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PGA Notebook

Kaymer eating this stuff up

’10 champ hosts dinner and supplies the knives

By Michael Whitmer
Globe Staff / August 11, 2011

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. - For a few hours Tuesday night, Christmas came early for Martin Kaymer. Gifts, toasts, even a traditional Christmas dinner.

Kaymer, as the defending PGA Championship winner, served as host of the past champions dinner at Atlanta Athletic Club. There were 17 former winners in attendance, and they sampled something Kaymer said doesn’t even have an American translation.

“It is called knödel in Germany,’’ said Kaymer, describing the meal as goose with red cabbage. “I looked it up on the Internet and it said dumpling, but it’s not really dumpling. It’s different; you just don’t have it here. But I heard the people liked it.’’

Kaymer broke through at Whistling Straits last year, beating Bubba Watson in a three-hole playoff. He became the second German to win a major championship, following Bernhard Langer, and has had a decent follow-up year: one win on the European Tour, a runner-up finish in the Match Play Championship, and a tie for 12th at the British Open.

He brought back the 35-pound Wanamaker Trophy this week, but also came bearing gifts for the past champions, per tradition. His selection?

“My gift to the men was a Swiss Army knife that I always wanted to have as a kid, but I never got one, because obviously I was too young,’’ Kaymer said. “My parents didn’t allow me to have one, so now it was a chance to get one.’’

Bunker mentality Dustin Johnson, who missed out on a spot in last year’s playoff when he was given a two-stroke penalty on the 72d hole, was asked if he looks at the rules sheets that are handed out to players before the tournament any differently after what happened at Whistling Straits.

“No, I’ve never looked at one and probably never will,’’ he said.

Really?

“I know the rules,’’ he said. “The only time you ever look at it is if it’s preferred lies [lift, clean, and place] or not, and that’s the only time it really matters.’’

Even if he wanted to, Johnson couldn’t put the miscue in that 18th-hole bunker out of his mind. He is shown the image of himself hitting the shot almost daily.

“It seems all the pictures that people want me to sign are of me hitting that shot,’’ Johnson said. “It’s like, thank you.’’

Watch out Tiger Woods might be feeling good about his chances this week, but he’ll begin play this morning with one less endorsement deal. Tag Heuer announced recently that it was cutting ties with Woods after a 10-year partnership. The Swiss watchmaker stopped promoting Woods’s image in the US once his infidelity scandal surfaced in December 2009. Gillette, Gatorade, Accenture, and AT&T have also ended business relationships with Woods. In a statement, Tag Heuer chief executive Jean-Christophe Babin said, “We are confident that Tiger will eventually regain full trust with the public, and that his huge talent and mental strength will help him overcome his difficulties.’’

Clark to assist Tim Clark, who hasn’t played much this year because of a lingering elbow injury that will require surgery, has been named assistant captain of the International team by Greg Norman for the upcoming Presidents Cup. Clark, who is currently ninth on the International team’s points list, has played in the biennial competition three times, compiling a 5-2-8 record . . . Larry Nelson, who won the 1981 PGA Championship when it was first held at Atlanta Athletic Club, was given the PGA Distinguished Service Award in a ceremony last night. Nelson, from nearby Marietta, is the oldest competitor in the field this week. The 63-year-old didn’t take up golf until 21, after a stint in Vietnam with the US Army, and became a three-time major champion. He also won the 1983 US Open and 1987 PGA . . . Ryo Ishikawa is the youngest player this week. He’ll turn 20 Sept. 17.

Michael Whitmer can be reached at mwhitmer@globe.com.