A day that chal­lenged ev­ery­thing we thought we knew about golf

Golf Digest Middle East - - Editor's Letter - ROB­BIE GREEN­FIELD rob­bie@mo­ti­vate.ae Twit­ter: @Rob_Green­field / @GolfDigestME

very time you think you’ve got­ten to know this mys­te­ri­ous game well enough to make a ba­sic as­sump­tion, it jumps up and re­minds you that re­ally, you know noth­ing at all. As such, Martin Kaymer’s fail­ure to con­vert a 10-shot lead with 14 holes to play in Abu Dhabi last month was eas­ily the most im­prob­a­ble and bizarre stretch of golf I’ve ever watched.

I’m sure I am not alone in con­fess­ing that had I been the Fal­con Tro­phy’s en­graver, the name ‘G. Stal’ would look sus­pi­ciously like it had started with an ‘M’ and ended with an ‘R’, and I would cur­rently be on the look­out for al­ter­na­tive em­ploy­ment. I was still in de­nial even as Kaymer was mak­ing that tor­tu­ous tre­ble-bo­gey on 13. me that he had learned not to be afraid of win­ning. His method for deal­ing with the pres­sures of hav­ing the lead was sim­ple. For­get about the chas­ing pack and play only against your­self. At Pine­hurst that meant, ‘ how low can I go in a U.S. Open?’. The an­swer was lower than any of us had thought pos­si­ble on that lay­out.

“In or­der to win a golf tour­na­ment, you need to re­main ex­tremely fo­cused on ev­ery shot,” he had said. At some point dur­ing his fi­nal round in Abu Dhabi, Martin Kaymer and this unerring men­tal­ity that has served him so well en route to two ma­jors and nu­mer­ous other big tro­phies, went their sep­a­rate ways. This is a guy who holed a six­foot putt un­der un­bear­able pres­sure to seal the Mir­a­cle at Me­d­i­nah, even though he was low on con­fi­dence and form. He han­dled all that Pine­hurst could throw at him with ice flow­ing through his veins.

But on one of his favourite cour­ses, where he is the most dec­o­rated of three- time win­ners, Kaymer’s nerve be­trayed him. It’s not enough to at­tribute this loss to two poor tee shots and the round of Gary Stal’s life. Kaymer made 25 birdies in his first 58 holes, and none in his fi­nal 14.

As stunned by what hap­pened as I re­main, I back Kaymer to find a way to profit from this or­deal in the long run. He is a thought­ful, metic­u­lous player who will come to terms with it and then use it to be­come a bet­ter player. And I will never make an as­sump­tion in golf again.

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