Golf Tidbits: Turnaround complete for Kaymer

05/13/2014 12:42 PM

05/13/2014 12:47 PM

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - Martin Kaymer is following in the footsteps of fellow German Bernhard Langer, and that isn't a bad thing.

Langer was the first-ever world No. 1, when the world golf rankings started in 1986. He lost his game battling the yips for periods of time over following years.

He has found his game again and is a dominant player on the Champions Tour.

Kaymer won four times worldwide in the 2010 season, including his first major, the PGA Championship. He won again early in the 2011 campaign and finished second at the World Golf Championship-Accenture Match Play Championship, and that vaulted Kaymer to No. 1 in the world.

Though he lost the top spot in the world rankings two months later, Kaymer posted five more top-10 finishes that season, including his second victory of the year.

His slide started in the 2012 season. He struggled to five missed cuts against six top-10 finishes. Two of those missed cut happened at majors.

Kaymer's turnaround started late that season when he narrowly played his way on the European Ryder Cup team. Though captain Jose Maria Olazabal played him in just two sessions, Kaymer had enough mettle in his game to help the Europeans complete a remarkable comeback.

Kaymer's par putt in the 18th hole clinched a 1-up win over Steve Stricker, and clinched the Cup for the Europeans. At the end of the 2012 season, he earned his first win in a full year, albeit against a field of just 12 players.

The following season, Kaymer started with three top-10 finishes in his first four starts. However, he only had five more top 10s the rest of the season.

His slide in the world rankings continued earlier this season. After a pair of top-20 finishes to start his season, Kaymer went nine straight events in which he finished 23rd or worse.

Back-to-back 69s to start the Wells Fargo Championship had him three shots off the lead at the halfway point, but he went 1-over par for the final two rounds to fall off the pace.

The confidence he found in those first two rounds carried over to the Players Championship. Kaymer fired a 9-under 63 in the first round and led wire-to- wire as he picked up his first significant win since the end of the 2011 season.

Though his drop in the rankings wasn't as precipitous as it may seem, he had fallen to 63rd before the Wells Fargo Championship.

Seven of Kaymer's last eight rounds have been of par or better. That has been the most important part of the turnaround. Earlier this season, he had a stretch of six of eight rounds of par or better. Kaymer was 10-under par in those six rounds, while he was 21-under par in his recent burst of seven rounds of par or better.

With just one important win, Kaymer has played his way into contention for this year's European Ryder Cup team. If he were to make it, that would be Kaymer's third Ryder Cup appearance.

Now that he is back to his winning ways, look for Kaymer to be a factor in the money title race on the European Tour. He finished third, first and third from 2009-11.

What will be interesting to see is if this win will help Kaymer become a factor again in the major championships. Since he won the 2010 PGA Championship, Kaymer's best finish in a major was a tie for 12th at the 2011 British Open.

With his confidence soaring, it wouldn't be a stretch to see him finish in the top 10 at one of the final three majors this season.

TOUGH WEEK FOR EUROPEAN TOUR

While six of the top 10 finishers at the Players Championship were European, those players' home tour was having a week to forget in Madeira.

It was supposed to be a great week as it marked the 1,500th official European Tour event. The joy of that milestone slowly began to fade before the tournament even started. The event was co-sanctioned with the Challenge Tour, and the highest-ranked player in the field stood at world No. 241.

Then, on Thursday, not a single shot was struck, as fog shrouded the course the entire day. Friday was more of the same. There was a five-hour delay because of fog. Saturday had another long fog delay, and Round 1 was finally finished early Sunday morning.

In an attempt to finish 36 holes, officials made the cut after one round and the second round would then be the final round. And that's when things went from bad to worse.

Ian MacGregor, who was caddying for Alistair Forsyth, collapsed on No. 9 - their 18th hole of the round - and later died of an apparent heart attack.

The second and final round was about half over at that point. Players were brought off the course, while MacGregor was treated and taken to the hospital.

Officials talked with players and caddies about whether they should resume the event. It was decided that they should play on, but not everyone was on board with the decision.

Three players withdrew during that delay, but Forsyth and others went on to complete their rounds. That didn't sit well with everyone as several tour players took to Twitter to voice their opinions.

Among the hashtags players created were "NoRespect" and "Classless," while others called for the event to be canceled. Many repeated the "respect" term, but included the word "NO" before "respect."

The tour was in a no-win position really because of the delays earlier in the week. If that had been the fourth and final round, it would have been easy to cancel the round and revert to the third-round standings. But with the fog delays, that wasn't possible.

Best wishes to the MacGregor family.

MINI-TIDBITS

- Francesco Molinari has earned enough money to be eligible for special temporary membership to the PGA Tour for the remainder of this year.

- Stacy Lewis has a chance to reclaim the top spot in the world rankings with a victory this week. She was No. 1 for four weeks in March and April last year.

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