Who is that masked man?
Don't worry if you don't recognize him, most German's don't either
Published on Monday, Feb. 28, 2011 08:24AM EST Last updated on Monday, Feb. 28, 2011 08:33AM EST
ANNONYMOUS NO. 1: You would think that winning a golf major, the Ryder Cup and becoming the new world number one would do wonders for Martin Kaymer’s image in his native Germany.
But unlike his fellow German athletes such as former tennis champions Steffi Graf, soccer star Michael Ballack and seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher - Kaymer’s own rise to the top of his sport has largely gone unnoticed in his home country.
Whereas Graf and Schumacher captivated Germans with their exploits on the courts and the racing tracks, boosting their sports’ popularity to new heights, Kaymer has quietly shot up the rankings, enjoying only occasional coverage.
Where the others had TV spots, front pages and fly-on-the-wall coverage of their events, Kaymer is much more low-profile, never making it on the best-selling Bild newspaper’s front page. In fact, even this morning there is no mention of Kaymer’s exploits on Bild’s main page and even within the sports section, you have to plow through all the soccer coverage to what amounts to the “other” sports section to find an article about his exploits this weekend.
The “Rhein-Zeitung” newspaper has a front page photo of Kaymer with the headline “Kaymer ist der Beste” but it’s a regional newspaper with a paid circulation of 205-thousand. Another regional daily, the “Passauer Neue Presse” also has a mention of Kaymer on its front page, however, the large headline and photo spread is dedicated to the men’s ski jumping team which captured bronze at the World Ski Championships over the weekend.
“In Germany, it’s very difficult to get (fan) respect and recognition because we have only soccer and Formula One which are pretty big and as a golf player, you barely get recognized at all,” said Kaymer. “I’m trying to do what Steffi Graf and Boris Becker did in tennis. If we can do the same with golf in Germany, that would be very nice.”
It’s no wonder Kaymer almost chose soccer as a profession before switching his focus to golf as a 16 year old.
Only recently, however, a German consultancy was hired to help boost Kaymer’s profile domestically with a series of media events prior to last year’s Ryder Cup as his image within the country was lagging behind his international success.
It’s hoped that by emulating his role model and compatriot Bernhard Langer, who became the first official world number one in 1986, that will now change.
TOP HEAVY: Kaymer’s ascent to No. 1 and Luke Donald’s move into the top three means that for the first time in almost 19 years, Europeans fill the top four positions in the world golf rankings (Kaymer, Lee Westwood, Donald and Graeme McDowell). That hasn’t happened since Britons Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo and Spaniards Jose Maria Olazabal and Seve Ballesteros led the way on March 15, 1992.
Tiger Woods finds himself fifth in the world, his lowest ranking since the week before he won the 1997 Masters.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT: Royal Bank of Canada knows how to pick a winner. One of its sponsored golfers, Luke Donald, won the Accenture Match Play Championship on Sunday, wearing a black jacket emblazoned on the left sleeve with the Canadian bank's golden lion logo. Another RBC man, Matt Kuchar, took the consolation final (or third-place match) Sunday. They both carry their clubs around in a RBC-branded bag. Overseas, RBCer Morgan Pressel took fifth place in the LPGA Tour's HSBC Women's Champions in Singapore.
Never mind that fellow RBC brand ambassadors Jim Furyk crashed in the first round of the Match Play and Ernie Els didn't make it past the second. It was still a great week for RBC and its visibility. The TV time its logo received during this one week alone must surely make the folks at RBC think they made a wise investment.
NO RSVP: Don’t bother looking for Tiger Woods at this week’s Honda Classic as the PGA begins is Florida swing. Many began wondering out loud whether he should consider a late entry into the event following his quick dismissal from last week’s Match Play tournament. With PGA National a short drive from his soon-to-be new residence on Jupiter Island, the event seemed a logical choice. With nine fairly inconsistent rounds of golf under his belt, one thing is clear - the newly minted world No. 5 needs to play more golf... at least that’s the assessment of Greg Stoda from the Palm Beach Post.
“Perhaps the tournament conflicts with time a recently divorced father has set aside to spend with his children. Or perhaps there’s golf-related business to which Woods must tend to during the first week of next month.
But something has to change, because Woods is doing himself no good doing what he’s doing now. Woods needn’t play more events to satisfy PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, who wants him to do so for the game’s bottom-line economic purposes. Nor need he play more events to appease a title sponsor or a tournament director.
He should play more events for the completely selfish reason of improving his game.
At the peak of his greatness, Woods was the ultimate closer. No more.”
“The truth of the matter is that Woods is an easy target these days, because he’s in constant danger of self-destructing. There’s no consistency to his swing. He can’t formulate a game plan, because he can’t count on himself to execute it. And he can’t count on himself to execute a game plan, because he isn’t placing himself under the gun with any regularity.
What’s he afraid of?”
WHAT AM I BID: Interesting item up for bids on eBay this past week... described as a “vintage paper admission badge ticket” it was issued on April 21, 1942 for a charity match between Bob Hope and Ben Hogan at the Dallas Country Club to benefit the American Red Cross. The seller notes that its in good condition with some light surface wear. Bidding started at $9 and when the electronic gavel final came down, the item sold for just over $109 (US).
“When you hit the Florida Swing, I think you realize that Augusta is just around the corner. Florida kind of symbolizes the beginning of majors season. It’s when you want your game to start peaking, and you realize the season’s really underway.” - Hunter Mahan
Jeff Brooke contributed to this report; files from Reuters were used in this report