Martin Kaymer looks back on his days as the World No. 1 at the start of the decade and explains why it isn't everything that people make it out to be
It’s fair to say it’s been something of a mixed decade for Martin Kaymer. He began it by winning his first major and getting to World No. 1 and he’ll end it now not exempt for Augusta and the Open. At this year’s Open at Portrush he was the first reserve which meant that he had to sit around by the 1st tee until 4pm on the Thursday only to find out he could go home.
In between there was that putt at Medinah and, two years later, the Players win and one of the most impressive victories in a US Open, by eight shots, at Pinehurst No. 2.
These days, as he explains in his European Tour blog, a big thing is to try and be in the present moment.
“When I won the US Open by eight shots in 2014,” he writes, “that was a week when I was in the moment as much as I could possibly ever be. The whole week. And I know how I did it, so I need to find my way back to that. It was nothing to do with being good, it was a mindset.”
So when he looks back at his time as the best in the world he doesn’t just remember things the usual way, instead he presents a more balanced and interesting view of things.
“It’s obviously a very proud moment and an intimate thing for yourself,” he tells NCG. “It’s a real team effort to have got there but, at the end of the day, it’s just a title and a result next to your name, it doesn’t mean much as a person.
“It doesn’t make you a better or worse person. You can say that nobody on earth was better than me but it’s not as fulfilling as people think.”
And what of those around him, how differently was he treated when he was the top dog?
“There were not many people who treated me the same way other than my close family or friends,” Kaymer explains. “When you went to restaurants strangers want to talk to you and they want your energy.
“It was exhausting to be around people who are those energy vampires who suck every bit out of you and then leave you. They tell you all their issues and you have to pretend that you’re interested. Close friends give you that energy so I found that a tricky part of it.”
From the outside looking in the 34-year-old’s game doesn’t look too far away, for Kaymer he needs to get the off-course bits right to have a chance of adding to his 23 wins as a pro.
“My swing hasn’t changed much. My preparations have been a big distraction in the last few years as I’ve played so much in the States.
“For me mentally I need to think I can win that week and when I got to a tournament I was already at 60 per cent and then I had 40 left by Thursday or Friday. So I haven’t been happy with my energy levels and my whole planning. It was so exhausting.”