GOLF IS AN ODD GAME. If hitting the shots isn’t hard enough, how about all the time that elapses in between playing them? That’s the bulk of the game. It messes with your head, whether you’re an amateur or Martin Kaymer.
Kaymer had a four-shot lead on the back nine at The Players Championship, playing near flawless golf during the final round. Then the horn sounded late on Sunday afternoon. A 90-minute rain delay followed. Goodbye momentum. Hello demons.
“It is always very difficult to come back after a little break,” Kaymer told NBC’s Roger Maltbie. “Obviously, you see the leaderboard, you see where you are. When you are playing the first 14 holes, you just keep going and I played really, really well. And then you are really disappointed when they called it, and obviously there was a reason for it.”
When play resumed, veteran Jim Furyk putted out on the 18th green for a 66. He was the leader in the clubhouse at 12 under. Kaymer was 15 under with four holes to play, but that changed within minutes. In Kaymer’s words, he returned “a little cold.”
The 2010 PGA champion promptly made a double bogey at 15. The lead was 1 with three holes to play. Welcome to Chokey Town.
“I made a couple of wrong decisions on 15,” he said. “You give yourself a chance for par. You don’t need to be that aggressive and try to go for it.”
At the par-5 16th, a birdie hole, Kaymer walked off with a par. “And then on 16, you’ve got to chip it. It was not the right decision.”
Kaymer was quick to add, “But a big putt on 17.” Ah, the 17th, that watery graveyard of so many would-be Players champions, saved the 29-year-old German from collapse after his tee shot nearly went kerplunk. He somehow snaked in a 30-foot par putt to walk to the 18th tee with a one-shot edge.
“That is one wild par, that is all I can tell you,” said NBC golf analyst Johnny Miller.
Kaymer then bravely made a scrambling par on the tough finishing hole to complete a gutty comeback, his first PGA Tour win in nearly four years.
Kaymer is now in select company, one of only four players to win The Players Championship, a major and a World Golf Championship. The other three are Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson and Adam Scott. The former world No. 1 player moved to No. 28 in the Official World Golf Ranking.
Welcome back, Kaymer.