MARTIN Kaymer is one of those gifted players who found superstardom at a very young age, in his case by winning the USPGA Championship, but decided to try to improve by remodelling his game.
Sometimes, though, it’s best to play the cards that life has dealt you. In golf you have to play naturally, and the German is more confident when playing his normal game, which means fading the ball. He tried drawing it, but has been through that process now and duly earned his first win since 2012 on Sunday at a dramatic Players Championship.
Class, as they say, is permanent and Kaymer proved that with a fantastic win just when it seemed to be slipping from his grasp.
Leading by three with five to play, he was delayed for 90 minutes by a thunderstorm, then wobbled horribly when play resumed with a double bogey at 15, a three-putt at 16 and coming within inches of the water at the infamous 17th. But he holed a superb par and then held his nerve on the last hole to beat Jim Furyk by one stroke.
It could hardly have been any more exciting, especially for my son who had noticed Kaymer’s recent signs of a return to form and backed him to win at Sawgrass at odds of 80/1.
The victory should do wonders for his confidence. The Players is known as the fifth Major but in fact usually has a stronger field. I remember Tim Finchem, the chief of the PGA Tour, once calling me to ask why I was the only man in the world’s top 50 not playing the event that year, and what they could do to persuade me. That call itself was enough to make me book my flight.
It’s also brilliant news for Europe’s hopes of retaining the Ryder Cup. Kaymer holed the putt that saved the trophy in 2012, and I fully expect him to now go on and amass the points that he needs to be sure of helping to defend it at Gleneagles later this year.
He wasn’t the only European to shine at the weekend and show they are clicking into gear as the showdown with the United States appears on the horizon.
England’s Justin Rose and Lee Westwood, who finished three and four shots behind Kaymer, were excellent. Sergio Garcia made a schoolboy error at 16 when he went for the green from the straw – he could have hit the shot of his life and it wouldn’t have won him the tournament, but instead it did lose it for him. That aside, though, the Spaniard continues to look in good shape and fine form.
Former world No1 Rory McIlroy underlined what a competitor he is by holing the birdie he needed at 18 on Friday to make the cut, and then going on to finish tied with Westwood at nine under. He is looking better each week and it won’t be long before he too is back in the winners’ circle.
Finally, I didn’t know him personally but it was awful to hear of the tragic passing of Iain McGregor, who suffered a heart attack while caddying for Scot Alastair Forsyth at the Madeira Open at the weekend.
Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam