By Tony Jimenez
CHASKA, Minnesota (Reuters) – Twice major winner Martin Kaymer has urged Europe’s six Ryder Cup rookies to soak up the unique atmosphere of the competition, stay calm and “enjoy the amazing life experience they are going to have”.
The German holed a memorable seven-foot putt on the 18th green to ensure the visitors retained the trophy four years ago, capping the remarkable ‘Miracle at Medinah’ comeback victory over the United States in Illinois.
Danny Willett, Chris Wood, Rafa Cabrera-Bello, Andy Sullivan, Matt Fitzpatrick and Thomas Pieters are playing in the biennial team event for the first time this week and Kaymer said they should all avoid trying too hard to impress.
“I know it’s very difficult but I hope the rookies somehow try to find a way to calm themselves down and enjoy what they do,” the former world number one told a news conference at Hazeltine National on Thursday.
“For me, it was very important yesterday when I did a little putting competition with the Junior Ryder Cup team. Playing with the juniors brings a little more fun into it, it’s all way too serious sometimes.
“I really hope the rookies can enjoy the amazing life experience they are going to have on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, don’t try anything special, just play and enjoy what you love.”
The 31-year-old Kaymer said his own Ryder Cup debut at Celtic Manor in Wales in 2010 “was a bit overwhelming”.
“I was very glad I played with a very experienced player,” he added. “Lee Westwood helped me a lot, especially on the Friday morning.
“The entire week I thought I needed to make something special happen because the only thing you see when you watch highlights of the Ryder Cup are great shots, bunker shots holed from the fairway, people holing out.
“You think you need to do that too and then obviously that changes when you play more matches.”
Kaymer says he receives more worldwide attention for his 2012 Medinah exploits than he does for his 2014 U.S. Open win and 2010 PGA Championship triumph.
“There’s nothing bigger than the Ryder Cup,” said the German. “It’s like in soccer where for some people it’s almost like a religion.
“I was very glad I got that gift in 2012, to have the opportunity to make something amazing happen in my career that will never happen again.”
(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)