Valhalla experience inspires Kaymer

Martin Kaymer has already experienced the course at Valhalla

Martin Kaymer has already experienced the course at Valhalla

First published in National Sport © by

Nick Faldo's captaincy came in for heavy criticism when Europe lost the Ryder Cup for the only time this century at Valhalla in 2008.

But one of the six-time major winner's ideas could turn out to be a master-stroke for US Open champion Martin Kaymer in this week's US PGA Championship.

Kaymer missed out on qualifying for the team by just £36,000 six years ago and was not given one of Faldo's two wild cards, but was one of three players invited to Valhalla to gain experience of the biennial contest.

English duo Ross Fisher and Nick Dougherty turned down the opportunity but Kaymer took up the offer - by doing so he was Europe's first reserve until play got under way - and believes it played a major part in the next stage of his career.

"It was not a very good week for us, we lost by quite a bit," Kaymer told Press Association Sport. "So far the Europeans haven't been that successful there but I will get there on Monday, play a few practice rounds and hopefully play well.

"I was the only one who went in 2008 and for me it was a great experience to see if I could handle the situation one day. It was a really nice inspiration and huge motivation for the next couple of years to make the team.

"Fortunately I won the PGA in 2010 and made the team. It was very, very nice of him (Faldo) and I hope that the future captains do the same thing because I know how much it helped me, how much motivation it was."

Having won twice in 2008, including in a play-off for the BMW International in his native Germany, Kaymer claimed two more European Tour titles in 2009 and then four in a stellar 2010 that saw him secure a first major title in the US PGA at Whistling Straits.

That play-off win over Bubba Watson came as something of a shock to Kaymer, who was equally unprepared to cope with becoming world number one six months later.

A fourth consecutive missed cut at the Masters contributed to his spell at the summit lasting just eight weeks, but also prompted changes to his swing to cope with the demands of Augusta National, where a draw is more useful than Kaymer's favoured fade.

What followed was hardly a dramatic slump, with a first World Golf Championship event won with a closing 63 in Shanghai later that year, but Kaymer did not win a full-field event in 2012 or 2013.

By the time of his Ryder Cup heroics at Medinah in September 2012, Kaymer admitted he would not have picked himself for the team, but having qualified automatically he had little choice and played just once before Sunday's decisive singles.

Earlier this year he entered the Players Championship ranked 61st in the world, only to card a course record-equalling 63 in the first round on his way to a wire-to-wire victory.

And just five weeks later he again led from start to finish in the US Open at Pinehurst, winning by eight shots after equalling the lowest halfway total (130) in major championship history with consecutive rounds of 65.

"I'm very happy, I don't need to think much, I can just play golf," Kaymer said ahead of his return to Valhalla. "Any shot I need to hit I do it; sometimes you pull it off, sometimes it doesn't work out, but I just need to work a little more on the short game. When I get this going I can shoot low scores."

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