Martin Kaymer returns to the “paradise” of St Andrews aiming to become the first player in the ten-year history of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship to mount a successful title defence.
The German, currently sixth in the Official World Golf Ranking, will be joined at the star-studded Pro-Am event by his father, Horst, and his elder brother, Philip, who will fill the roles of playing partner and caddie respectively.
Twelve months ago, Kaymer collected the fourth and final title of a stunning 2010 season when he closed with a superb round of 66 over the famed Old Course at St Andrews, which along with the neighbouring courses at Kingsbarns and Carnoustie will again play host to the US$5million event.
Having finished runner-up in 2008 and tied 15th in 2007, Kaymer boasts a remarkable record in the tournament, and is justifiably confident of continuing that trend this week.
He said: “You play on three wonderful golf courses, so it’s probably the best week of the year on The European Tour. It was my last win last year, so to finish off the season by winning at St Andrews was kind of like a fairy-tale. It was beautiful.
“So I’m really looking forward to the week. Very rarely do you go to a golf tournament this excited about playing a golf course. I feel ready – it’s definitely going to be a nice week.
“This feels like home for me. When I was standing today on the first tee, it just felt so peaceful. A lot of the players say that Augusta is paradise, but for me St. Andrews is paradise. It is the Home of Golf, it’s where I feel the most comfortable.”
Kaymer believes that the key to a successful title defence this week could lie in overcoming the multitude of challenges posed by Carnoustie’s ultra-demanding links layout.
He said: “I think Carnoustie is definitely the toughest of the three golf courses. You can score well at Kingsbarns and St Andrews if the weather is okay. But at Carnoustie, if you shoot level par there on a good day that’s still a good score, so it’s the toughest of the three courses, for sure.”
The German also revealed that his initial encounters with links golf during his formative years were not entirely positive experiences.
He said: “When I was an amateur I came here twice, once for the Amateur Championship and again for the British Boys, and I didn’t really like links golf at all – I found it quite unfair. But then when I came back and played more often in Scotland and Britain, I became a lover of these golf courses.”