“I’ve got to know the culture more, me living in Arizona, so I feel comfortable.” — Martin Kaymer in 2013, on his decision to join the PGA Tour full-time
Biography: German Pro Golfer
On 27 February 2011, Martin Kaymer became the number one ranked golfer in the world. For eight weeks.
The German pro held his top perch in golf for about two months – ahead of second place English golfer Lee Westwood, the man he had knocked from the top spot. By early April, Kaymer was still first, while the much more famous Tiger Woods was in seventh place. Woods held the number one spot for more than five years. He reigned for 281 weeks in a row, 623 in all. In the 24-year-history of the rankings no other golfer has even come close to that, but Martin Kaymer, only 27, would like to. As of 3 April 2011, Kaymer was in his 6th week in the top spot. But just five days later, with his failure to make the cut at Augusta, the German golfer risked giving up his No. 1 spot, and Tiger Woods came from behind that same day.
Kaymer’s 2014 Comeback
2016 and 2015 have not been as kind to Kaymer as 2014. As of May 25, 2015, he was ranked 16th in the world (after tying for 18th at the BMW PGA Championship). A year later, in May 2016 (before the Players), he was 59th. With his stunning U.S. Open victory on June 15, 2014, and his dramatic PGA Tour win at the Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida on May 11, 2014, Martin Kaymer had ended a long slump in his golf career and climbed to 11th place. 2015 and 2016 found him going in the wrong direction. The German golfer also lost his PGA Tour card in 2015-2016, not having made the minimum number of starts in 2014-2015, Kaymer will not be a PGA Tour member in 2015-2016. He will not be eligible to earn FedExCup points or participate in the Playoffs. Kaymer is allowed to play a maximum of 12 events as a non-member. After sitting next season out as a Tour member, the 2014 U.S. Open champ can continue as a member in 2016-17 under his multi-year exemption. He is still a member of his home European Tour.
It was the fourth time that the Masters has been a curse for Kaymer. On 24 April 2011, Kaymer gave his number-one ranking back to Lee Westwood after Westwood won the Indonesian Masters. In August 2011 at the PGA Championship in Atlanta, Georgia (Johns Creek), Kaymer again had something in common with Tiger Woods: Both missed the cut. After winning his first WGC title (and the $833,333 first place prize) at the WGC-HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai, China in November 2011, Kaymer was ranked fourth in the world.
Back in 2008 Kaymer won the BMW International Open in Munich, becoming the first German ever to win that German event. Because he is a member of the European Tour and plays infrequently in the US, he has not been on the radar of many golf fans. As a member of the European Tour, Kaymer could only play in PGA tournaments when he gained an exception, but now, as one of the world’s Top 50 golfers, Kaymer is eligible to enter almost any major pro golf tournament, including the PGA’s Transition Championship at Innisbrook (in Palm Harbor, Florida) in 2011. Although Kaymer won four tournaments in 2010, he only tied for 20th at Innisbrook, but still held on to his No. 1 spot.
Kaymer won the PGA Championship in August 2010, becoming one of only two Germans to ever win a major PGA championship. (The German Bernhard Langer won the Masters in Augusta twice, in 1985 and 1993. See more in the box below.) 2010 was a very good year for Martin Kaymer. He was the top money earner in the European Tour, with a total of €4,461,011 (ca. $6,290,000) in prize money from the 22 tournaments he played that year. Despite holding the No. 1 spot for eight weeks in 2011, Kaymer found himself struggling, particularly in PGA contests. His 2011 earnings dropped considerably compared to 2010. In 2011 he fell as low as sixth, but held the number one, two, three and fourth spots at various times. His impressive victory in China let him end the year ranked fourth in the world.
As of June 2012, following the BMW International Open near Cologne, Kaymer’s world ranking was 13. Although he gained some fame by sinking a marvelous eight-foot putt on the 18th hole at the 2012 Ryder Cup, giving the Europeans a come-from-behind win, by mid-October 2012 he had dropped to 33rd in the world.
Bernhard Langer (1957- )
Langer is the only other German golfer, besides Martin Kaymer, to be ranked number one in the world (for three weeks). The Bavarian Langer turned professional in 1976 and was the inaugural world number one when the Official World Golf Rankings first came into being in 1986. In addition to his two Masters wins, Langer is one of the very few players who have won sanctioned professional golf tournaments on every continent on which the game is played. He won 84 pro tournaments between 1975 and 2006. Langer was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2002. He helped Kaymer prepare for the 2011 Masters in Augusta, Georgia, a course he knows well, but it didn’t seem to help. Kaymer missed the cut on the second day.
