GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) - It was a putt that won the 2012 Ryder Cup for Europe and relaunched the career of Martin Kaymer.
As a hush fell over a shadowy 18th green at Medinah, Kaymer settled over a six-foot putt that would complete one of the great comebacks in all of sports.
The German, a year into a rebuild of his swing, wasn’t in great form at the time and was playing in only his second match of the week. But for some reason, he knew he wouldn’t miss.
“For me, everything was so clear,” he said on Thursday. “I wasn’t afraid of failure.”
The putt rolled into the middle of the cup. Kaymer raised both fists and skipped across the green before jumping into the arms of Sergio Garcia, images that have been played on a loop these past few weeks in the seemingly endless build-up to the Ryder Cup.
Kaymer has found himself sitting down and watching them. The “memory you cannot put into words” sparked his return to the elite of golf after a slump in form following his first major win at the 2010 U.S. PGA Championship and becoming No. 1 in 2011.
“I was not in a deep hole, maybe a little plugged one,” Kaymer said. “It definitely (gave me) a little more motivation again … I was a little bit surprised how well I handled the last hour.”
Two years on, Kaymer is now a two-time major champion after his wire-to-wire victory at the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 in June, and one of Europe’s top men at Gleneagles this week.
He is also in the privileged position of being a potential partner for top-ranked Rory McIlroy during the first two days. They practiced together on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, although Kaymer was paired with Thomas Bjorn for the opening fourballs on Friday.
“We get along well as people, and at the end of the day it’s very important, especially for the foursomes because it’s such a tough game to play,” Kaymer said of his relationship with the world’s best player. “It’s not a secret that I get along with Rory.”
Kaymer’s good form in May through June, when he won the Players Championship and the U.S. Open, has cooled somewhat but he should still play more at Gleneagles than he did at Medinah.
And Europe wouldn’t want anyone else to be over a putt to win the Ryder Cup on Sunday afternoon.
“It’s one of those things that you don’t have a choice missing. It’s not an option,” said Kaymer, one of five members of the European team - players, captains or vice captains - to have holed a winning putt at a Ryder Cup.
“A lot of guys, and you see it in different sports, sometimes they are afraid of winning because it’s a different situation. It can be uncomfortable. It’s a nice situation for me.”
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