Martin Kaymer: Round Four Interview Room
BETH MAJOR: It is my pleasure to welcome the 2014 U.S. Open champion, Martin Kaymer. Martin, congratulations. Can you just give us a quick initial reaction on become the 114th U.S. Open champion?
MARTIN KAYMER: It is very tough right now to reflect on the week. I think I played really, really well on Thursday and Friday and that gave me a really nice cushion. I said to Craig, to my caddie this morning, that this moment will be very, very difficult, probably the toughest round we ever played because of all the expectations that you have on yourself, other people have. I'm sure Craig had the expectations, as well. So it's very difficult to go through that, playing on a different continent. So to sit here now with the U.S. Open trophy is tough for me to say. I'm very happy. And everything, you know, the people who were here this week, my brother finally is here, when I could win a golf tournament. So, yeah, it's a very, very nice and very satisfying feeling.
BETH MAJOR: Today Martin put the finishing touch on an amazing four rounds at Pinehurst Resort and Country Club's No. 2 course, with a 1-under 69. It was his third subpar round of the championship and he finished at 9-under, 271. The 72-hole total of 271 is the second lowest in U.S. Open history, second only to Rory McIlroy 268 in 2011. And the 8-stroke victory is the fourth largest margin of victory in U.S. Open history. In addition, Martin becomes the 8th U.S. Open champion to start to finish lead with no ties. Finally, he becomes the first German and the first from continental Europe to capture the U.S. Open championship and is the 34th foreign born champion. Again, congratulations on your fine play.
Q. What does it mean to you to win this Major? And how hard was it not to think about what it would mean to you to win this Major during the final round?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, any Major would have been nice, after the PGA. You want to win Majors in your career, but if you can win one more, it means so much more. What I said the other day, that some people, especially when I went through that low, called me the one hit wonder and those things. So it's quite nice proof, even though I don't feel like I need to prove a lot of people, but somehow it's quite satisfying to have two under your belt. And I'm only 29 years old, so I hope I have another few years ahead of me. But the challenge was not to think too much about that trophy, not to think too much about sitting here now, about what you're going to say. Not too much thinking about how you might celebrate on 18 and those things, you know. It goes through your head, and I'm sure a lot of players feel the same way. Not many talk about it, but it is what it is. We do think about it. We are humans, and we're not robots. So it was a tough challenge approaching today. A lot of emotions involved, a lot of expectations, and that's what I said to Craig. Overall, the whole day will be very, very difficult. And him being so relaxed and so positive and open, me being more focused and very strict on things, it was a good combination. And that is what I needed. So without Craig, it would have been a lot more difficult today.
Q. Since you last won the PGA in 2010, there's been a lot of focus on young players and maybe more high profile Rory McIlroy or Jordan Spieth, people talking about young players. Do you feel you've kind of been a little under the radar in that conversation, and how does that change that?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, I think I deserved to be under the radar because I didn't play as good as they did. I think the way Rory played the last few years, you know, when he became No. 1 in the world, the way he handled everything around him, off the golf course, I think he did it very well. And Jordan, he's just a very, very nice person, very nice kid who's playing very good golf. And hopefully he can move forward and become even better and get more experience, and therefore win golf tournaments. And I hope that he will win Majors, as well. Because, you know, that is what the PGA TOUR, what golf needs, those guys. Nice characters, good personalities, that is what we need. And that is what people look up to.
MARTIN KAYMER: For me it hasn't changed at all, really. I was looking forward to competing against them for the next few years, because at one stage after my adjustments that I did and I talked way, way too much about it, I was really looking forward to competing against them and to see, you know, who has the stronger and better nerves coming down the last five, six holes in big tournaments. So that is what everybody can look forward to. And obviously we have some players who have -- who are a little bit more experienced out here, like you have Tiger, Phil and those guys. And then you have a different players that are 10, 12 years younger. So it's quite a nice -- how you say it -- like it's very wide. So much happening in golf right now. So it's a lot to look forward to.
