A different class
Mark Roe says Martin Kaymer is a special sportsman - and there's more to come from the young German.
Last Updated: 01/12/10 4:56pm
You don't achieve greatness in solo sport unless you are different. Martin Kaymer is certainly that.
The German is a special golfer and it has been a particularly special year for him. He won his first major title, he was on the winning Ryder Cup team and last weekend he established himself as Europe's number one golfer by winning the Race to Dubai.
The first time his talent caught my attention was back in 2008 when he won the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. It was only his second season on the European Tour and he was five or six shots clear going into the last round, but bogeys on four, five and six saw that lead trimmed.
Even though he was on the verge of throwing away his maiden European Tour victory, there was no sign of panic in his play. He was clearly going through a learning process, but he remained calm and went on to see the tournament out. I remember thinking: 'this is somebody a little bit different'.
Not long afterwards, he went to Dubai and chased down Tiger Woods when it looked the world number one had an unassailable lead. Kaymer finished birdie-birdie-eagle and only lost by a shot.
At that point it was clear that this was somebody who was not concerned about playing safe and maximising his prize money. He was just playing for trophies and for glory - and that marked him out.
We saw a similar story at this year's Open Championship when he started chasing down Louis Oosthuizen. I thought he was going to win his first major that day, but it was only a matter of time that came along at the PGA Championship. The putt he holed on the last green was the highlight of his year. That victory was the first of many. I'm convinced he will win many more majors and there's no doubt he will be the world number one at some point.
His success has been down to a combination of factors; particularly the assuredness in his game and the consistency of his golf. He has every component you need, but his greatest attribute is his mental strength. He is wise beyond his years and looks like he is going to win every time he plays.
There have been blips along the way. His go-karting accident last season was, in my opinion, plain stupidity and I believe he has learned from that.
I understand that people don't want to grow up too quickly or take the fun out of their lives. Golf cannot be the sole function in a player's existence, but at the same time you mustn't do things that might jeopardise your career. He escaped with two broken toes, but it could have been worse.
He'll have learned from that, but perhaps that love of speed is integral to becoming a top golfer. The best sportsmen have always driven Ferraris and Porches because they love the adrenaline and the thrill of fast cars.
What I would say is that it's perhaps wiser to have a nice car on the drive, instead of hurtling around a track in a go-kart!
Four years ago, Kaymer was a German pro playing on the EDP Tour and now he is right at the top of the game. That's how quickly life can change if you have skill and you are willing to make sacrifices to succeed in sport.
And I expect him to be at the top of the game for some time to come. I think it's quite feasible he'll win another major next year and if he is standing over a putt to win a big tournament, you'd back him to hole it.
It also wouldn't surprise me if he went over to this week's Chevron World Challenge, where 17 of the world's best players are lying in wait, and wins again. In fact, I'd see him as one of the favourites.
This event is really an exhibition match for some of the world's top players and it will make fabulous viewing - although I'm not sure it's fair that a tournament with such a small field should carry world ranking points. The same can be said for the 12-man Nedbank Golf Challenge, which is also live on Sky Sports this week.
However, when we've all spent the week shivering and shovelling snow off our driveways, it will be nice to turn on the television and watch the world's best golfers finishing the season in style in the sunshine.
Both tournaments carry enormous prize funds with the winner of the Chevron set to pick up more than $1million - nice work if you can get it.
But I'll tell you one thing for certain. Martin Kaymer will not be thinking about that winners' cheque. All he's thinking about is another championship and another trophy.
That's what makes him the player he is.