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Germany's Martin Kaymer still trying to solve Masters puzzle

Former world No. 1 has been working on draw for Augusta National
March 24, 2012 - 1:14 am
Martin Kaymer hits on the practice range during practice for the 2011 PGA Championship.  Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Martin Kaymer hits on the practice range during practice for the 2011 PGA Championship.
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By David Westin |

It’s been four years and Martin Kaymer is still searching for answers – and his first made cut – at Augusta National Golf Club.

He’s far from discouraged, though. It’s a hurdle the former No. 1-ranked player in the world embraces.

“The great thing is that it’s the biggest challenge that I have,” Kaymer said. “I look forward to going to Augusta and try to battle that challenge.”

At least Kaymer has kept his sense of humor when it comes to his struggles at Augusta National. Last year, he decided to change things up and take three weeks off before the Masters instead of playing the week before in Houston.

The results weren’t any better, but he’s trying it again this year.

“So far, it hasn’t worked in Augusta,” he said with a laugh.

At age 27, Kaymer has an outstanding record worldwide.

He has 10 wins (including the 2010 PGA Championship and the 2011 WGC-HSBC Champions) and spent eight weeks at No. 1 in the world (from Feb. 28, 2011 to April 23).

At the Masters, it’s a different story. Kaymer is 18 over par for his eight rounds and has yet to play on the weekend.

In his first three years, at least he was close to making the cut – he missed by one shot in 2008 and by two in both 2009 and 2010. Last year, he missed it by five shots after rounds of 78-72.

Before last year’s Masters, Kaymer, whose natural shot is a fade (a left-to-right shot), started working on hitting a draw (a right-to-left shot) off the tee, with his eye on the Masters.

A draw is the preferred shot off the tee on Augusta National’s dogleg-left holes (Nos. 2, 5, 9, 10, 13 and 14). “Obviously, that’s important at Augusta,” Kaymer said. “There are a few tee shots that don’t really suit my eye. You have those golf courses once in awhile.”

It might not have showed in his scores at the 2011 Masters, but Kaymer did have some success drawing the ball, and he is even more adept at it a year later.

“I feel better about my game,” Kaymer said. “I can shape the ball more these days than last year, so it shouldn’t be that much of a problem this year.”

The low-key Kaymer was under the microscope at last year’s Masters. His ranking as No. 1 player in the world and never making the cut only added to the pressure the German faced during Masters Week.

When he missed the cut, it was the first time since 1997 that the player ranked No. 1 in the world at the time of the Masters (Greg Norman) missed the cut. In the 25-year history of the ranking, it has happened four times now, counting Kaymer’s early exit last year.

“This year will definitely be a bit more relaxed I guess, yeah,” Kaymer said.

He also hopes to benefit from some talks he’s had – and some more he plans to have – with fellow German Bernhard Langer, a two-time Masters champion.

“We sat down last year on Saturday and Sunday (of Masters Week) and we talked a little bit,” Kaymer said. “We definitely are going to play a practice round together on Tuesday or Wednesday.”