top of the World Rankings now?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, I think, first of all, it’s great for the game of golf to have worldwide players up there. There used to be only Tiger and Phil, No. 1 and 2, for many, many years, and now it’s changing kind of like every week, every month.
But I think everything started when Padraig Harrington won in America, when he won a couple majors here, the PGA and when he won the British Open. I think he started us believing that we can win even the big tournaments in America and not only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
And that was kind of like I think the start for us to trust in ourselves and to believe in our abilities.
And then obviously Graeme McDowell, he won the U.S. Open last year, and then I got lucky at the PGA last year. So we will see what’s going to happen the next few majors in the next few years, but I think even in America you have a lot of great young players now, obviously Dustin Johnson, Nick Watney, Anthony Kim and Rickie Fowler, so it’ll be nice, especially nice for me because I know I’m going to play against those guys the next 10, 15 years, so it’s very exciting, and I’m sure there might be some Asian players coming through soon. And I think for the game of golf it’s fantastic at the moment.
Q. A lot of the top European players come over and play some of the PGA Tour events and they play some of the European Tour events. Describe for me how you made the decision which events to play throughout the course of the year.
MARTIN KAYMER: For me it’s important to play the biggest tournaments in the world every year, and obviously through my top 50 in the World Ranking I can play any tournament I want pretty much. So my schedule is yeah, at the beginning of the year I play a lot in America because we have the World Golf Championship event in Arizona, then in Florida, then the Masters, and now in the summertime I pretty much go back to Europe, and I’ll only come back for the majors and for the Firestone and the last World Golf Championship event that we play.
Of course I was thinking about to join the PGA Tour this year, but then I had a look at the schedule, and you need to play 15 tournaments in America at least, and I need to play 13 in Europe. And me living in Germany, it would have been a little bit too much travel wise, and I’m only 26 years old, and I don’t want to get burned out soon.
I was thinking about I feel very comfortable in Europe at the moment, and I would love to play more in America, but I don’t want to be under pressure too much to play those 15 events. And people can say, yeah, well, you can easily get 15 tournaments. You can, but only if you get into the FedExCup, and I cannot expect myself to have every year a fantastic year and get to the finals.
And then if you don’t make the finals you have to come back for the fall season, and in the fall you have great tournaments in Europe. So it’s kind of like a little bit of a conflict. But for me it’s important to play all the majors, the World Golf Championship events, and a few in America there are a few tournaments that I really prefer to play. I can come over and get invitations. So this year so far and last year has worked out very well for me.
Q. I’m wondering if you would discuss the variety of the golf course that you found today for the first time, and also, how often do you feel you’ll not use driver, that driver will be taken out of your hands?
MARTIN KAYMER: On this golf course?
MARTIN KAYMER: Yeah, today I was trying to play the golf course as aggressive as possible to see how far I can go, how short the golf course can play, and sure we had actually a very good caddie today. He was telling me a few things what happened ten years ago where people were hitting the golf ball, where they were laying up, and I think there will still be a lot of drivers because it’s a long golf course, but sometimes it’s more important to hit the fairway even though you have a longer club into the green because the rough will be thick.
I think I tough to say. I think I have to say, par 4s and par 5s combined, you’d probably hit eight, nine times a driver and the others only 3 woods. There are a couple of short par 4s, a couple doglegs here and there where you can’t hit driver, but on some homes like 16, 18, I’m happy to have the big one in the bag.
Q. You mentioned when you teed off on Sunday last year you were not thinking about winning. At what point did you start thinking about winning? In general what’s your philosophy about looking at the leaderboard on Sunday?
MARTIN KAYMER: I think I was thinking about winning when I was in the lead after five or six holes. You know, all of a sudden I saw myself leading a major championship, the PGA. Of course it was very surprising to see Nick Watney making some mistakes at the beginning of the round, and all of a sudden I made some birdies, and I was up there. And then I thought I talked to my caddie, and I said, it doesn’t really matter what happened today for myself. It’s the first time for myself I am leading a major championship, so let’s try to make the best out of it. And yeah, we did. So that was pretty much the point where I was believing that I can win the tournament.
Usually I’m following the leaderboards. I’m not getting nervous when I see myself up there if I am only one or two behind. It’s even more exciting then. That’s what you’re playing golf for, for that excitement and for that adrenaline that you build up or that you get, especially the last five, six holes. So for me usually it’s not a problem, and it gave me even more motivation on that Sunday at Whistling Straits.
Q. Kind of twofold, how do your contemporaries view this championship? It’s been pretty well documented how the first three are thought about, but how do your contemporaries view this PGA, and would you like to see more of the top Americans go to Wentworth and play in the PGA there?
