Martin Kaymer: Round One Interview Room

Thursday, June 12, 2014

THE MODERATOR: Welcome to the 2014 U.S. Open Championship at Pinehurst Resort and Golf Country Club. It's our pleasure to welcome this afternoon Martin Kaymer of Germany who opened with a 5-under 65 today. That 65 is the lowest round in a U.S. Open at Pinehurst. The previous low was a 66 in 2005 by Peter Hedblom. Martin recorded six birdies and bogey in route to the first round 65 today. Can you talk a little bit about the conditions in your first round?

MARTIN KAYMER: It was very playable. As I said earlier, I watched some golf in the morning and I think it was the Stenson group that I watched and he was hitting a 6-iron to that par-3 on 15 and the ball didn't release much, like two or three yards maybe. And it was not really possibly on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, even though I played in the morning, it was very firm already. So they must have softened the greens a little bit and therefore it's quite nice when you play late on Thursday, that you can watch some golf in the morning and try to adjust mentally because you know going into the first round. Last night I thought that it's going to be very, very firm in the afternoon, you have to -- just the front of the green really matters that you can let it bounce into the green. But actually it was more playable than I thought. I think that made a big difference mentally that you feel like that there are actually some birdies out there, not only bogeys.

THE MODERATOR: You started with a birdie on the first. How important is it to get off to that very good start right away?

MARTIN KAYMER: I'll take it. It didn't make a huge difference, obviously it's nice to start well, but everybody knows how difficult it is to keep that momentum going in a U.S. Open. You will make a couple bogeys here and there; it will happen. So to start off with a birdie, it's nice, but I think mentally it doesn't make a huge difference, at least not for me, because the U.S. Open is just about playing the next hole, okay, I forget about it, and then the next hole, forget about it. You can't really think about the positives, really, too much and too much about the negatives, because it's too much to think about.

THE MODERATOR: Open it up for questions.

Q. How would you say you've evolved as a player since you won the PGA and rose to No. 1 in the World Rankings?
MARTIN KAYMER: Since PLAYERS?

Q. Since the PGA Championship and rising to No. 1.
MARTIN KAYMER: THE PLAYERS gave me a different status as a golf professional. A lot of respect from people, a lot of respect from the players, a lot of satisfaction for myself that I -- obviously, it's a career goal. When you're very young, when you're 23, 24, you're coming out here, it's a career goal to win a Major. And I got it done fairly early. You just grow a lot as a person with the things that come with it, not really the win, more like that what happens outside the golf course, obviously sitting here, doing interviews, a lot more than if you wouldn't have won the PGA. So you learn a lot yourself and that makes you more mature and it takes some time to get used to that change. Because you change all the time, obviously, but that change is quite dramatic. It takes a lot more time than you thought. But it's all good once you have enough time to reflect and realize.

Q. We saw you at Sawgrass where you played very -- looked like you weren't thinking too much. You were very flowing in your swing. You hit the putts the way you wanted to hit them. Today it looked very similar that there was -- once you had it in your mind what you wanted to do, you just did it. You just hit it where you wanted to hit it. How much of that is a byproduct of winning THE PLAYERS and how much of it is that you're comfortable maybe here at this venue?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, it's all about the confidence. You stand over a ball and -- for example, today, on 17, I needed a high draw to get it to that flag, to hit it close. You can always go to the middle of the green and try to make your 2-putts and make 3, but I really wanted to get it close to the hole because I thought I had a good yard and I tried to hit a high draw and I hit a perfect shot. So if that's the plan, to hit that high draw and you do it, it only adds confidence. That's the right way to play golf, I think. When you hit a bad shot, let's say if I would have pushed that 6-iron to the front bunker, at least I tried it. I think that's the way forward how you want to play golf. And when you hit those good shots, it adds a lot of confidence. At the PLAYERS, I tried to hit a lot of times the right shot, and it worked out 90 percent well for me. Today the same. I just tried to hit the right shots and if it happens that I make a good swing, then it's in a good position. If not, then I can live with it as well.

