By Bob Denney, PGA of America
Martin Kaymer got a bird's-eye view of The Highlands Course Monday at Atlanta Athletic Club, and declared that it was ready to challenge a world-class field in the 93rd PGA Championship this August.
The defending PGA Champion from Germany, one of only two major champions currently among the top 10 in the Official World Golf Rankings, predicted before a Media Day audience that this year's Champion from a world-class field competing Aug. 11-14, will post a winning score in "single digits."
Kaymer reported that he finished with a 3-under-par 67 on the 7,467-yard, par-70 layout in a practice round that convinced PGA of America President Allen Wronowski.
"It was pretty doggone impressive," said Wronowski of Kaymer's round. "He drives it eight miles; pound per yard he has to be one of the longest players ever because he can't weigh but about 155 and he hits it 320. Between that, he's got the touch of a surgeon around the greens, he's solid, he's zoned in, he's got great control of his irons."
Kaymer was asked to compare the playing conditions of his playoff victory last year at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wis., and what he discovered at Atlanta Athletic Club, which hosted the 1981 and 2001 PGA Championships.
"I think Whistling Straits was a British Open golf course with good weather," said Kaymer. "When I came there on Monday, I felt fantastic straight away, and being in Atlanta, obviously, it's a very different golf course. I don't think that it's going to be windy at all. It's going to be very hot, that's for sure.
The Highlands Course played to 7,213 yards in 2001, when David Toms captured the PGA Championship with a 15-under-par 265 total. Kaymer was 11-under-par last year at Whistling Straits to capture his first major title.
"I can see why David Toms won here, for example," said Kaymer. "He's not one of the longest hitters on Tour, but he's very straight. However, I don't see a guy winning here with 15-, 16- or 18-under par. I struggle to see that. I'm sure they're going to change the rough a little bit, so you get even more penalized when you're in there. The greens are going to be firmer and faster."
Kaymer said that the past year "was fantastic" for him and his family.
"That win, my first major, hopefully one of many, has not only changed my year but it has changed my life so far," he said. "When I became No. 1 in Europe, everybody asked me, so what was bigger, being No. 1 in Europe or winning a major? It's tough to compare, but obviously winning a major, especially on a different continent, in America, was huge, and it's changed my life, my family as well. But all in a positive way."
Kaymer was the third consecutive internationally born player to win a PGA Championship, which last year featured a U.S. major-record 73 foreign-born players representing 22 countries. The Official World Golf Rankings now boasts six European players among the top 10.
"I think everything started when Padraig Harrington won in America (the 2008 PGA Championship)," said Kaymer. "I think he started us believing that we can win even the big tournaments in America and not only Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. That was kind of like the start for us to trust in ourselves and to believe in our abilities."
Tickets for the 93rd PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club are available by visiting www.pga.com or by calling the PGA Ticketing Center at 1-800-PGA-GOLF (742-4653).
About the PGA Championship
The PGA Championship features the strongest field in golf and is considered one of the largest sporting events in the world. Since 1916, golf's best professionals have been competing for the PGA Championship's coveted Wanamaker Trophy; including past champions Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson, Vijay Singh, Davis Love III, Jack Nicklaus, Sam Snead, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan and Walter Hagen.
About the PGA of America
Celebrating its 95th year, The PGA of America has maintained a twofold mission of its founders: to establish and elevate the standards of the profession and to grow interest and participation in the game of golf.
By establishing and elevating the standards of the golf profession through world-class education, career services, marketing and research programs, The PGA enables its professionals to maximize their performance in their respective career paths and showcases them as experts in the game and in a multi-billion dollar golf industry.
By creating and delivering dramatic world-class championships and exciting and enjoyable promotions that are viewed as the best of their class in the golf industry, The PGA of America elevates the public's interest in the game, the desire to play more golf, and ensures accessibility to the game for everyone, everywhere. The PGA of America brand represents the very best in golf.