The Ryder Cup Hero | Martin Kaymer was only six years old when Langer missed the six-foot putt at the 1991 Ryder Cup that would have retained the trophy for the Europeans. Kaymer was thinking of his countryman when he sank a critical eight-foot putt at the 2012 Ryder Cup, giving the Europeans the win and making himself a hero! He literally jumped for joy. It was a very sweet moment for him.
Joining the PGA Tour
Ever since winning the PGA Championship in August 2010, Kaymer has been eligible to officially join the US PGA Tour full-time, but he waited until the 2013 season to do so. In an interview for Golf.com, the German golfer said: “I’m ready now. I’ve achieved a few things and mentally I feel ready to approach it with different goals. It doesn’t really make any difference to my schedule in Europe and the States. I’ll maybe play two or three more [PGA Tour] tournaments, that’s all.” In 2015 he lost his PGA membership by not playing in enough PGA matches to qualify.
Kaymer’s PGA Players Win | After struggling through 2012 and 2013, Martin Kaymer finally broke a long winless streak with a dramatic victory at the Players Championship in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida on May 11, 2014. Although he was in the lead from the beginning at TPC Sawgrass, on the day of his last round the German player was being challenged by the Spaniard Sergio Garcia and two Americans: Jordan Spieth and Jim Furyk. Kaymer was three points ahead when play was delayed for lightning, with five holes left. The 90-minute break seemed to stall the German’s momentum. But as he had done in the Ryder Cup, Kaymer pulled off some amazing shots when he really needed them.
A double bogey at 15 cut his lead to just one point. Challenger Jim Furyk, already in the clubhouse, watched as Kaymer seemed to crumble. A par at 16 kept Kaymer in front, but the par-three 17th threatened his lead again. His tee-shot barely avoided the water. A botched chip left him with a 29-foot putt for par. At that point, Furyk probably thought he would reclaim the lead, but then Kaymer held off a 12-under tie by nailing his par putt.
There was more drama at 18 when Kaymer finished 20 feet short of the green with his second shot. Once again Kaymer displayed outstanding putting to claim the $1.8 million first prize with a dramatic one-shot victory. He ended with a final-round 71 and a winning total of 13-under. Following his Players win, Kaymer’s world ranking rose from 61 to 28.
But his 2014 comeback took a truly impressive turn when Kaymer dominated the U.S. Open tournament in North Carolina. The German player remained at the top of the leaderboard for all four days at the Pinehurst course. At times he led by 10 strokes, but none of the other players ever came close to catching up to Kaymer. His record-breaking 65 score on each of the two first days of the Open propelled him to a comfortable lead that he never took for granted. His steady performance on the final two days allowed him to end the tournament with an eight-stroke lead.
According to one newspaper account, “…Germany’s Martin Kaymer…methodically broke down and destroyed Pinehurst Resort and Country Club’s No. 2 Course with h is fearless shot-making and aggressive pin-hunting…” The only other players to finish under par, Americans Erik Compton and Rickie Fowler, tied for second, were simply unable to break Kaymer’s commanding lead on a course that most observers consider one of the most challenging in the world.
After a rough patch through several more tournaments, Kaymer pulled off a win on October 15, 2014 in Bermuda. At the PGA Grand Slam of Golf at Port Royal, the German pro must have had feelings of déjà vu while winning in a sudden-death playoff against Bubba Watson, a repeat of Kaymer’s 2010 victory at the PGA Championship in Wisconsin (see below). Both players had a six-under-par score after regular play in the 36-hole event, leading to the playoff round. On the first playoff hole Kaymer made a 10-foot birdie putt before Watson missed a birdie putt from five feet. With the extra pressure of a hurricane headed for Bermuda, the last holes were a bit wild. Kaymer’s win earned him $600,000. Watson took home $400,000. Kaymer’s world ranking was then 12.
Contrasted with Kaymer’s big Players win in 2014, the 2016 Players Championship in May saw another German golfer near the top of the leaderboard. After Round 3, Czech-German Alexander “Alex” Cejka (b. 1970) was tied for second with Ken Duke and Hideki Matsuyama. Kaymer was tied with nine others for 45th (at par). When it was all over, Cejka finished in three-way tie for 9th (8 under par), while Kaymer ended up in a four-way tie for 39th (one under par). Australian Jason Day took the top spot, at 15 under par, four strokes ahead of American Kevin Chappell.