Q. What about this layout? Are you comfortable here?
MARTIN KAYMER: It plays a little bit like a tournament somewhere in Australia, little linksy style, you know, and the golf course gets only firmer and faster. So I think that therefore, it should become a little bit shorter which doesn't mean it's easier. Because you think greens are going to get firmer, so it will equal out. I like to play those kind of golf courses, which is, on the other hand, when usually you should only go for middle of the green here, which is very smart, it's the way to play smart, but only when the greens are firm. Today it was different, you could go for a few flags. But I liked the way the golf course played today.

Q. Do you think that even par or something around there still wins this tournament? And if you do, do you?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, yesterday I got asked after the 18th hole what score I would take on Sunday afternoon and I said plus 8 because the way the golf course played on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. But obviously they softened the conditions a little bit, so it was more playable. So hopefully I'm not right with the plus 8. I would be disappointed. But the first round, 5-under par is exceptional. Like at the PLAYERS, the 9-under par is not normal. So no one really should expect me to shoot another 5-under par the next three rounds. I don't. So tomorrow they're going to be new pins, they're going to be new layout that they might put the tee boxes back. I play in the morning, so it's going to be a completely different day and different conditions tomorrow.

Q. When you have an exceptional round, as you said, as it gets firmer and faster as the week goes on, does it make bogeys or mistakes a little easier to accept?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, even today I said to my caddie, on 15, when I hit a pure 6-iron, behind the green, I said, you know, it was a good golf shot, if I make four here, I can live with it. It's fine. You will make bogeys, even with good shots. Once in a while here you will make bogeys with bad shots, and for me it's okay to accept it. It's a very, very difficult golf course. It's a very difficult test. You can't approach one of those tournaments the way you approach a regular European or PGA TOUR event.

Q. When you're watching Henrik Stenson play this morning and it's so soft and wet, are you thinking that 65 is out there and were you surprised that it wasn't put up in the morning?
MARTIN KAYMER: No. You know what I said, 65, it's a very, very good round. I saw the other German guy after his round and he shot level par, and I thought I would take that. Because it's a tough golf course. I just played really well today. I just didn't make many mistakes, I hit a lot of fairways, I hit a lot of greens, so that was really nice. But, again, I just had a very good day on the golf course.

Q. Are you still riding any momentum from your PLAYERS championship victory?
MARTIN KAYMER: From the PLAYERS? No, I took the last two weeks off, I didn't play golf at all. To realize and to try to reflect what really happened at the PLAYERS. It was kind of like an opening for me. It really changed things. I've been playing very well since the Masters and I put myself into the Top-20, which was always okay. Therefore, slowly I gained some confidence and then all of a sudden you win THE PLAYERS, one of the biggest tournaments. It's a big, big relief, that now you can start playing golf again and don't need to think too much. The pressure from all the media, the social media and all that stuff, which was kind of like annoying sometimes, because you can't avoid listening to it or reading it. The outside, they put a lot of pressure on you. And at the end of the day, obviously it's up to yourself, if you let it get to you or not. But you have to be very, very strong to really don't care. I care about it, I read it once in a while, and therefore it was quite nice to get that out of here, the pressure and all the negativity from some people and the expectations. So it was quite nice and that obviously helps a lot for you as a person but more as a golf player.

Q. I know you said that this reminded you of Australia, but in any way did it remind you of Whistling Straights?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, with all respect, it's not as pretty as Whistling Straights. There's more water at Whistling Straits. The layout, yeah, I see your point. But Whistling Straits was, I thought, a little bit more playable in the way of you can hit a lot of drivers and it was more open, the greens were a lot different. But there are some similarities. But it's just very, very difficult to hit the greens here. It's all about the distance control with those mid and short irons, so it's a tough track. I thought Whistling Straits was more playable than Pinehurst.

Q. You can ground your club more?
MARTIN KAYMER: I could ground my club, yeah, that's true. But that was someone else. (Laughter.)

Q. You're very calm, collected, analytical, but you just posted a record low score at Pinehurst in the U.S. Open. Is there any part of the little kid that remains in you that is pretty stoked about that and can you put into words at any point when you realized that you were taking it that low?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, first, I would have never expected myself to shoot such a low round in Pinehurst because of the conditions, but it's a good round of golf. I wasn't expecting it, I'm not freaking out about it, it's the first round of a very, very important tournament. I try to win as many Majors in my career as possible. I won one so far, I put myself so far in a good position, but we have three rounds to go. There's so much golf to play. The golf course will change a lot; you have to adjust a lot more. So that first round is a good start, but that's it. There's nothing more than that. If other people want to make more out of it, it's fine, but for me it's a great start into one of the most important weeks of the year.

