Martin Kaymer focused on Match Play final

February, 26, 2011

MARANA, Ariz. -- I had the opportunity to spend some time with Martin Kaymer last week and among the many things I asked him was this simple query: "Who is the best golfer in the world?"

His answer was both predictable and politically correct.

"I think the No. 1 in the world, Lee Westwood," he replied. "The way he's played golf over the past two years. He was so close to winning majors; the way he played TPC Sawgrass last year, he was so close. So because he's played so consistently, he's No. 1."

Considering his deference to the Official World Golf Ranking formula, I was even more interested to ask Kaymer the same question Saturday, after he reached the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. That's because no matter how he fares in Sunday's championship match against Luke Donald, when the newest ranking is formulated Monday morning, it will show Kaymer as the 14th top-ranked golfer since its inception in 1986.

So, Martin, tell us now: "Who is the best golfer in the world?"

"Still Lee Westwood," he said, then paused and added, "until Monday."

For such a stoic guy on the course, Kaymer can actually be quite an engaging personality. That response drew some laughs from the assembled media, but when pressed for an answer about the world's best golfer starting Monday, he was finally forced to put an end to the humility.

"Well, when the rankings say that I'm the No. 1, then I'm the best player in the world," he explained. "And if they say so, then that's the truth."

They will say so whether Kaymer defeats Donald in Sunday's 18-hole final or not, but the ascendancy will feel hollow and anticlimactic should the impending top-ranked player fail to clinch his sixth worldwide title since the beginning of last year.

It's a notion he is struggling with already.

"I'm in the middle of the tournament," he said. "It would be fantastic [Sunday] if I could win, then it really feels like I deserve to be the No. 1. I'm not saying that I don't deserve it, but it would make me feel better if I would win instead of finishing second [Sunday]. So, yes, it is a little strange."

Much like many observers don't often believe the Bowl Championship Series is the greatest way of determining the best college football team, there are those who believe golf's world ranking is similarly flawed. The system arranges players using a mathematical algorithm over a two-year rolling period, failing to take opinion into account.

Kaymer, though, is among those who still believes the computers get it right. And so sometime next week, after he's had a day or two to digest it, he'll finally come to the realization that he is now the best player in the world.

"Maybe on Tuesday or Wednesday, when I see my name up there," he said. "I'll definitely take a picture of that moment."

Jason Sobel is a golf writer for He can be reached at

Jason Sobel | email

ESPN Senior Writer


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