MARTIN KAYMER, on course to become only the second German to play in the Ryder Cup, has proved he is not just a talent but a fighter too.
The 23-year-old, tipped for great things by Bernhard Langer, is up from 10th to sixth on the points table after a second victory of the season at the BMW International in Munich.
Yet what a relief it was for him in front of his home fans.
As in Abu Dhabi in January, Kaymer led by six with a round to go. But whereas he was never caught there, this time he followed two bogeys on the front nine with a triple-bogey eight on the 11th after making what he admitted afterwards was “a big mistake”.
With one to play he trailed Dane Anders Hansen by one, but last season’s Rookie of the Year made a two-putt birdie on the par five to tie and did the same for a winning birdie when they went into sudden death.
“I think I have a really good chance now,” said Kaymer when asked about his position with 10 events to go in the Ryder Cup race.
“A six-shot lead is a lot, but it does not feel like that. The most important thing (after he hit a five-iron and then a pitch into the lake on the 11th) was just to keep fighting — and I did.
“It was very exciting and to be the first German to win this is very special.”
The win had added significance in the week where he pulled out of the eve-of-tournament pro-am to visit his seriously ill mother. “This is for you,” he said, shedding tears.
Kaymer missed his first five halfway cuts last season as he struggled to adjust to all the long-haul travelling the tour involves.
But he knew he had the game. He won twice in eight starts as he finished fourth on the 2006 Challenge Tour and before that registered five victories in 12 weeks on the German mini-tour.
In one of those he scored a second- round 59 containing an eagle and 12 birdies — and followed it up with a 62 to triumph by 10.
His first victory on that circuit had come while he was a 19-year-old amateur and once the main tour returned to Europe last year he began to find his feet.
After a third-place finish in Portugal he was joint leader with a round to go in the Wales Open and joint third after 54 holes of the French Open, then missed another opportunity for his first win by double-bogeying the final hole of the Scandinavian Masters.
The foundations had been laid, though, and after top 10 finishes in his last two events of the season — with an 11-under-par 61 in the first of them — he burst onto centre stage in the Middle East at the start of this year.
As well as winning in Abu Dhabi he was runner-up to Tiger Woods in Dubai after a birdie-birdie-eagle finish.
English trio Paul Casey, Mark Foster and John Bickerton were joint third yesterday, while Colin Montgomerie’s 16th place was at least an improvement on the last few months.
The circuit moves on to the French Open this week.
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