Q. You said you thought today would be very difficult. Did at any point it feel difficult and did you feel like the people behind you were perhaps getting too close? When did you allow yourself to think I do have this thing wrapped up?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, the pressure was there from the first tee. I would lie if I wouldn't have felt pressure or if I wouldn't have been nervous. Of course you're nervous when you're leading a Major championship. You can't tell me that you are calm. But you already know how the day starts. And the day didn't start very well for me yesterday. But it was not a bad thing, looking back, how it brought me back a little bit to normality. The first two days, it was not normal to shoot 10-under par, and I thought it can easily happen today again. When you lead such a big tournament with five shots, it's very, very difficult to keep going. And therefore it was very nice that I could make some solid shots the first five, six holes, and I was 1-under par, so I was in control. And that was the most important thing for me to stay in control of the golf tournament.
Q. Congratulations. How much of a help was it that you went wire to wire at THE PLAYERS Championship and just going through that experience of four days of leading a big tournament? And secondly, what does this do for you in the future having such a dominant win in terms of how you view future Major championships?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, first, the first question, it's very, very exhausting. It's very tiring because you have to speak a lot. You have to do a lot of interviews. You have to answer a lot of questions. And people bring thoughts into your head. So it's very difficult to handle all that from the first day on. Sometimes, on moving day, when you move forward and you're in the lead, then you start answering those questions. But I need to do that at The PLAYERS on Thursday already and this week on Thursday already. So it's very exhausting. So the main thing is that you always try to stay calm and focus on the main thing. And the main thing is really trying to challenge yourself and play your golf and play against the golf course and not too much against the other players. Second question --
Q. How does this fit you for the future, by the nature of the win that you've achieved?
MARTIN KAYMER: I mean, it's quite nice to see the differences between the PLAYERS in this week. The PLAYERS, I was in the lead and I lost it. And the way I won. So that was a huge, huge thing for me, the way I won that golf tournament. And I realized another week, maybe two weeks later, what I have done today, the way I kept it together and never really -- I think, Erik, he was once close by four. And I kept going, you know. I made birdies. And I made a mistake on 10, I made bogey, but it was still okay. I was still in control. So those two -- the way I won those two tournaments in a complete different fashion, you know, again, it makes you grow as a person and as a golf player that you know you can handle a lot of different circumstances.
Q. How important was the idea of putting from off the greens and how well that paid off for you. Secondly --
MARTIN KAYMER: Sorry, what?
Q. How important was your strategy of putting from off the greens, and how that paid off for you? Secondly, now that you've won the U.S. Open, what is your prediction for the USA-Germany game?
MARTIN KAYMER: US-Germany. You have two Germans on your team, you have a German coach, and he has been very successful with our team in 2006. So I think you are a little bit the underdog, you're not as bad as people make you. USA, I wouldn't say you guys have a chance to win the World Cup, but I think it's not normal or it's not a given for Germany. But I still -- my bet would be 3-1 for Germany. So the first question, you know, I said to my caddie when we played the practice rounds, I like that you have a lot of options here. You can take a 3-wood or a rescue. You can chip with a lob wedge, gap wedge or you can putt it. Through any experience from the British Open, I've always done fairly well to putt off the green. And I think a bad putt like this is still better than a bad chip, especially with the runoffs. When you hit one fat, you are pretty much in the same spot again. If I hit a bad putt, I still have a chance to make pour four. My putting within ten feet this week still good. I thought if I could get it within that 10-, 8-feet circle, I have a very good chance to save par. You don't really make worse than bogey, and that's very important, I think, in Majors.
BETH MAJOR: We're hoping not for an 8-stroke victory for Germany tomorrow, as well.
MARTIN KAYMER: I was texting with one player the other day, and he said -- it was on Friday evening, and he said, "Very well done so far. The whole national team wishes you all the best for the weekend." I said, "Well, it's only halftime." He said, "Well, I would take that lead at halftime against Portugal." So if they were to score eight times, obviously it's fairly unrealistic, but the most important thing is that they win. If it's only one, that's okay.
