A REJUVANATED Martin Kaymer cannot wait to take on the test of Real Club Valderrama at this week’s Estrella Damm Andalucía Masters.
The former World No. 1 has made no secret of his love for the 1997 Ryder Cup venue.
And the German heads into the week with renewed confidence afterchallenging for the title at last week’s ISPS Handa UK Championship at The Belfry – where he missed out on a play-off spot by a single shot.
The two-time Major Champion, who finished in a share of third on Sunday, is keen to build on last week’s performance as he continues his preparations for the US Open – which he won in 2014 – in a fortnight’s time at Winged Foot.
Martin Kaymer said: “I’m confident. Of course, my confidence is higher than last week. But it was very disappointing for me to hit that tee shot on 17.
“I was very surprised with myself because it’s probably the easiest tee shot for me.
“I didn’t take the opportunity that was presented to me so I was disappointed by that. But I need to see the positives from what happened last week.
“Valderrama is a golf course that was probably one of my top three golf courses around the world.
“If it wasn’t taking place at Valderrama this week I probably would not have come to Spain. For me it’s a very special place.
“I’ve always wanted to win here some day, and every time I have the opportunity to come here and play and compete, I take it.”
‘Valderrama: Ball-strikers paradise’
MARTIN KAYMER clearly prefers courses which test every shot in the bag rather than relying on a hot putter as he chases a first European Tour win in six years.
“The beauty of the golf course is you don’t need to shoot four or five-under every day. You just need to keep it in play and level par is a very good score.
“You don’t need to feel the pressure of making five or six birdies every day,” said the player who holed the winning putt in the 2012 Ryder Cup, dubbed the miracle of Medinah.
“It’s a golf course where you need to strike the ball well,” added Kaymer.
“It’s not a putting competition. It’s more about shaping the ball in all different angles. So it’s more about playing golf, not the attacking.
“That’s what I really like about this golf course.”
And the European Tour broke new ground by playing at three Ryder Cup venues for four weeks in a row, after two tournaments at Celtic Manor and then The Belfry.
That should appeal to a player who has been on the winning team in all four of his Ryder Cup appearances since his debut in 2010 at Celtic Manor.
Højgaard stays patients to earn win
LAST week’s champion Rasmus Højgaard is also riding high after winning the second title of his rookie season, adding to his AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open success in December.
The Dane became the second-youngest player in European Tour history to record multiple wins, aged just 19 years and 171 days.
Teenager Højgaard said: “I feel pretty good. It was awesome to get my second win – it all happened pretty quick.
“It’ll definitely take some time for it to sink in. It’s hard to tell what has worked for me.
“I’ve played solid from the British Masters and kept my patience. That’s been the key for the UK Swing success.”
Talking about Valderrama, he added: “It’s an awesome course, in great shape. You’ve got to hit some good shots out here to make a score. It’s a lovely place.
“If you’re playing well you can make some big moves on the leaderboard,” said Højgaard, who moved up from 104 on the Official World Golf Ranking to No. 63.
“I’ve seen the winning scores here over the last few years,” he said.
“It’s not been 15 or 18-under par. It’s been around 10-under par. If you shoot under-par in any round, you’ve done well.”
Ryder Cup captain proud of fellow Dane
HØJGAARD’S victory earned praise from 2018 Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjørn, who has tipped his young compatriot for big things in the future.
This week, Bjørn returns to the venue where he made his debut in The Ryder Cup in 1997, starting a journey which culminated in his victorious captaincy two years ago.
Bjørn said: “For me the stand-out memory of Valderrama is sitting on the driving range for the opening ceremony of the 1997 Ryder Cup.
“The King of Spain was here. Seve being captain and being part of that team will always be the stand-out memory for me.
“It was the start of an amazing relationship for me and the Ryder Cup. Being part of that team alongside all of the heroes I grew up with, that for me was such a special moment.”
•To follow lives scoring at Valderrama, click here.