He may not have been carried down Granny Clark's Wynd on a sedan chair by the jubilant masses here in St Andrews but Martin Kaymer, Europe's returning Ryder Cup hero, has certainly been given a warm reception ahead of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship over the Old Course, Kingsbarns and Carnoustie. His back will be red raw with all the congratulatory slapping.
Compared to the furious, bubbling golfing cauldron of Chicago, this week's celebrity infused grin-fest will have all the boiling intensity of a sewing bee in the parish kirk but, with a hefty purse of $5m and a stellar cast of global performers, Kaymer is relishing a return to the individual stage after his dramatics in the team theatre.
The 27-year-old's putt on the 18th green at Medinah on Sunday, which clinched a one-hole victory over Steve Stricker in the singles and completed Europe's astonishing Ryder Cup comeback against the shell-shocked Americans, remains, unsurprisingly, the talk of the toon. Kaymer, winner of the Dunhill Links event two years ago, has had time to mull over his match-winning role and absorb the triumphant outpourings of its aftermath.
Having taken over the flag from Bernhard Langer, Kaymer remains Germany's standard bearer throughout the world and his exploits in recent years have helped to bolster the game in his homeland. There's still plenty of work to do, though, and Kaymer remains somewhat miffed that the magnitude of the Ryder Cup win had, in certain sections of the media, been played down in his own backyard. "I am very grateful, being where I am from, and I'm very happy I get so much support in Germany," said the 2010 US PGA champion, as he settled down to get a few things off his chest. "I was very disappointed, though, when I watched the last two or three holes on the German TV channel. It was the way the commentators were talking about it, there was just no excitement. It was like 'and he's standing on the 18th green now and he's got a very important putt and oh yeah, it drops in and that's very nice'. They were just so flat.
"For me, that is very difficult to understand. There is something very big happening and some people just don't get it even though you're trying to do the right thing, not only for yourself but for the country and for golf in Germany. People are very happy about it, obviously. The respect and knowledge is there but this was a very special chance that we had, and still have, to make golf grow in Germany. The responsibility is always on my side and [the media] tell me what to do but they don't do the same thing, they just don't do it.
"I was the only German playing in the Ryder Cup and the last one was Bernhard. But the way it was commentated was very sad. I was close to calling them and saying 'look, what should I do? You saw me getting excited, when are you going to get excited?'. They just don't grab it."
Kaymer certainly grabbed the moment at the weekend as showed nerves of steel under intolerable tension to deliver the cup-winning point. Two decades earlier, his celebrated countryman Langer had the hopes of a continent on his shoulders during the 1991 Ryder Cup at Kiawah Island but missed a putt similar to the one Kaymer had on Sunday to give the USA the victory.
"I did think about that but it's in the past, 21 years ago," added Kaymer. "If you stick to the facts of the putt, it was the easiest one you could have. It was an uphill, inside line. If you forget about the Ryder Cup, it's a putt we putt millions of times. The thing about it is that it's a fine line between being a hero or the biggest idiot. And fortunately for me it went the right way. I was very surprised when I got here how many people congratulated me. Yes, I made the last out but it wasn't only me. I only got one point, even though I only played twice, but there were other guys that inspired the team a lot more than me."
One of those inspirational figures was Paul Lawrie, the rejuvenated Scot who aided the European assault on Sunday with a 5&3 win over Brandt Snedeker. Like Kaymer, Lawrie has been showered with plaudits at the home of golf. "I can hardly get a ball hit for people coming up and sort of slapping me on the back, it's been unbelievably nice," said Lawrie, who won the Dunhill Links title in 2001 and will partner eldest son Craig in the Pro-Am affair. The welcome in St Andrews has been slightly different to one experienced on the fraught fairways of Medinah as the partisan galleries cranked up the volume.
"I didn't get abused [by spectators] but they were shouting stuff like 'top it', 'shank it' or 'you're a loser Lawrie' on every shot," he said. "Every single shot that you hit, that's what you got. But Jose [Maria Olazabal] was very clear about it in team meetings and told us not to look at them or take them on. He didn't want us to react to them and it was just a case of hitting your shot and walking on. It's pretty tough when someone is screaming and blowing in your ear that you're a loser. But that made it all the more satisfying on Sunday night when you're standing with the Ryder Cup in front of you and they're not."
Things should be a lot easier on the ears for Lawrie this week.
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