Martin Kaymer interview: Looking to continue his Abu Dhabi monopoly
Having won three times –and finished runner-up once in the last four years here, it's easy to see why Martin Kaymer just loves Abu Dhabi.
The world No.4, who became only the 10th member of the exclusive club of players who have won both Major and World Golf Championship events (2010 PGA Championship and the 2011 WGC-HSBC Champions), is actually 80-under par for his last four tournaments in Abu Dhabi – that would be a staggering five-under par 67 every time he tees up.
Despite the fact that he is the lowest of the top-four ranked players in the world who will be lining up at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, it would take an incredibly brave person not to name the German, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Wednesday, as the pre-tournament favourite.
You have already forced the organisers to order a brand new Falcon Trophy. Given your record in Abu Dhabi, should we already inscribe your name on it?
I wish I could be that sure of winning again. The field in 2012 will be the strongest ever at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship so it will be very tough for me to defend. However, you can be sure that I will do everything I can to win again.
You also seem to be enjoying the HSBC-sponsored tournaments. That was a fantastic win at HSBC Champions in Shanghai and that was some final round there.
It was indeed a great win. It proved myself again. It proved that hard work will pay off! I worked really hard in the summer time and the fall; I was practising very hard on my game and I was working out really hard in the gym and I really wanted to achieve something. I was running out of tournaments, so was really happy that it still happened and for it to be such a big event.
I would have loved to carry on and win the Race to Dubai for a second time, but I have to think of the long term and my schedule is very carefully thought through so that I can stay fit and healthy and motivated throughout the year so it isn’t easy to add in extra events at the last minute. I also have sponsor commitments and personal arrangements that takes a lot of trouble to plan.
You always seem to start your season very well, and play very well in Abu Dhabi – is it because your practice regime during the break is better than most other players?
I will take a break and then practice and train very hard in the gym in order to be ready for Abu Dhabi and the new season. The rest and relaxation of Christmas is also important as it has been a long season for me. It’s tough to explain, but it’s a combination of a lot of things, why I play well in Abu Dhabi.
It’s just the whole package, I believe: I come from five or six weeks’ break, so first of all I’m very motivated to play golf again and to play a tournament again. And then we are treated so well off the course as well. Every year, you get to know the golf course better and better, but I think I know how to play that course in the easy way for me; that might be my advantage.
I feel comfortable on every tee box I stand on; I really can feel the tee shot, I know where I can miss in order to still have a shot towards the green, and another big advantage is that I can read those greens very well.
Now that you have won the tournament three times, do you think there will be more pressure on you as you tee up in 2012?
I don’t think it’s more pressure at all. If you’ve won a title there shouldn’t be more pressure at all. It should give you even more confidence to do it again because you know you’ve been successful at that golf course already, so it shouldn’t add any more pressure. I don’t feel that at all.
I really like defending titles because if you’ve got all that good experience from the previous year I think it gives you the belief that you can win again. I can approach the tournament in Abu Dhabi with a very, very positive mindset.
You have been to Abu Dhabi several times now. What is one thing you are looking forward to – apart from winning the tournament again!
Of course, I would like to win the tournament again, but I also look forward to the week very much. It is such an exciting time of year – the whole season ahead and everyone catching up with each other after the Christmas break. There is a special buzz. We get looked after really well both at the course and at the Emirates Palace. It is one of my favourite tournaments each year.
Tell us three things that you need to do well to conquer the National course? And which is your favourite hole there?
Hit the fairways, knock it close and make the putts! I am not going to give away my secrets! As for the holes, the 18th is simply fantastic. There is nothing better than walking up there in front of the crowds, preferably after hitting a good shot…
How would you look back at the year 2011?
I would have liked to have won more tournaments than I did, but definitely, winning the WGC-HSBC Champions helped me end the season on a positive note. I had felt like I was playing pretty well but hadn’t won since Abu Dhabi, so I was extremely pleased to win such a prestigious title and my first WGC event. It was a mixed year really, as I have very high standards for myself but I am really looking forward to a fresh start and to a great year in 2012.
Your aims for 2012?
I would like to play more consistently next year and of course I would like to win another Major, which would hopefully help me get back to the top of the ranking. Although, for now, Luke Donald has had such an amazing year, I don’t think he will be giving this up very easily.