HOYLAKE, England (AP) — No one had a brighter smile than Martin Kaymer when he stepped onto the practice green outside the clubhouse at Royal Liverpool.
Yes, he is the U.S. Open champion.
His country is much more.
Kaymer celebrated Sunday night as Germany captured its first World Cup since 1990 by beating Argentina in extra time.
Now if he can bring some of that magic to the links of Hoylake for the British Open. Kaymer was the first to bring up the lack of German success at golf’s oldest championship after winning at Pinehurst No. 2. He made reference to the “German Grand Slam,” for this is the only major his country does not have. Kaymer previously won the PGA Championship, while Bernhard Langer is a two-time Masters champion.
German history is limited in the British Open. Here are five moments that stand out:
5. FRANK KECK
Not to suggest that Germany has a sparse golfing history in the British Open before Langer came along, but among the first players listed in the records was Frank Keck, an amateur who finished dead last among 96 players in St. Andrews in 1957.
He is listed as being from Germany.
Turns out Keck was a champion golfer from Illinois and a lieutenant in the Air Force. According to newspaper accounts, he happened to be stationed in Germany.
Keck made news as one of the qualifiers for The Open.
Alas, he opened with an 83 and followed with an 82 to miss the cut by 18 shots.
4. MARTIN KAYMER
One year after winning the PGA Championship, and still No. 3 in the world, Kaymer opened with rounds of 68-69 at Royal St. George’s in 2011 and was just one shot behind Darren Clarke going into the weekend.
He closed with rounds of 73-73 to tie for 11th, and that was as close as Kaymer has come to the claret jug. He tied for seventh a year earlier at St. Andrews, but he was 10 shots behind Louis Oosthuizen.
His hope this year is that he is playing very well, and Pinehurst No. 2 (where he won the U.S. Open) was firm and fast like a links course.
3. ALEX CEJKA
Alex Cejka’s story is not common in this sport of privilege. He was 9 when he though his father was taking him on a holiday, which included swimming across a river that was part of the Iron Curtain to flee Czechoslovakia. They settled in Munich, and he became a German citizen, and eventually a professional golfer.
This road led to Royal Lytham & St. Annes in 2001 when Cejka shared the 54-hole lead with David Duval, Ian Woosnam and Bernhard Langer. It was an exciting journey in life and on the links. Cejka made only three pars over his last 14 holes in the third round. He led by as many as two shots until bogeys on three of the last four holes.
“It’s going to be exciting,” he said of the final round.
It was for Duval, who captured his only major. Not so much for Cejka, who shot a 73 and tied for 13th.
2. HERMAN TISSIES
Tissies was a German amateur who never actually played in the British Open. But he did try to qualify in 1950 at Royal Troon, and it was going along fine until he reached the shortest hole on the course – the par-3 eighth, known as the “Postage Stamp.”
He found a bunker off the tee, and that’s where his troubles began.
According to various reports, he went from bunker to bunker to bunker, going into all three of them at various stages, taking five shots to get out of one of them. One Scottish writer referred to it as a “horrible species of Ping-Pong played between the bunkers.”
If that wasn’t enough, he three-putted when he finally reached the green. Tissies made a 15 on the hole and shot 92.
Records do not show a score for the second day of qualifying, suggesting that Tissies did not return.
1. BERNHARD LANGER
Langer was a 23-year-old German when he first featured in any major championship at Royal St. George’s in 1981. He was two shots out of the lead going into the weekend, when a group of Americans gathered around to find out more about him. One of them asked Langer to name the greatest golfer in German history.
“I think,” Langer replied, “it is I.”
And he still is. Langer was runner-up that year by four shots to Bill Rogers. Three years later, he tied for second behind Seve Ballesteros at St. Andrews. He was tied for the 54-hole lead with David Graham the next year at Royal St. George’s, only to close with a 75 as Sandy Lyle won. And in 2001 at Royal Lytham & St. Annes, he was part of a four-way tie for the lead and played in the final group with David Duval and tied for third.
He never got that claret jug. But two green jackets, a Ryder Cup captaincy and a spot in the Hall of Fame isn’t too bad for a country not known for its golf.