Q. Even though it's been some time ago, and it was only one round, how significant in turning things back the right direction was that Sunday at Medinah for you?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, in going to the Ryder Cup, I didn't play good golf at all. I wouldn't have put myself on the team. I just qualified, that's why I was on the team, but I would have never deserved a wild card. So I really wanted to prove to myself that I can do something for the team, because I let Justin Rose -- I played with him. On Friday, I really couldn't help him much. Obviously, on his record it's a loss as well. So you don't really want to do that, you don't want to feel like that. For me it was very, very important to accomplish something at Medinah and I just got in a very lucky position that I could make something really, really big happen for my career, for Europe, for my country, and I think a lot of people don't realize that it can change a career, things like this. If you think about it in the negative way and think about if I would have missed the putt, it could break an athlete. So I'm very happy I didn't think about it while I was standing over that putt, but it's quite important to realize both sides. I experienced a positive, but what would have happened if you experience a negative. So after awhile now I can think about it and it makes me feel okay. Otherwise, you know, maybe just after the Ryder Cup, it would have been too much. So Medinah made a very big difference for me in the way of confidence that I can make those important putts when it really matters.

Q. You mentioned the negative tension getting to you at points in your career. I was curious if could you point to a moment or a negative story about you that sort of speaks to that, that was most impactful.
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, it's not really one specific thing, it's just that you read over and over again in newspapers, on Facebook, on all those golf web sites that is he ever going to come back? Is he a one-hit wonder with a Major win? You know, those things, it's not nice to read, but I can understand why people think like this. It's quite normal. Which was just very nice for me that I knew deep inside that I never really doubted anything of what I'm doing. Other people probably did, and I can understand why they did, because there was not much success after I became the No. 1 in the world. So it was understandable for me, but at the same time it was quite funny, because I knew that it's just crap, you know. It's just -- so I was very secure about myself. I knew what I am doing, I had a lot of trust in the people that I work with, and there was never any stress. It was just very interesting what other people make out of it. So I was very fortunate to be in that position to experience that, the highs and lows. I'm sure there are going to be other lows in my career at one stage, but for me it's a lot more I can accept it a lot better.

THE MODERATOR: Focusing on highs right now, would you take us through your round today, the birdie and bogeys, yardages and clubs.

MARTIN KAYMER: I left my yardage book out there. The first hole -- let's see, the first hole, I hit a gap wedge, I hit it to probably three or four feet. The par-5, I hit a beautiful high cut with a 3-wood to 18, 20 feet. 2-putted that. The negative, too? The bogey?

Q. We are negative, yes.
MARTIN KAYMER: I pulled the 8-iron next to the green, but I couldn't make the up-and-down. It was actually not that difficult, but I think I took the wrong club to putt it, I should have chipped it. 10, hit good tee shot, good second, put myself there with a gap wedge to 85 yards. No, a lob wedge to 85 yards. Hit to two feet, made the putt. 14, what was 14 again? I pulled the drive a little, which was quite nice because it gave me a few more yards. Then I hit a lob wedge from 120 yards. I squeezed it a little bit to three feet, made the putt. 16, hit a lovely 3-wood draw around the corner. 6-iron on to the green. Made the putt there from 10, 12 feet. 17, we talked about that high draw, 6-iron. Made the putt from probably 10 feet and there you go.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

Q. What's the German word for crap?
MARTIN KAYMER: You don't want to know.

THE MODERATOR: Martin thank you very much. Again a wonderful first round at the U.S. Open.

MARTIN KAYMER: Thank you.
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Leaders
PosPlayerTo ParThruToday
1KAYMER, Martin-9F-1
T2COMPTON, Erik-1F+2
T2FOWLER, Rickie-1F+2
T4BRADLEY, Keegan+1F-3
T4DAY, Jason+1F-2
T4KOEPKA, Brooks+1F+1
T4JOHNSON, Dustin+1F+3
T4STENSON, Henrik+1F+3
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