Nicolas Meitinger and Martin Kaymer may have been born just ten months apart in towns less than 20 miles apart, but when it comes to their respective temperaments, the two men are polar opposites.
For whereas Düsseldorf-born Kaymer is the king of cool, rarely betraying any signs of emotion on the golf course, Cologne native Meitinger wears his heart very much on his sleeve.
But perhaps some of Kaymer’s calmness is belatedly beginning to rub off on Meitinger, who followed in his friend’s footsteps by winning the Challenge de France last year – only to discover that victory is merely the starting point on the road to graduating to The European Tour.
By his own admission, Meitinger – a winner of six EPD Tour titles to Kaymer’s five – took his foot off the pedal after his triumph at Golf Disneyland, expecting further success to simply fall into his lap.
Instead of capitalising on his early momentum, Meitinger slowly slipped down the Rankings and eventually finished 18 places outside the all-important top 20.
It was a chastening experience for Meitinger, who subsequently suffered a hangover at the start of this season with five successive missed cuts.
A mini recovery was followed by more disappointment when he missed more cuts with at the Double Tree by Hilton Acaya Open, the Finnish Challenge and last week’s Norwegian Challenge.
But upon his arrival in Denmark at the start of the week, Meitinger vowed to change his approach and accept the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune with as much equanimity as he could muster.
That theory was put to the test when, having made a bright start on the opening morning of the ECCO Tour Championship hosted by Thomas Bjorn & Mercedes-Benz, he promptly proceeded to undo his hard work with a potentially card-wrecking triple bogey seven on the 13th hole.
In days gone by that might have signalled the start of a minor Meitinger meltdown, but instead of falling apart he promptly rallied with an eagle at the 15th hole before closing with a birdie to sign for a morale-boosting round of 69.
Meitinger said: “I was proud of the way I fought back after the 13th. I pulled my tee shot, chipped out, then left my wedge shot five metres short of the green and took four putts to get down from there. So at that point I was thinking ‘here we go again,’ because I’ve run up some big numbers in the past couple of weeks, and afterwards I’ve just given up a little bit. But today I concentrated on keeping my head, and came back really well.
“I’ve been striking the ball well recently, but I’ve really been struggling with my short game and it doesn’t matter how well you’re hitting it, if you can’t get the ball in the hole then you’re not going to break par. So it’s been extremely frustrating, but it was great to see some putts finally drop today and hopefully I can now build on this round.
“I’m obviously disappointed not to have built on my win in France last year, because getting a win so early in the season sets you up nicely and should guarantee a place in the top 20 at least. It was a huge relief to get my first victory on the Challenge Tour, and maybe mentally I switched off a little bit instead of keeping my focus and trying to get the second win, which would have been enough to get my card for the main Tour.
“Maybe I thought life would be easier after my victory, but golf’s not like that and you have to keep working really hard to get good results. I’ve learned that the hard way, and hopefully I can now start to put things right and make up for lost time.”