Mental Masters

10
April
2013

Posted by Salman Mitha

Posted in Golf / Masters

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The Masters Preview with Martin Kaymer on his game and playing in the season’s first Major

The Battle of the Green Jacket once again tees off in a matter of hours from Augusta National.  The season’s first major always feels like it should be the final event of this sport, the ultimate jewel for a golfer, both in the season and his career. At the same time, no other tournament welcomes in the the new season like The Masters.

No matter the talent, not everyone can win it.  Ask Greg Norman.  The few who have won it multiple times – Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, and Germany’s own Bernhard Langer – have taken home the Green Jacket and all its glory overcoming all the challenges this traditional course throws at them.  Most recent examples of Woods, Mickelson and last year’s champion Bubba Watson finding that zone of focus, that mental state combined with physical abilities – and luck – to make that one shot to win.

When it works, there’s not stopping them.  Once it breaks down, there’s no getting back on.  Rory McIlroy has a few stories about that.

With the talent and exposure of the game increasing, the mental game becomes even more vital during the majors.  For the current crop of emerging European starts who have represented the continent well during Tiger’s recent “downturn”, the chances to win will become less this season as Tiger has found his roar. 

Between Tiger’s time away from #1, only four other golfers have been at the top, including Martin Kaymer.  During his rise, there was no questioning his talent, winning tournaments including the PGA Championship back in 2010 and part of the winning Ryder Cup teams.  However, his stay at the top in 2011 lasted only eight weeks and he’s not been back.  Over the past two years, many expected him to be in the mix with McIlroy, Lee Westwood, and the young U.S. talent, competing at majors.  However, in 2012, he finished only once in the top ten on the PGA Tour.

“For many people, fans or in the media, 2012 had more lows than highs,” says Kaymer.  “For me personally that was not the case.  I actually developed a lot as a golfer.  I learned a lot about myself last season, not only as a golfer, but also as a person.  That you have stay tuned in, that you have to keep believing.  To know that I get through those phases when I’m going against the wind, that’s good to know.”

And it has paid early dividends in 2013.  Already three top ten finishes combined in both the European and PGA tours, including tied for ninth at the WGC – Accenture Match Play Championship.

Germany's Martin Kaymer is looking to reclaim his spot amongst golf's elite. Photo: Mike Meyer / Hugo Boss

Germany’s Martin Kaymer is looking to reclaim his spot amongst golf’s elite. Photo: Mike Meyer / Hugo Boss

“My game feels actually good, and there’s plenty of opportunity for much more this season,” predicts Kaymer.  “I am confident and look forward to The Masters and the upcoming tournaments.”

If the world’s #31 golfer is to prove he can compete and rise back up the rankings, it starts this week at a tournament he has struggled.  In five appearances, Kaymer has only made the cut once, last year, and finished 44th.  In addition to the return of Tiger at the top of the rankings and his game, Kaymer is in a challenging pairing the first two rounds, teeing off at 1:30 pm EDT (19:30 CET) with three-time Masters champ and current #9 Mickelson and South Africa’s top golfer, Louis Oosthuizen, ranked #6 in the world and last year’s runner up, losing to Watson in the playoff.

“Tiger is simply a sensational golfer and probably one of the best who has ever played the game, and he’s showing that currently,” admits Kaymer.  “For us golfers, there’s nothing better than to compete with Tiger Woods at his best.”

And what about when that moment comes, against Tiger or Phil or whomever, when a shot is required that can chance his tournament?

“I have found out that there are no big tricks.  The most important for me in golf is patience and the belief in one’s skills.  In the last years, I have built up tremendous self-confidence in my abilities.  This belief has helped me often to be relaxed in stressful situations, because I know I’ve done everything I can to be prepared.”

After a practice round with his idol Langer on Wednesday, it is time for Kaymer to show that he has learned from his struggles, and combine his talent to get back to the top.  And perhaps get that Green Jacket.

World Golf #1’s during “Tiger Peak”

Tiger Woods (USA), June 12, 2005 – October 30, 2010 (281 consecutive weeks, record)

Lee Westwood (ENG), twice, 22 weeks total
Martin Kaymer (GER), 8 weeks
Luke Donald (ENG), four times, 56 weeks total
Rory McIlroy (NIR), four times, 39 weeks total

Woods, March 25, 2013 –   (626 total weeks and counting, record)

The Masters 2013 – Notable Pairings and Start Times

(Eastern Daylight Time / CET )

9:06am / 15:06
M. Weir (CAN)
L. Westwood (ENG)
J. Furyk (USA)

9:50 / 15:50
Z. Johnson (USA)
K. Choi (KOR)
G. McDowell (NIR)

10:34 / 16:34
B. Watson (USA)
I. Poulter (ENG)
S. Fox (USA)

10:45 / 16:45
T. Woods (USA)
L. Donald (ENG)
S. Piercy (USA)

1:30 / 19:30
P. Mickelson (USA)
L. Oosthuizen (ZA)
M. Kaymer (GER)

1:41 / 19:41
R. McIlroy (NIR)
K. Bradley (USA)
F. Jacobsen (SWE)

Follow The Masters with Sport Eagle as @Sal_SportEagle will be tweeting while watching each day’s action, following the European golfers and Martin Kaymer.

 

 

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