Scottish Daily Mail

Willett rage at brother’s ‘cretin’ jibe

Kaymer ready for role as mentor

- DEREK LAWRENSON reports from Hazeltine

MASTERS champion Danny Willett issued an embarrasse­d apology last night after his brother labelled American golf fans ‘cretins.’ The puerile piece written by drama teacher Pete Willett, which appeared in UK publicatio­n National Club Golfer, was the talk of Hazeltine, where the Ryder Cup begins tomorrow. In an effort to quell a hostile reception from home fans, Danny said: ‘I’d just like to obviously apologise for what’s been said. They’re certainly not my thoughts about the American fans that took me under their wing fantastica­lly at Augusta in April.’

EVEN now, four years on, there will be a moment each week when Martin Kaymer thinks about the six-foot putt he holed to win the Ryder Cup and complete the Medinah miracle.

Just not in the way you would imagine. While his pro-am playing partners want to know what it was like when the putt fell below ground, the question triggers an alternativ­e image for the German. What if he had missed? Remember the movie Sliding Doors, in which Gwyneth Paltrow’s character lived parallel lives based on whether or not she caught a train? Kaymer is enacting his own version for real.

‘I think 95 per cent of amateurs I play with want to know what it was like and of course it’s fun to remember,’ he said. ‘But for me it makes me think of what would have happened if it hadn’t gone in. Would I have been strong enough to cope with the different questions the media would always ask?

‘The fans who approached me at the next tournament, I think about the different vibe there would have been. So it would have gone on. ‘Would I have won the US Open in 2014 if I hadn’t had the confidence of knowing I could hole big putts under pressure or would I have been afraid of failing? Would the doubts have been overwhelmi­ng, that maybe you’re not as good as you think you are? Would I have even been picked for a wildcard this time? ‘I think it’s very healthy to think about it both ways, to have experience­d it one way and question it the other way. I’m glad it didn’t happen but it is good for me to think about both scenarios.’ If he ever got tired of playing golf it is clear the thoughtful 31-yearold from Dusseldorf could make a handsome living as a sports psychologi­st. ‘I look back on some of the things I’ve gone through and I don’t know how I could have been that strong,’ said the two-time major winner. ‘I am surprised how well I did certain things, and we underestim­ate ourselves anyway, always.

‘If I’d missed that putt I’d have needed a break to rationalis­e it and see it for what it was. At the end of the day, you tried your very best. You put yourself out there and it didn’t work out. ‘Remember the Champions League final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich where Munich lost in their home stadium? They had a penalty late on and none of the players wanted to take it. Then Arjen Robben stepped up and missed. To score the winning penalty is what everyone wants when they are 15 or 16 years old but then you have it and you’re afraid. I would probably have been afraid as well.

‘At the Ryder Cup I didn’t have a choice. I couldn’t walk away. I was forced to do it, and maybe that was a good thing.’

This will be the fourth successive Ryder Cup for Kaymer and he is aware his role will be different this time. He will be charged with helping gifted rookie Thomas Pieters.

‘I’m fine with being one of the senior players and helping to look after the rookies,’ he said. ‘I remember making my debut at Celtic Manor in 2010, and trying to enjoy it but enjoyment is so hard when you want something really bad.

‘Lee Westwood was doing his best to relax me but he wasn’t very successful. It would be a shame if our rookies didn’t enjoy it. I think the key is not to make it bigger than it really is. As for Thomas, he is a quiet person but we can all see how good he is. I remember trying to qualify for my first Ryder Cup in 2008 and I didn’t handle it well. Thomas was in the same situation in the final event last month and he handled it brilliantl­y.

‘To finish with three straight birdies told us a lot about his character and that was more important in the end than the score.’

If all goes well, both Kaymer and Pieters are likely to play five matches, so it is critical to Europe that the senior partner brings out the best in his young colleague. How will he get on?

One thing for certain is, when it is all over, we can expect a deep and considered response.

 ?? PA ?? Team bonding: Martin Kaymer (right) with Rory McIlroy yesterday
PA Team bonding: Martin Kaymer (right) with Rory McIlroy yesterday
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