MARTIN KAYMER: Yes, for sure. I think it’s a fantastic tournament. It’s our best tournament that we have in Europe. It’s a great golf course. There were a lot of World Ranking points. I think this year we had the best field we ever had, and I think a lot of guys and I think Tim Finchem and George O’Grady, they’re talking about the World Tour at the moment. I think it will take maybe another two, three years, but I think eventually it will come, and then people if they want to or not, they have to travel.
It would have been nice if a few more Americans would come over to our big event, but then on the other hand you can argue that why didn’t Lee Westwood come over to TPC? Just one of those things that I think it’s up to the players, where they feel more comfortable. And I think what you should never forget, as well, a lot of guys, they have families at home, as well, and they want to be home on Sunday evening and bring the kids to school on Monday morning. And if you travel so much then you can’t do that all the time.
So you know, I can understand those styles, but at the end of the day, the player decides where he wants to play. Would have been nice to have a few more Americans over, but we’ll see, maybe next year or in two years when we have the World Tour. Who knows?
Q. Kind of off the PGA Championship, with your win last year and the Olympics coming up, is the game of golf becoming a more popular sport in your home country?
MARTIN KAYMER: Yes, I think in general the sport has become huge in Germany at the moment. We have a lot of great athletes. You can see I think last night he was on, Dirk Nowitzki, trying to get the trophy in the NBA there. So golf, yes, is getting bigger, as well. There’s that girl, Sandra Gal, she won on the LPGA Tour recently. I’ve done well here on the PGA TOUR so far. So golf is definitely growing, getting a little bit more popular.
Even my old school where I went to school they’re offering golf now in the afternoon in my gym. You can do some golf class if you want to. So it’s getting bigger, and I was very surprised how many people were recognizing me on the street.
Golf was never really big in Germany. We had only one guy, Bernhard Langer, who did a tremendous job for us, for golf in Germany. What he did was obviously amazing. But him living in America, it was tough to find a connection to him and to golf.
And now golf is growing, I think, in the world, but especially in my country, as well. I think for me to represent Germany in the Olympics in 2016, it doesn’t really get bigger than that, to travel there with all the other German athletes and live in the village with them. I think for an athlete it doesn’t get better than being up there on the stand and having the gold medal in your hand because that is something you achieve not only for yourself but it’s what you did for your country, and I think it doesn’t get better.
JULIUS MASON: I’m happy to see on my Blackberry here on PGA.com that your autograph is much more valuable than Dirk’s right now on eBay. (Laughter.)
MARTIN KAYMER: It might change soon when he wins.
Q. Martin, would you expand on your thoughts, please, a little bit more about how a potential World Tour would work and benefit both America and Europe and Asia, as well?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, I think the good thing at the moment is that the European Tour is doing business with the Asian Tour, like a long time ago already, a few years. I think that could help.
But I think the World Tour looks like it’s very tough to say because there are so many regulations. Obviously the politics play a big role, as well, in the end. But I think if Tim Finchem and George O’Grady, if they get along and if they find a way to sit down maybe on one table with the Asian guys and maybe the guys from Dubai, then I think they can do something huge, which obviously includes us. We’d probably have to travel more. Actually for us Europeans we probably might stay the same but maybe the American players might have to travel more because there might be big tournaments in Asia coming up or bigger tournaments in Europe, as well.
But I think it will be like looking towards let’s say the Olympics, for example, that would only help me as a player. I became better from playing around the world. I played a lot in Asia at the beginning of my career, a few times in America at the beginning, and obviously a lot in Europe, and I’ve found or I created different kind of golf shafts because I needed it because I played on different kind of grasses, and obviously the weather is different, and I became a better player through this. So I can see only advantages of that.
But I can only see or as well I can see what I said earlier, that you should never forget the families, as well. They have to travel, as well, and if you have kids, obviously they need to go to school, so it will be very difficult. And I think those things that need to be in consideration, as well, before you make such a big decision about the World Tour, because at the end of the day we’re just playing a game, and it’s just our passion and love that we have. But I think it’s important that the families should not suffer.
Q. How old were you when you started playing golf and what was it in your life that got you playing golf?
MARTIN KAYMER: I was 10 years old, 10, 11 years old, and my dad, he took my brother and me to a public range in Germany. I think it was one of the very few that we had in our area, in our region, in Düsseldorf, and then I just created that love and that passion after a while. I was playing soccer for 12, 13 years, started when I was three years old, and then I quit when I was 15, 16 because golf became so important to me.
Golf has changed me as a person, as well, a little bit. I learned a lot about respect, about values in life, to be honest with yourself because you’re the only person pretty much who can give yourself a penalty if you do something that somebody hasn’t seen that you’re playing with. So those things, they were very important to me, and everything started 15 years ago.
So my dad, he introduced my brother and me to golf.