Winning Ways: Kaymer & Stricker
Golf365 reveals the secrets of success for weekend winners Martin Kaymer and Steve Stricker.
MARTIN KAYMER – SCOTTISH OPEN CHAMPION
In The Bag
Driver – Ping Rapture
Irons – Titleist Z Muscle Forged
Wedges – Titleist Vokey Spin Milled
Putter – Ping Redwood
Ball – Titleist ProV1
Short game wizardry
Kaymer’s strongest suit – aside from a very smart brain – has been his wonderfully consistent long game. During his astonishing rise through the minor European tours he hit the ball so close, so often that his short game was almost irrelevant.
But on the main tour the courses are tougher and the short game needs to be sharp and currently Kaymer’s is about as good as it has ever been.
The stats were impressive: first for Scrambling, first for Birdies, first for Sand Saves, second for Putts per Round and fifth for Putting Average.
The German has an enviable ability to keep his golf simple when it really matters. He pulled clear of the field around the turn and maintained that gap throughout most of the back nine, but one potential problem emerged late on.
A bogey on the 16th brought his advantage down from three to two shots (and it could have been worse if Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano had holed a shortish birdie putt).
But the tee shot on the final two holes have tripped up many leaders in the past so Kaymer needed to remain alert. He found the middle of the 17th green with apparently effortless simplicity and then the middle of the final fairway with a solid swing.
Going back to back
Kaymer arrived in Scotland fresh from his win at the Open de France in Paris and admitted that after his previous tour wins he has played poorly the week afterwards. But it is typical of the Dusseldorf-resident that he should observe this pattern and seek to do something about it.
“Why take a week off when you are in form?” he said. “The important thing was to sleep and eat, I slept a lot in the last few days. This is pretty much the reason I could perform well this week.”
STEVE STRICKER – JOHN DEERE CLASSIC WINNER
In The Bag
Driver – Titleist 909D3
Fairway wood – Titleist 906F2
Hybrid – Titleist 585H
Irons – Titleist 755
Wedges – Vokey Special Grind & Vokey 200 Series
Putter – Odyssey White Hot
Ball – Titleist ProV1
Par 4 excellence
Stricker ranked first for scoring on the par-four holes all week (he also ranked second for scoring on the par-fives). That in itself puts any player in a strong position, but in the final round one shot on the par-four sixth sent him soaring to the top of the leaderboard.
It was a wedge from 98 yards and Stricker holed it for eagle. Minutes later he was joined at the head of the field by Zach Johnson, but the pattern for the final round was set and Stricker was on his way.
Learning to win
Golf fans love to debate the extent to which players choke or don’t choke on the back nine on Sunday – and Stricker has long been tagged a choker.
It was argued that his win at Colonial in May was largely due to him being up against at least one player (Tim Clark) who choked more than he did.
Winning on the main tours is a tough task, but experience helps and it certainly appeared that way on Sunday as Stricker calmly coped with the late threat of Tim Petrovic.
Having won the Crowne Plaza Invitational earlier this year, Stricker’s win last week made him a double champion in 2009 – but it is not the first time he has achieved the relatively rare feat. His first double came in 1996 when he won the Kemper Open and Western Open.
In between those years Stricker’s career path has been like an upside down bell curve, but his remarkable return to the top of the game continues apace.
He was voted PGA Comeback Player of the Year in 2006, played even better in 2007 and won the title for a second time, and is now on course to enjoy the best year of his golfing life.
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