A return to the club where he used to come autograph hunting as a boy is fuelling a nostalgic Martin Kaymer as the German hopes that magical memories and home comforts can inspire him to a second victory at the BMW International Open.
Kaymer, who won the 2008 championship at Golfclub München Eichenried – host venue of the last 15 BMW International Opens, grew up in Düsseldorf, just a few miles down the road from the event’s new home at the Jack Nicklaus designed Golf Club Gut Lärchenhof, and he retains fond recollections of his previous visits to the course.
“The first time I came here, in the late ‘90s, I was waiting for the players on the 18th green looking for autographs or hats or gloves or anything,” said Kaymer, the second-most successful German golfer of all time after 42-time European Tour Champion Bernhard Langer.
“I always wanted an autograph from Pádraig Harrington,” he continued. “I think I got it on the Saturday of the tournament, and a glove from Ernie Els. And then I played a junior tournament, and I wore a glove but only the first hole; it was way too big, but I wanted to wear it!”
The 2010 US PGA Champion also spoke of the special relevance of the tournament’s new location and the unique atmosphere it presents.
He said: “It's my homeland here. This is where I grew up. I have played this course many, many times. Finally I can sleep in my own bed playing a golf tournament, it's very rare. I think with the support of the spectators and my family and my friends, it's like a 12th man when you play football, hopefully they can help me a little bit.
“I have breakfast in the places where I used to go the last ten years, I can go to the restaurants where I usually eat. So it feels almost like playing a European Tour event in your backyard a little bit.”
Kaymer, who finished tied 15th at last week’s US Open Championship at the Olympic Club, was careful to stress that he is still approaching the event with the same focus and ambition as any other tournament he enters, however, despite all the home comforts on offer this week in Rhineland.
“You should never forget it's still an important tournament. It's not only about having fun and just playing a couple of rounds of golf. This is a serious tournament and I would like to play as well as possible.”