VIDEO: Martin Kaymer sinks a 19-foot birdie at THE PLAYERS (2016)
In the opening round of THE PLAYERS Championship 2016, Martin Kaymer rolls in his 19-foot birdie putt on the par-3 17th hole. This highlight is delivered by PGA TOUR LIVE.
WEB: Martin Kaymer’s Current Ranking (Official World Golf Ranking)
Kaymer’s Early Life
Martin Kaymer was born on December 28, 1984 in Düsseldorf, West Germany. At the age of 10 he began playing at the amateur Mettmann Golf Club. Later he played for Bergisch Land in Wuppertal. His golf hero then was the South African golfer Ernie Els. Kaymer won the Austrian amateur championship (Österreichische Amateurmeisterschaften) in 2003, and the German amateur championship (Deutsche Amateurmeisterschaften) in 2004. In his last tournament as an amateur, Kaymer won the pro-am Central German Classic by five strokes in June 2005.
Kaymer turned pro at the end of 2005 and won his first professional tournament, the Friedberg Classic, in June 2006 at the age of 21. In that first year as a professional he did so well that he was named the Player of the Year by the German PGA. Kaymer also managed to earn that distinction in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
In 2010 he won four tournaments, including the PGA Championship in Wisconsin, which he won in a three-hole playoff against the American Bubba Watson. In January 2011 Kaymer won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship with an amazing eight-stroke lead. That win put him in the world Top 10 ranks for the first time (at 6th place), and it was the third time in a row that he had won at Abu Dhabi (a so-called “hat trick”).
Family and Personal
Kaymer’s father, Horst, is a former corporate executive. His mother, Rina, died of cancer in 2008. He tearfully dedicated his 2008 win at Abu Dhabi to her, only a few weeks before her death. Horst, ostensibly retired, now helps his son with his golf activities. (Johan Elliot of Sweden’s Sportyard AB is Kaymer’s official manager.) They recently formed MK Golf to manage all of Martin’s golf-related enterprises. Not counting his tournament winnings, Kaymer has earned almost $3 million so far from four sponsors: Schüco, BMW, Lacoste and Adidas.
Although they played golf together as boys, Martin’s two-years-older brother, Philip, is studying law. Philip has caddied for his brother in a few pro tournaments. Along with his father, Philip has offered important moral support for Martin, especially at critical times in his younger brother’s golf career, taking time from his studies to be at Martin’s side.
Where is “home”?
Martin Kaymer has homes in Germany and Scottsdale, Arizona, where he plays out of the Whisper Rock Golf Club. When he is in the US, he uses his Scottsdale condo as a base. But Kaymer is almost constantly traveling – playing in tournaments from Dubai to Florida. “I am on at least two flights a week for at least 30 weeks out of the year,” he said in a 2014 interview. He still considers “home” to be Mettmann, not far from Düsseldorf, even if he is rarely there.
The young bachelor was briefly linked romantically to the American former collegiate golfer Allison Michelletti. She was seen congratulating and hugging him after his August 2010 PGA Championship win in Kohler, Wisconsin. He was seen caddying for her in December 2010 when she tried to qualify (unsuccessfully) for the Ladies European Tour (LET) in La Manga, Spain. They met in Arizona, where Micheletti, originally from St. Louis, Missouri, was studying communications at Arizona State University (Tempe). The two have since gone their separate ways. Micheletti married retired NHL hockey player Mike Modano on September 1, 2013. In 2014 she gave birth to twins.
Next | Sports in Germany
AT THE GERMAN WAY
- Sports in Germany – Soccer is king, but it’s not alone.
- Mini Bios A-Z – Brief biographies of people from the German-speaking world
- Featured Biographies – More detailed bios of notable people from the German-speaking world
- Notable Women from Austria, Germany, Switzerland
- Famous Graves in Germany – Where are they buried?
ON THE WEB
- martinkaymer.com – Kaymer’s new official site is now in German and English (flag on top right).
- Martin Kaymer – Facebook – Martin Kaymer on Facebook – in German and English
- Official World Golf Ranking – See Martin Kaymer’s current rank.
- Martin Kaymer’s Tournament Schedule for 2016 (English) – From Martin Kaymer’s official site
- Martin Kaymer’s Turnierplan 2016 (Deutsch) – From Martin Kaymer’s official site
- Martin Kaymer – Wikipedia – English
- Martin Kaymer – Wikipedia – in German (auf Deutsch)
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