By Mark Lamport-Stokes
UNIVERSITY PLACE, Washington (Reuters) - Martin Kaymer will defend his U.S. Open title this week at Chambers Bay but is happy for players such as Masters champion Jordan Spieth and world number one Rory McIlroy to command the spotlight.
Germany's Kaymer confirmed his status as one of the game's very best by coasting to his second major victory, by eight shots in last year's U.S. Open at Pinehurst, though he has since failed to replicate that commanding form.
"A lot of times I'm under the radar, I feel like, which is fine," Kaymer told reporters on Tuesday while preparing for Thursday's opening round. "The other guys, they should get a lot of credit for what they have done.
"Obviously Jordan, what he has done this year, must have felt for the others how I played Pinehurst. It was impressive to watch (at the Masters) that he didn't miss many putts. He played very aggressive down the stretch the last few holes."
American Spieth, at the age of 21, clinched his first major title with a stunning wire-to-wire victory by four shots at the Masters, matching Tiger Woods' tournament record low of 18-under 270 for 72 holes.
"Then what Rickie (Fowler) did at the Players, how brave he played," said Kaymer, referring to American Fowler's stunning playoff win at the Players Championship in May when he finished regulation play eagle-birdie-birdie.
"And then obviously Rory (who won the last two major titles of 2014). Those guys, they're all four or five years younger than me so they should get the credit for what they have achieved.
"My win was already 12 months ago. What they've done more recently is more important than my win last year."
Kaymer, a three-times winner on the PGA Tour who claimed his first major crown at the 2010 PGA Championship, readily admits that his form over the past 12 months has fallen short of his lofty standards.
"I'm not 100 percent satisfied with the way I performed in certain tournaments," said the 30-year-old who missed the cut at the Masters in April.
"This year there was so much focus on the Masters ... I was focusing too much on only one tournament.
"I practiced a lot and I did a lot of fitness. That was the main issue when I got to Augusta, that I was almost tired by entering the tournament. It was a little bit of mis-planning, and it took me two or three weeks to recover from all of that.
"You would think after 10 years you know what you're doing, but clearly I didn't."
(Editing by Andrew Both)