PUTTING in a hotel room and chipping on the beach. Martin Kaymer’s preparation for a major? No, actually. That’s how some of the German football players relaxed in between games as they became World Cup winners in Brazil.
It was a topic that dominated Kaymer’s visit to the media centre at Royal Liverpool yesterday and, in expert fashion, the US Open champion managed to relate just about every answer back to golf.
He spoke about the “values” that he was taught from an early age and were also evident as Joachim Löw’s men created history by becoming the first European team to be crowned as world champions on the other side of the Atlantic.
He reflected on the “amazing day” when Germany hammered hosts Brazil 7-1 and how he had enjoyed similar experiences in his career, including this year’s wins in the Players’ Championship and US Open.
It was fascinating stuff and the 29-year-old has certainly been inspired heading into this week’s Open Championship, an event he has failed to light up so far but fully intends doing so on this occasion.
“I watched the final with my caddie Craig [Connelly] in the house we’re staying in here and we were both very happy as he was on our side,” said Kaymer of his trusty Scottish bagman.
“It was probably the first moment in my career where I was very proud to be a German athlete. The planning was good, they played brave, they were grounded and they fought as a team.
“There were some similarities to golf in the final as well. Argentina made it tough so Germany played very patient. They didn’t try to force anything because they knew they were good enough. In the end, they delivered – and they did it in a very nice way.
“There was nothing secret about how they achieved it. They took their opportunities and didn’t make any silly mistakes. Every team has a bad day here and there and Germany didn’t play great against the United States. But they got away with it and that’s the same in a golf tournament. You have a day where you don’t play that super, but you hang in there so that you don’t go out of the tournament. Then you wait for that amazing day – the one they had against Brazil – to win it.
“At the US Open, I had two of those on the first two days (a brace of 65s to set up an eight-shot victory at Congressional last month) while my nine-under-par effort on the first day at The Players’ was another one.”
During the month-long tournament in Brazil, Kaymer, a keen football follower, received the occasional message from squad members. “Some of the players sent me some videos of them putting in the room and chipping on the beach,” he said.
Before the event kicked off, Thomas Müller, one of the players, said the squad had been inspired by Kaymer’s second major victory, which came on the eve of their opening game against Portugal – a thumping 4-0 win.
“One of the first things he said in an interview was, ‘It’s a very nice way to start the World Cup because Martin Kaymer has won the US Open’,” said the world No 12.
“That was a nice gesture and it was very helpful, too, because he likes golf and now every time I leave my house people recognise me. It wasn’t like that before the US Open.”
Bernhard Langer, another two-times major winner and still going strong on the Champions Tour, set the bar on the world stage for German golf. Kaymer could be about to raise that even higher over the coming few years and believes his success is all down core values.
“The values we learn in our country have helped me a lot on the golf course,” he said. “My parents taught me to be disciplined and respectful. Not just respectful to other people but also towards the sport we play. You also have to respect yourself for the effort you put in and I hope I can pass those values on to my children one day.
“Obviously, we have a few [people] that are lazy, like any other country, but when you tell us to do something, we get it done. If you build a house in Germany, it lasts 1,800 years. You can see the cars that we build.
“I changed my swing (after winning the USPGA Championship in 2010) because I know it will last in the long term. Pressure or no pressure, I can rely on it.”
He pointed to compatriot Dirk Nowitzki, who plays basketball for NBA side Dallas Mavericks, as typifying German fortitude. “He went to America with $800-$1,000 in his pocket in the late ’90s but he had the discipline and will to prove to his friends that he could do it,” noted Kaymer.
“There are a lot of players out here like that as well. A lot of the Asians are very disciplined, too. They don’t talk much; they just make things happen. I like that because at the end of the day it’s not about talking and always hoping and believing. It’s about the delivering and that’s what a lot of us Germans do – you can rely on us.”