DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- You win some; you lose some. Martin Kaymer didn’t win the Dubai World Championship. But he did enough to stay ahead of Graeme McDowell to win the Race to Dubai, the European Tour’s money list, and with it a $1.5 million bonus. Kaymer didn’t beat Lee Westwood in the race to be World No.1 either. The Englishman keeps the No.1 spot for at least another week. So everybody was happy in the desert – even McDowell, who finished the season as European No.2 at the end of the greatest season of his career.
Kaymer has reached the pinnacle in Europe in only his fourth year on tour. He played his part in Europe’s victory in the Ryder Cup and won four tournaments in 2010, including three in a row starting with the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits in August.
So what makes the 25-year-old German tick? Westwood hasn’t got a clue. The best he can come up with is this: “He reminds me a lot of Bernhard Langer. I’m not quite sure what’s going on in his head but it looks good,” he said laughing. “He seems very calm and controlled. It must be a German thing.”
Kaymer speaks quietly but confidently. He’s polite, helpful, approachable and charming. Modest but driven. “I never thought I would be in this position so quickly,” he said. When he turned pro in 2005 the plan was to play one year on the German Tour then two on the Challenge Tour (the European equivalent of the Nationwide Tour) before trying to get onto the European Tour. And yet here he is – ahead of schedule, feeling comfortable, part of the scene. After becoming Rookie of the Year in Europe in 2007, his goal for 2008 was to break into the World Top 50. Mission accomplished. For 2009 he targeted the Top 20. Job done. For 2010 he targeted the Top 10. He got there in January. He’s now trying hard not to think about becoming World No.1 to emulate his hero Bernhard Langer. But it’s impossible to block it out because he is constantly asked about it. “I would love to get there,” he admitted.
As well as following in the footsteps of Langer, he names Ernie Els as his role model. “I try to be always calm whether I get eagles, birdies or bogeys,” Kaymer said. “I don’t go crazy like some other players on tour. I try to be more like Ernie.” It seems to be working.
Kaymer said his main goals for 2010 were to win a Ryder Cup and a major and claim the Race to Dubai. All boxes ticked. “What a year. A lot of dreams have come true,” he said. Goals for 2011? "It would be nice to win the British Open.”
But despite such a stellar season, Kaymer is still not the most famous sportsman in Germany. And he knows it. That accolade was wrapped up when Sebastian Vettel won the Formula 1 Grand Prix championship. Kaymer just shrugged and smiled. “Nothing bothers him,” said his best friend Alvaro Quiros. Oh well, you win some; you lose some.