Kaymer: Woods still ‘the man’

Woods has started just two events in 2015, shooting a career-worst score of 82 to miss the cut in the first of them and withdrawing through injury after just 11 holes of the second on February 5.

That led to the 14-time major winner taking a break from competition to work on his game, during which time he dropped outside the world’s top 100 for the first time since September 1996, a slide which continued on Monday as he fell from 104th to 111th.

Woods has not won a major since the 2008 US Open and the last of his four Masters wins was a decade ago, with the 39-year-old only confirming on Friday that he would compete at Augusta.

Asked if he could imagine what it was like to be in Woods’s position, US Open champion Kaymer said: “To a certain extent, but who really knows what is going on in his head.

“I hope he’s happy. I hope he’s fine. I hope he will play well this week. But what would bother me a lot is all the speculation. You don’t have a choice; you will read about it somewhere. You will hear about it because you socialise with people.

“So mentally it must be quite exhausting and we know how important the mental part is in golf. It’s difficult and some things I don’t find very fair. You know, you should just let him be. Let him play golf, what he likes to do.

“Sometimes I look at it and find it quite sad how people treat the whole subject. It shouldn’t be like this in my opinion. But that’s how it is unfortunately. That is how a lot of people make their money and some athletes, they suffer because of that.

“Hopefully he’s strong enough, he has people to talk to, and he finds a way to compete as good as he can. Because we all know when he’s around, somehow it does make us play better, as well.

“I never experienced someone who played better than him. In my era, I never played with Seve (Ballesteros) and I never played with Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, those guys. So for me, what I have seen and what I have experienced, he’s the man.”