GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - A few sage words of advice from 2004 European captain Bernhard Langer helped Martin Kaymer get used to life in the Ryder Cup “jungle” after a jittery debut, the U.S. Open champion said on Thursday.
The young German told a news conference that he was taken aback when he first experienced the electric atmosphere and hurly-burly of the biennial match against the United States at Celtic Manor in Wales in 2010.
“Standing on the first tee it was very intimidating for me,” said Kaymer on the eve of the 40th Ryder Cup at Gleneagles. “It was too much, I couldn’t really handle the whole situation.
“I don’t know how to explain it but it was like playing in the jungle a little bit.
“In 2012 I had a very nice conversation with Bernhard and the moral of the talk was, at the end of the day it’s just you, the golf ball and the golf course that you have to play. If the people weren’t there, that’s it, it’s pretty simple.”
Langer’s chat with his fellow German yielded instant dividends when Kaymer holed a knee-trembling, six-foot putt to retain the trophy for Europe at Medinah two years ago.
“We talked about, imagine now if you can use the thousands of people for yourself in a positive way, that they carry you, there’s nothing negative about it,” added Kaymer.
“I didn’t think that clear in 2010, now it’s a little bit different. You can use it to raise your game.”
Kaymer certainly raised his game at Medinah, at a time when the 2010 U.S. PGA champion had suffered a major dip in form.
The clarity of thought he showed, however, when confronted by his do-or-die putt on the 18th green against Steve Stricker was an example of German efficiency at its best.
“I don’t want it to sound too arrogant but I never had a doubt in my mind that I would miss, it never even crossed my mind,” said Kaymer.
“I was trying to explain it to a good friend of mine and he had no idea what I was talking about because it’s one of those things that you don’t have a choice of missing — it’s not an option.
“I knew exactly what I needed to do, I knew exactly what the line was, the only thing that you need to do is, do it. It’s quite nice to get to know yourself in a way like that because I was not afraid of failure.
“I think a lot of guys, and you see it in different sports as well, sometimes they are afraid of winning because it’s a different situation, it can be uncomfortable. For me, it was a nice situation.”
Editing by Pritha Sarkar