Q. As you know, this is a resort course. It looks like a really hard golf course, would you come here and pay to play with your buddies?
MARTIN KAYMER: I hope I can play for free now (laughter). I don't pay if I come here. I would pay for my guests, but I hope I can get for free in here.
Q. Can you tell us why you undertook the swing change and what that evolution was like?
MARTIN KAYMER: Why I did that?
MARTIN KAYMER: I've answered that question so many times. Honestly, I get tired of it, I'm sorry. But I just want to become a complete player, that's it.
Q. Congratulations. A really different looking course than what you're used to in America. What were your impressions of No. 2 esthetically? Would you like to see more setups like this for U.S. Opens, where you have these native areas and not the thick, six-inch rough?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, it's difficult to generalize, you know, depends on how the architect builds the golf course. And what I've heard the guy, or let's say, the staff of Pinehurst, they created and the architect, he created the way we played it this week. And you know if it happens and we play the U.S. Open here, we should go with how the golf course is supposed to play. Other U.S. Opens that I have played, it was pretty much the same. Your long holes, thick rough, very tight fairways. I think it depends on the golf course. Wherever you play, you should go with how the golf course is supposed to be played. And this week, when I said earlier in the week, reminded me a little bit of playing in Australia on links golf courses, or the British Open with good weather, great weather. I enjoyed the way it played, because that's the way it was supposed to be played.
Q. Rickie gets a lot of attention for his outfits. But how would you describe him as a competitor?
MARTIN KAYMER: Very aggressive. Very brave. Just a solid player. He doesn't make many mistakes mentally. He doesn't make many mistakes strategy-wise. Today he hit some -- he hit a couple of bad shots and that put him into some bad positions, but he saved it very well. And on 4, when he made double bogey, he came back with a birdie the next hole. So he's a very strong player. And the way he made par on 16, it was very good. You know, I hit two good shots and I made 5. And he hit one shocking shot and two good ones and he made 4. But that's important as a player that you don't care always how well you have to hit some golf shots, as long as you get it done. And he got it done very well. I was just hoping for him that he makes birdie on 18, because I think he really deserved to finish second here.
Q. Do you feel like you're better prepared to handle all the attention that comes with being a Major champion than you were four years ago?
MARTIN KAYMER: Four years ago I didn't know what's happening, you know. I was surprised. I was not expecting myself to win a Major at 25. I was surprised about my performance. I was surprised about a lot of things. I couldn't handle a lot of things that happened in Germany, all the attention that I could get. And then becoming No. 1 in the world, that added another thing. And it was too much. It was just, you know, to be completely honest, it was very difficult to handle everything and to play good golf. So right now I am okay with talking to you in a very calm, normal, relaxed way, as if we were having a normal conversation. In the past, I always think I have to say something special and something that might be interesting. Now I just talk and it's a lot more -- it's a lot easier for me.
Q. You putted sensationally this week. Are you surprised at how well you putted and did you make any special preparation or strategy for putting, as you prepared for the event?
MARTIN KAYMER: No, I didn't prepare, really, for Pinehurst, you know. I don't really try to prepare for only one tournament. I try to prepare long-term. And I was playing very well, I knew that, especially after winning the PLAYERS. It was quite nice, playing well, getting that confidence, and putting, I really enjoyed the greens. I really had fun on the greens because you could be very creative around the greens and you could play with all the slopes. So it's really fun for me to play. I got really confident. After the first day, I had a couple of testers early in the round, like the first nine on Thursday morning -- or I played in the afternoon, so Thursday afternoon. I could make those putts, so it gave me a lot of confidence. I had a good stroke. I didn't struggle much on the greens on Thursday and Friday; therefore, it was quite nice knowing that you putt well, you just have to let it happen on the weekend and everything will be fine. So there was not one part of my game where I felt like I struggled with.
