Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Martin Kaymer secures a special comeback of his own

Bouncing Back: Martin Kaymer held his nerve to seal the win
MEDINAH, IL - SEPTEMBER 30: Rory McIlroy celebrates after Europe defeated the USA 14.5 to 13.5 to retain the Ryder Cup during the Singles Matches for The 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah Country Club on September 30, 2012 in Medinah, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
ROSEMONT, IL - SEPTEMBER 26: Justin Rose of Europe and his wife Kate Rose attend the 39th Ryder Cup Gala at Akoo Theatre at Rosemont on September 26, 2012 in Rosemont, Illinois. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

The huddle was almost Poulter-like in scale. A sea of outstretched arms bearing recording devices crashing against the dais to seek the testimony of the man whose putt sealed the Ryder Cup in Europe's favour.

There was plenty for Martin Kaymer to tell, not least how a fireside chat on Friday night with his idol and mentor Bernhard Langer had saved the hero of the hour from despair.

It has been a while since the world wanted to know Kaymer's thoughts.

The inexorable fall from the major-winning height of 2010 at the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits and his subsequent rise to the world No 1 ranking, was painful. There was a period around the start of last year when Kaymer couldn't miss. He was the Keegan Bradley of European golf.

Kaymer fiddled with his technique to turn a fade into a draw for the Masters at Augusta in April of 2011 and has barely been seen since. Until Sunday.

Nicolas Colsaerts apart, Kaymer arrived at Medinah the lowest ranked member of either team, three places higher than the Belgian at No 32. Kaymer qualified for the Ryder Cup in the 10th spot.

Had Ian Poulter not been assured of his place as a captain's pick he would have attended the final qualifying event in Europe, which in all likelihood would have dumped Kaymer out of the team.

Kaymer's form had been returning but slowly. He needed a big afternoon on the first day at Medinah to convince Jose Maria Olazabal that he had a significant role to play across the weekend.

A heavy fourball defeat to Matt Kuchar and Dustin Johnson playing alongside Justin Rose sucked the brittle confidence from his game and made him question the value of a Ryder Cup experience from which he was gaining nothing. He was already on the phone to Langer before he reached the team room.

“I sat down with Bernhard and talked to him a little bit about the Ryder Cup because my attitude wasn't the right one. But now, after that match against Steve [Stricker], I know how important the Ryder Cup became and is for Jose Maria Olazabal. Bernhard helped me so much by just sitting down with me and talking about it. He told me I must not hide away from the rest of the team just because I felt I was playing poorly.”

On the course, the 18th green was surrounded by a mass of faces frozen by tension.

His team-mates, the opposition, wives, girlfriends, family, everybody it seemed that he had ever known was peering through that window of time with eyes fixed on his back.

The same pressure squeezed Langer's putt wide. Kaymer imagined he saw a foot print across the line of his putt.

He can't recall the roll of the ball.

Only the sound it made hitting the back of the cup. The Ryder Cup was won and he was back at the heart of the narrative.

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