Kaymer claimed a two-stroke victory in the 2012 showpiece at Sun City at the end of a memorable year in which he holed the key putt to secure Europe victory over America in the Ryder Cup.
Even though he beat South African Charl Schwartzel to the 2012 Nedbank Golf Challenge title, Kaymer remains a popular figure in South Africa. “I can’t believe how popular I am here,” he said last year. “A lot of people have been shaking my hand and welcoming me to South Africa. I’m surprised because that doesn’t happen very often to me. It’s nice to get welcomed like this.”
Kaymer’s victory at Sun City last year made for a German double when Bernhard Langer also won the Nedbank Champions Challenge.
“I felt more pressure than usual because everybody, even the German media, was talking about a German double after Bernhard won,” said Kaymer. “I’m very happy to have won because you look at all those great names on the bronze plaques on the walkway to the ninth green, and it’s nice to know mine is now on there as well.”
Since turning professional in 2005, Kaymer has claimed 19 victories worldwide, including the 2010 US PGA Championship for his only major to date. Early in 2011 he climbed to the number one position on the world ranking.
Distinctive and dominant. That’s how the Camelback Mountain in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert is described. It’s also an apt description for German golfer Martin Kaymer, who has recently taken to running up the mountain as he attempts to reach the peak of his game on the PGA Tour.
“It’s like therapy for me,” Kaymer says of his new hobby. “It’s so calming when you’re on top of the mountain. My mind is about golf. This is my passion, what I like to do, so I don’t really want to forget about it. But I’ve grown a lot as a person over the last two years. And being here more often means I get to know myself a lot more, what I want, and what makes me happy.”
Kaymer took up fulltime membership of the PGA Tour in 2013 and has based himself in the popular golfer’s enclave of Scottsdale, Arizona. And he’s still in the process of finding his place on the PGA Tour.
But his history in the game suggests that when he does, he’ll be unstoppable. After all, he missed the cut in six of his first seven tournaments during his rookie season on the European Tour in 2007. It started to turn for him in October of that year, when he finished seventh in the Portugal Masters, including a first round of 61, and then sixth in the Volvo Masters. He retained his card and became the first German to win the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year Award.
In 2008 Kaymer finished second behind Tiger Woods in the Dubai Desert Classic, and the golf world knew it had a new star on its hands. Kaymer won twice on the European Tour in 2008 and 2009.
In 2010, he made the step up to major champion when he won the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits, becoming only the second German after Bernhard Langer to win a major. The next year saw him climb to number one in the world, again following Langer to this accolade.
But arguably the greatest moment in Kaymer’s career to date came at Medinah in the 2012 Ryder Cup. The affable German stared down an eight-foot putt that would ensure Europe retained the Cup.
Of course, memories of the putt his countryman Langer had missed in the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island that cost Europe victory came flooding into his mind.
“I said to myself, ‘There’s no second doubt. Inside right, step up, make it’.”
“There will never ever be a more important putt in my life.”
Some would argue the first putt a 10-year-old Kaymer hit at the Mettmann Golf Club across the road from his home near Düsseldorf might rival it in importance, as it sparked one of the greatest talents in the modern game.
Born: 28 December 1984.
Turned pro: 2005.
Special interests: Football, basketball, go-karting.
Career highlights: In 2010 he won three tournaments on the European Tour and his first major, the PGA Championship. He finished the season as the European Tour’s number one. He earned €4.5-million in prize money over the season, beating the record Lee Westwood set the previous year. In 2007 became the first German to receive the sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award on the European Tour. Has been on the winning European Ryder Cup team in 2010 and 2012. In 2012 he holed the putt that ensured Europe would retain the Ryder Cup at Medinah.
2013 highlights: Took up full membership on the PGA Tour for the first time in his career and has had two top-10s there this season.
2013 Majors: The Masters – T35. The US Open – T59. The Open – T32. The PGA Championship – T33.
NGC record: 2011 – 8th. 2012 – 1.