Q. Congratulations. How is the victory for golf in Germany?
MARTIN KAYMER: You know, for the first time, I think, I was on the German web page. It's a newspaper, and I was on the web page, and for the first time there was my name in like the short news. I was very surprised because golf is not as big as football. And especially now playing the World Cup, I thought it would be full of just football players and all the players and the coaches and all that stuff. So that meant a lot to me, knowing that there's more attention. And now, you know, bringing that trophy home, and my next tournament will be in Germany in Cologne, where I live, so I will make sure to take that trophy with me until I tee it off on Thursday morning and promote golf even more, because it's not exhausting for me anymore. At the beginning, when I just answered that question for Jason there, in 2010, it was too much for me and I just wanted to stay a little bit for myself and wanted to reflect on certain things first. But now it's a time where you can make golf bigger in Germany, and especially me winning two Majors now and qualifying for the Ryder Cup. So there's a lot to look forward to, with the Solheim Cup in Germany coming up. There's a lot of big things really that can happen in Germany the next few years.
Q. Yesterday you spoke about not going on the defensive. How did you avoid that and was that an internal struggle today?
MARTIN KAYMER: Well, that was the biggest thing, you know. I was talking to my brother before I went out on the golf course in the players lounge. And I talked to my manager about it this morning. I said, how can I find the way, not only saying, but you want to play forward or want to keep going, how do you want to really do it from the inside, and that it comes -- like it's a true feeling. A lot of people can say I want to keep going, I want to play aggressive. But then somehow you hold back. And how can I treat that feeling that is true. And my brother said, it's very easy, I don't need to tell you anything more, you know it all. You just have to let it happen. And it's that simple. You just have to do it. You have to convince yourself. You have to believe. You have to play brave. If you hit a bad shot, you hit a bad shot. But that's the way you want to play golf or at least the way I want to play golf. You want to go for the flags, if you have the right yardage. Just because you're leading by five or six shots doesn't mean you should play defensive. You have to do it, and I did it the first five or six holes and that kept me going all day. But it was very important to start off with that attitude.
Q. You were talking about how it can be exhausting sometimes if you have to come into the media room all four days in a tournament. And I think we've seen with other players that sometimes they begin to speak in shorter answers or speak in cliches to make it easier for them. You continue to come in and be very honest and open, which is great for us. And I wanted to get your perspective on that, why you keep doing that. That's basically it.
MARTIN KAYMER: I just explained. I want to explain that you understand. Otherwise people write something which is not true. And I'd rather take a minute longer to explain it properly what I mean than if you make something up. (Laughter). I like to be in control here.
Q. You come out today in the final round of the U.S. Open playing with very popular American player, and the crowd seemed to be encouraging Rickie out there. How much did your experience and success in the Ryder Cup the last time around help you in this situation today?
MARTIN KAYMER: Knowing that you've been there before. The PGA Championship was a different scenario, because it was a playoff and I didn't even think that I will get into the playoff playing 17, 18. But the Ryder Cup in 2012 was huge because I had to. There was no option. I had to deliver at that point. And today, again, I almost made myself to -- you have to win. And knowing that I've won big tournaments in the past, that other players who were behind me that they haven't won yet, and that experience gives you a lot of trust and a lot of belief. Something really bad has to happen that you will screw up. And I know with an attitude that I had that if I hit bad shots, with the right attitude, it's okay. I can accept it. But the funny thing is when you approach that day with the attitude you don't hit that many bad shots. So that was the key today.
Q. Did you ever imagine you would be in the final group of a Major and in the minutes warming up on the range you would be hitting balls next to a LPGA player?
MARTIN KAYMER: I did like it, though. Some of them are very pretty (laughter). There was actually one girl, I don't know, unfortunately, I don't know her name, but she had the putting tool on the putting green. I tried it. I asked her what it is, what's it for. I didn't mind. It relaxes the atmosphere a little bit. I'm sure a lot of guys out here enjoyed the view as much as we did. I didn't mind it.
