CHRISTMAS dinner will taste all the sweeter now for two of Europe’s Ryder Cup heroes, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer, after they claimed their first individual titles of the year at the weekend.
McDowell broke his duck for 2012 with an excellent victory at the World Challenge in California, where his extraordinary chip out of the rough at the 17th hole helped him beat American Bradley Keegan by three strokes.
That shot saw him save par, while he followed an equally brilliant approach at the difficult last, where Tiger Woods found the water, with a very good birdie putt to complete a great win.
Kaymer, meanwhile, maintained his record of winning a tournament every season – quite an accolade – by taking the Nedbank Golf Challenge title at the Gary Player Country Club in South Africa.
In fact the German has won at least two titles every year since 2008, and made clear how much his 2012 drought had been at the back of his mind.
It was also nice to hear him speak highly of Player, who called him to congratulate him on his maiden Major triumph at the 2010 US PGA Championship.
His success completed a German double at the club, after Bernhard Langer won the seniors event in seven under par – just one off his countryman’s final score and from one round fewer.
Both Kaymer and McDowell have definitely benefited from being part of the team that won probably the best Ryder Cup ever, and it’s no coincidence that their first wins of 2012 have followed shortly afterwards.
Martin told me last week that his famous six-foot putt on the last green against Steve Stricker was the most important of his life – and he’s right, he won’t play a tougher one all his career. But if you can hole that it makes all other putts feel just that little bit easier.
Sam Torrance OBE is a multiple Ryder Cup-winning golfer and media commentator. He has won 21 European Tour titles in a career spanning 40 years and famously sank the putt that clinched victory for Europe in the 1985 Ryder Cup. Follow him on Twitter @torrancesam