Interview with Martin Kaymer.
Question: Last year you brought back big jet lag from the US Open. How does it look now?
Martin Kaymer: It’s similar this year. I’ve been awake since three, half past three, I couldn’t sleep any more and I was just clock watching. Then I got up and went jogging for a little while. I was here at the driving range at six o’clock but it wasn’t open yet. Nevertheless, I found a piece of grass and got going. This is a very important tournament for me, particularly after last week, when my swing didn’t feel so good. That’s why my trainer Günter Kessler is also here. We were hitting balls for five, five and a half hours this morning.
Question: After the US Open you intimated that you had never ever played golf so badly.
Kaymer: I really didn’t play very well but I held the score together. That was important. Thursday and Friday were still okay. Saturday – I wouldn’t have liked to have been watching myself on television. On Sunday I was hitting more fairways, things went rather better in terms of quality, but it wasn’t how I really see myself. That’s why I called up Günter and that’s why I’m out on the driving range so early.
Question: Were you satisfied with your short game?
Kaymer: It was sensational. Chipping, pitching, putting – very good. If my short game hadn’t been on form, my score for the round could easily have landed in the 80 range.
Question: And your trainer is helping you now to get the rest on track?
Kaymer: I already talked to Günter on the phone yesterday to ask him what I should be working on. You see, he couldn’t get here so early. He wanted to come by car. When he got here, he checked out one or two things. Perhaps, we’ll work on a couple of aspects again tomorrow after the Pro-Am.
Question: You just said that the BMW International Open is very important for you. And of course you’ve got a lot of fans here. In 2008, you already won the tournament once.
Kaymer: It’s the only tournament that we still have in Germany. BMW is one of the most important sponsors on the tour. Winning here again would be a dream. I’d like to give the spectators something, hopefully in the last flight like 2008.
Question: You have a new caddie in Christian Donald. Coincidentally, he’s the brother of the number one listed in the world rankings, Luke Donald. Does this look like permanent cooperation?
Kaymer: He is outstanding at everything he does. He’s a genius when he’s reading the putt line. We are very positive about our cooperation. Let’s see how things go – we’ve given ourselves a trial period of three weeks until the British Open. But it’s looking very good, we’re getting on very well together.
Question: Let’s get back to your swing. Are you working on changes there?
Kaymer: Before the Masters we’d already modified the backswing. We made it a bit flatter so that I could play the draw with the woods. If we get that right, the rest is just detail.
Question: Are there any other problems that you’re working on?
Kaymer: They aren’t problems. They’re only things that I’d like to improve on. Of course, I was listed number one in the world rankings with my game. But I know that I can do even better. I’m not satisfied while I know that I can still play better golf. I can’t sleep peacefully and content at night if I know that.
Question: Europeans are listed in the first four places of the world ranking and suddenly Europeans are also winning one major after another.
Kaymer: Everything started with Padraig Harrington and his victories in majors during 2007 and 2008. That opened up our eyes to the fact that it wasn’t just Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson who could win majors. We could do it as well.
Question: Are there any other explanations?
Kaymer: Perhaps we train more than the Americans? I’ve no idea. Lots of people say it’s all about Tiger Woods. He’s simply the driving force motivating the Americans. But I prefer to think about us. Luke Donald, Lee Westwood – sensational, the game they play. And last week Rory McIlroy… I was there as well. 16 under par on the golf course – I can’t see it.
Question: The hype about you is understandably bigger here in Germany than for any other tournament. Everyone wants to have something from you. Does that bother you?
Kaymer: No. I do as much as I can. It’s the only German tournament. It would be good if we had something like a golf boom in Germany. And I think with me we’ve got a very good chance of achieving just that.
Question: Last season you were the pursuer. Now you’ve been right at the top, listed first in the world rankings and you’re the quarry being pursued. What are the differences?
Kaymer: My attitude has changed fundamentally. Since the victory at the US PGA Championship, I know that I can win every tournament. My belief and confidence in myself are growing. This is the biggest difference.
Question: Let’s talk about your change in caddie again. Your comments indicated that you weren’t satisfied with the work ethic of your old caddie.
Kaymer: No, that wasn’t the case. After a time, you get to a stage …, how can I put it. You aren’t really going forward. I need to have someone around carrying my bag who motivates me, who pushes me to do better. Somehow it was the same old thing every week. I simply needed new motivation. But he didn’t do a bad job, certainly not. We won a lot of tournaments together, the US PGA and then a few more after that.
Question: Could your brother also do the job over the long term, after all, he’s carried your bag a couple of times?
Kaymer: My brother would need a couple of months to gather the necessary experience. I think that he would be able to do the job. But that has never been an option so far. He’s finishing his degree right now, we’ll have to wait and see what he intends to do. Generally speaking, it’s important that personalities fit together.
Question: How was your trip here from the US Open?
Kaymer: Very enjoyable. We – seven players – were lucky enough to be able to use a BMW company jet.
We drank some wine for the first two hours, we laughed a lot – particularly with Miguel Ángel Jiménez on board. We talked about the US Open and
we celebrated Rory McIlroy’s victory. Then things gradually calmed down. I slept for three or four hours. As I said, it was very enjoyable.
Question: How do you assess the starter field of the BMW International
Open this year?
Kaymer: Dustin Johnson, for example, has come here specially from the USA. He asked me in advance what I thought of the tournament. What am I supposed to think of it? Naturally, it’s one of the big events as far as I’m concerned. It’s always had a very good starter field. My aim is always to win, to get back to number one in the world rankings list.
Question: Does the tournament mean even more for you, because you are now also an ambassador for the BMW brand?
Kaymer: That’s a privilege for me because BMW is a global brand. The commitment of BMW to sport in general and to our sport in particular is enormous. There are a lot of similarities between BMW and me. We are both striving for perfection and we work hard every day to make that aspiration come true. As I said, it’s a privilege to be associated with this brand.
Question: Starting next year, the venue for the tournament will alternate between Eichenried and Cologne-Pulheim. What do you think about this decision?
Kaymer: On the one hand, it’s very good. In future, I’ll be able to sleep in my own bed, and my family and friends will be there. On the other hand, I would miss the people here if the tournament were only held in Cologne. As far as I’m concerned, the combination of both is the best of both worlds – perfect.