x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

The understatement of intent

Martin Kaymer, with four European Tour titles and one major, says it will be hard to trump his 2010 season which sees him crowned Europe's No 1.

Martin Kaymer hopes to one day be the world No 1 following his Race to Dubai victory.
Martin Kaymer hopes to one day be the world No 1 following his Race to Dubai victory.

Understatedly at half past three yesterday, a pristine golfer with a pristine face unvisited by the aging process tapped in for par five on the 18th hole.

The gallery applauded. Ten golfers still navigated the course. The understated 25-year-old German golfer beamed and pumped his arms understatedly, hat in one hand, putter in the other.

The gallery made another appreciative swell.

The meandering, grinding, 12-month Race to Dubai did end here in Dubai as advertised, and it did end with one fan's considerable German flag planted off to the left as the same Martin Kaymer who chose golf over football about half his life ago had one meaningful embrace with his father off to the right.

"Very proud," he said and said and said thereafter, as a toiler once unimposing as a young junior finished No 1 on the 2010 European Tour and morphed from emerging big star to emerging bigger star.

With four European Tour titles, one major title (the PGA Championship), a gaping €564,000 (Dh 2.7million) win in the Race to Dubai and an in-the-clear final nine holes he found purely pleasurable, Kaymer constructed a 2010 that will make trumping it in 2011, well … "It's a tough one," he said in understatement.

So, having whooshed to the top on serene mettle - "He seems to have that steely Germany Langer/Schumacher/Vettel look about him," Lee Westwood said - Kaymer joined the gaudy season-winners' list alongside surnames such as Ballesteros, Faldo, Woosnam, Lyle, Langer, Montgomerie, Goosen, Els, Harrington, Rose, Karlsson and Westwood.

Having finished the Dubai World Championship in a snug eight-way tie for 13th place at six under par, the same score as his last Race to Dubai challenger Graeme McDowell, Kaymer began this phase, of course, behind a wall of television cameras.

As he handled that bilingually, the British Open champion Louis Oosthuizen intervened for a congratulatory handshake.

From there, en route to his press conference, Kaymer stopped briefly by his father, two years since the death of his mother, Rina. The two men eyed each other and Horst Kaymer smiled, raised a hand and gently patted the younger of his two sons on the side of his head.

How goes the world after a large win? It goes impatiently, so Kaymer fielded a cluster of questions about 2011, finally protesting: "But first of all, I need to realise what happened this year."

He will hone the short game at his second home in Arizona and he said: "I would like to prove that I'm Europe's No 1, take that challenge on again, win the Race To Dubai. It would be nice to win a major again, preferably the British Open, our only major that we have in Europe.

"And I never made a hole in one in my life."


"No, never, ever," he said.

All this success has come earlier in life than he imagined and so, churning quietly at No 3 in the world, he said: "Maybe one day I believe that I can become the No 1 in the world, too. I know that I can do it. But you know, I think it will take a while to really know that you can do it."

His father sitting all the while with a companion in the back of the room, Kaymer stopped for another interview, exited the tent door, signed for a small swarm of minors and walked to an adjacent golf hole from an adjacent course to settle down for a long German television interview with a reporter who already had hugged him.

And as he fielded more questions in a calm breeze on a sweeping empty golf hole next to hushed, unfinished houses, the Race to Dubai had met a tranquil end befitting Kaymer, the only din coming from over the tent at a jam-packed No 18 relishing Robert Karlsson's birdie.

An hour before he would reappear to hoist his humongous trophy, Kaymer's only witnesses included another frenetic swarm of pen-armed minors, some television reporters and one sponsor.

He stopped for all, smiling repeatedly and reservedly, posing with the sponsor as a photographer implored the two to shake hands, to redo the handshake and, "Just pop your hands in your pockets so you've got a nice, relaxed look."

Under a nearby tree and shaded from the late-afternoon sun stood Horst, a man whose wish that his sons pursue serious professions once gave Martin pause before intimating his own wish to pursue golf.

The elder Kaymer declines interviews, but suddenly he grinned goofily and waved his arms in an apparent bid to crack up Martin, an attempt at humour both successful and understated.