Q. I was wondering, what aspect of your game did you feel helped you most to win this week?
MARTIN KAYMER: My irons. They were very solid. I didn't hit many bad iron shots. Of course, you hit a couple off line here and there, but I didn't make many mistakes with the irons. And even the long irons, today, you know, I hit a 2-iron into 16, because I played it fairly defensive, I played it smart. I didn't want to put myself in any bad position. And that 2-iron was a great high draw. A 2-iron it's not that easy, but I did it. And those things, they gain, subconsciously a lot of confidence. And the iron play was very, very solid this week.
Q. Did you ever have a moment this week where you thought about Hoylake, the shots you played here that might be similar to the shots you might play at Hoylake, the site of this year's British Open or Royal Liverpool?
MARTIN KAYMER: No, I haven't been there. I don't know the golf course. I'm sure it's going to be some kind of links golf course, but I have no idea. I just enjoy playing those courses the way we played this week. The way we played Whistling Straits. They're fast. There's not much room for error. You have to be very committed to tee shots to iron shots. You have to work your way around. It's a lot about feel. You have to think a lot about strategy, where you want to pitch the ball because it will release a little bit more. I enjoy playing those golf courses, and I'm sure Hoylake is not going to be different.
Q. You're the only one to have shot 65 here at Pinehurst. How do you compare those two rounds, one where it was fast, one where it was a little wetter? And also how do you compare it to the 59 you once shot?
MARTIN KAYMER: The two 65s, I thought were very similar. I didn't make many mistakes, I just played very good golf. It's tough to explain how everything worked out. I didn't make any mistakes and I played good golf. The 59 was -- it was a different golf course. To shoot 59 you need something easier than Pinehurst No. 2. But the way I played there was pretty much the same way I play or I try to play every week now, you know. Try to go for the targets, which doesn't always have to be the pin, if you play aggressive to some defensive areas. But just to play the game the way it's supposed to be played. But to shoot a 59, you need to make a lot of putts. And that day the golf course was not very difficult and I could make all those putts. And I didn't really realize, to be honest with you, that I had that putt for 59. If I would have known that, I think I was 21 years old, who knows if I would have made the putt if I would have realized it. But, again, that's another great thing that happened in my career.
Q. Sorry to talk about your difficult time again, but if you were weighing what was more attributable, was it the technical changes or was it the actual being No. 1 and all that that closed in on you might have been the thing that prolonged your difficult time? Would you say one or the other was the bigger factor?
MARTIN KAYMER: I didn't understand the question, sorry.
Q. In other words, when you were going through your slump --
MARTIN KAYMER: Contributed --
Q. Was it more -- was the reason because of your golf swing changes or because of the pressures and demands of being No. 1?
MARTIN KAYMER: I would say the combination. The swing improvements, there was one thing. I knew that I would struggle a little bit for a while, that I don't play every week, that I won't be in contention every week, I knew that. But the combination of both, you know, getting so much attention and then all of a sudden, you know, you don't win again. So why is that? So why do you change? So you have to answer all of those questions, and you don't want to answer those questions all the time. You answer them once or twice and then that should be enough. But people keep going and I keep answering and answering. Why do you change if you win a Major, you become No. 1 in the world. And it's annoying. You don't want to talk about that all the time. You want to focus on the main thing. And I don't always have patience to answer every time the same thing. So I think the combination of all that, that's -- that was difficult to do. And, you know, I don't want to be rude to people, so that's why I kept answering. But I want to say that's enough. I think we talked about it many times before and now I'm sitting here with the U.S. Open, so there's no change.
BETH MAJOR: We certainly appreciate how gracious you were this week with your time. It was a pleasure to have you here. It was certainly a pleasure to watch you play. Congratulations on winning the 2014 U.S. Open. Thanks everyone, we'll see you next week.
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