Kaymer backed by Langer for Ryder Cup

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The Independent Online

Bernhard Langer last night declared that his compatriot Martin Kaymer is ready for the Ryder Cup after seeing him scorch to a 63 and into a five-stroke halfway lead at the BMW Munich Open.

"I don't think it's too early," said Langer of the 23-year-old dubbed his "Herr Apparent", who with victory on Sunday could leap from 10th to sixth in the race for places in Nick Faldo's team. "He is a winner and he has proved that. He hits it extremely long and very straight, but what was most impressive today was his putting.

"It's great to see we have some youngsters who can hopefully take on the torch for golf in Germany in the future. I told him 'you're very aggressive, but you're smart at the same time like Tiger Woods or Phil Mickelson'. He's got an old head on young shoulders. Going by the last two days I don't think there any limits for him if he keeps that up."

Fifty-year-old Langer, 24 himself when he first played against the Americans in 1981, made the cut on two under, but is 11 strokes behind. And with nobody even close at the halfway stage – England's Benn Barham and Frenchman Francois Delamontagne are his closest challengers on eight under – the one German trophy to have eluded Langer in his glittering career could well be in the hands of his young playing partner at the end of the weekend.

Kaymer, who produced his display despite concerns about the health of his mother, was last season's Rookie of the Year on the European Tour, then won his first title in Abu Dhabi in January and just two weeks later was runner-up to Tiger Woods in Dubai – after a birdie-birdie-eagle finish.

The last of his nine birdies yesterday came on the long 18th after a 269-yard two-iron went through the green.

"I'm hitting the ball really long this week – I don't know why and it was a little scary to be honest," he said. "Like yesterday on the eight hole it was 190 metres (209 yards) and I hit a seven-iron and it was pin-high. To play in your own country with all of the support is awesome."

He and Langer spoke in private after signing their cards and when asked about the conversation Kaymer replied: "I asked him if he saw anything I can improve.

"He told me 'you can improve your wedges a little bit' and he offered his help."

Langer commented: "That's how you learn."

Nick Faldo, meanwhile, is certain that the American Ryder Cup team will unite in the absence of Tiger Woods, who announced earlier this week that he will miss the rest of the season to have knee surgery to repair his anterior cruciate ligament.

"On the one side it could be a loss, but on the other they know that they don't have the option to bank on Tiger this year and I'm sure they'll all pull together because of that," Europe's captain said. "I don't think it's a given that it improves our chances. The best player in the world over 18 holes in match play can be very vulnerable – players raise their game in that kind of situation. Ultimately we'll just have to wait and see and, in the meantime, let's hope that Tiger makes a swift recovery.

"I didn't have any suspicions last week that it was as serious as it actually was and I am relatively shocked. I am amazed at what he did. To go two months without tournament play with minimal practice – I assume he could practise his short game and putting, but apparently he only started his long game the week before – and nobody knows how much pain he was in."

Asked whether in view of how Woods captured his 14th major he now considered him the greatest of all time Faldo replied: "I think he needs to get beyond Jack's record [18] to claim that, but he's certainly on track."