Martin Kaymer admitted he found it hard to adjust to the volatile Hazeltine atmosphere as the USA won the Ryder Cup.
In an exclusive interview with National Club Golfer, the German said abuse from some spectators of playing partner Sergio Garcia was “unnecessary” and added he was “surprised” by what he faced in Minnesota.
Kaymer, the hero at Medinah four years ago, beat Matt Kuchar in the Sunday singles but lost with Sergio Garcia in foursomes and fourballs and also tasted defeat with Danny Willett.
Both his playing partners came in for significant abuse from sections of the crowd and Kaymer said: “I was surprised with the atmosphere. I played with two players who aren’t necessarily the most popular in the USA.
“I played with Sergio Garcia who was heavily abused by the American fans, which was unnecessary. I’m not used to it and it was hard for me to adjust to.”
He also said his game didn’t set up well for Hazeltine, believes skipper Darren Clarke might have treated his rookies differently in hindsight and expressed his determination to be part of the European team that will try to win back the famous trophy in Paris in two years’ time…
What was different about this American team compared with the ones in your three previous Ryder Cups?
The main thing this time was the consistency of the US pairings. They didn’t seem to change much between sessions and stayed true to their strategy.
We seemed to change quite a bit – even Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose were split up. For me this was the main difference to the last Ryder Cups that I’ve been involved with: the Americans had their pairings going in, stuck to them and did a good job.
How much of a challenge was it to incorporate six rookies and get the balance of the pairings right?
It was certainly a challenge. Looking back, it might have been better for the rookies to have played more before Sunday’s singles, but the fact we were 4-0 down after the first session meant the pairings changed.
For example, Matthew Fitzpatrick only played one foursome so would have played maybe a total of nine holes by himself – a couple of shots and putts, so he had to tee up in his singles without fully experiencing the atmosphere before and not having much of a feeling for the course and greens. The same goes for Andy Sullivan and Chris Wood.
It was extremely hard for them to win their singles point because they weren’t able to gain experience on the course. At the end of the day it’s the captain’s decision and looking back I think he may have made some different decisions.
How impressive were Thomas Pieters and Rafa Cabrera-Bello?
The thing that struck me most during the week was their performance. I didn’t expect Rafa to perform to the level he did. I had a feeling he’d do well, but the way he raised his game to the occasion was fantastic.
Another thing that really stood out was the level of respect amongst all team mates. I’ve been in situations before where rookies have not handled being left out of matches which has contributed to a bad atmosphere, but this time there was a huge amount of respect. There was a very positive feeling in the team room.
How determined are you to be part of the European team that goes to Paris in two years’ time?
I was really disappointed that I wasn’t able to show my emotions at Hazeltine because the situation didn’t present itself to me.
My game didn’t set up for it and just overall the stage wasn’t there, which was really a pity for me. But that will be totally different in Paris when 80 percent of fans will be European.
If a player has an experience like I had at Medinah than you can see how important the Ryder Cup is to participate. It’s just so much fun, so I’m absolutely determined to be involved in 2018.
Can you reflect on the week for us?
I was surprised with the atmosphere. I played with two players who aren’t necessarily the most popular in the USA. I played with Sergio Garcia who was heavily abused by the American fans, which was unnecessary. I’m not used to it and it was hard for me to adjust to.
But in terms of the team atmosphere it was amazing. We got along really, really well and we had a great time together even after our loss on Sunday night.
Just from how everyone interacted with each other you could feel the importance of the Ryder Cup and what it means to take part.
That’s why I truly believe that over the next 15 to 20 years we will win more Ryder Cups than the American team.
Martin Kaymer is a Mercedes-Benz brand ambassador. Mercedes-Benz is Official Patron and Official Vehicle of The Ryder Cup 2016