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Sports

Kaymer is Germany's unassuming, and unsung, golf star

Despite over two years of consistently top-notch play at world class tournaments, Kaymer's triumphs on the golf course are little known, and even less admired, in his native Germany.

Kaymer makes a shot

Kaymer is known for solidity on and off the course

For the second time ever, a German golfer is representing Europe in the continent's biennial team battle with the United States, the Ryder Cup, which takes place this weekend in Wales.

For the last two years, Martin Kaymer has consistently said that making the Ryder Cup is his main goal as a golfer. That moment has arrived - and now all eyes are on the red-hot world sensation from the western German city of Duesseldorf.

Judging from Kaymer's reception abroad, one would think he was produced in a factory somewhere in Stuttgart or Munich.

In response to his playoff victory at the PGA Championship in August, almost all US commentators invoked images of German production methods in their descriptions of Kaymer, especially in response to the way he conducted himself in the playoff against Bubba Watson.

Kaymer poses with the Wannamaker Trophy

Kaymer's first major victory surprised even his supporters

And indeed, Kaymer's performance and demeanor are nothing if not solid. He has been in the top 10 in four of the last five major tournaments, a run no golfer has achieved since Tiger Woods in 2006-2007.

Kaymer's coach, Guenter Kessler, singles out the 25-year-old's maturity and work ethic as two qualities that explain his consistently solid performance.

"When [Martin] began taking lessons from me at the age of 12, he didn't stand out among his peers right away, and we certainly had no reason to expect that he would one day become one of the world's finest players. But, from the very beginning, we did notice that he worked harder than the others," Kessler told Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung.

Kessler also said that Kaymer's generally temperate response to praise was very helpful during his development in Germany and beyond.

"Praise doesn't shake him, as is often the case with promising young German talents. He doesn't believe in the hype. The people in his corner know when to offer praise and when not. He is ranked [sixth] in the world right now. We don't have to get ahead of ourselves. There's room above that."

Unsung in Germany

Despite his indisputably world-class performance, however, Martin Kaymer is essentially unknown at home.

After winning the PGA Championship in August, one of golf's four "Majors" - akin to a Grand Slam in tennis - there were no headlines on Germany's main news websites or in papers congratulating the newfound hero.

Bernhard Langer hoists the Ryder Cup in 2004 at Oakland Hills GC in Michigan

Will Kaymer be only the second German, after Bernhard Langer, to win the Ryder Cup?

Absurdly enough, even the local newspaper in Duesseldorf, where Kaymer is from, made no mention of his victory, choosing instead to use its sports page to inform readers of trades in and around the German Bundesliga soccer league.

But this doesn't seem to bother Kaymer. He is well aware that, in Germany, sports heroes generally play soccer.

Kaymer is himself an avid fan of the Bundesliga, as any perceptive - or any German - fan will recognize from his equipment: He carries his trusty FC Cologne towel along with him during all tournaments to give him "a sense of home, no matter where I am."

When asked by Cologne reporters - at half-time during a Bundesliga game against Hoffenheim last week - if he would have his towel along with him this weekend in Wales, he replied:

"Yeah, of course, I've got it along with me most of the time. And next week, when [Europe] takes on the United States in the Ryder Cup, the biggest tournament of my life, I will have my towel in my bag."

Author: Gabriel Borrud

Editor: Susan Houlton

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