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Winner Martin Kaymer recognizes his long-time coach; Tiger's ex-wife gives commencement speech

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. - The agent for Martin Kaymer took the notebook and pen and wrote down the name of Kaymer's coach. It's not that Gunter Kessler is tricky to spell. It's just not a name that gets mentioned often.

That's one reason Kaymer went to lengths to praise his coach after winning The Players Championship, not only for his work but how Kessler goes about it.

"My coach and me, we work for 15, 16 years together now and he's always really under the radar," Kaymer said. "But he has the biggest influence of my game. The way he's teaching is not a way that you always need him. He's not a very selfish person. He teaches the way that you can help yourself in a very simple way."

Kaymer wrote on his website that Kessler deserves a big part of his success, and that he has been wrongly criticized in recent years as Kaymer, a former world No. 1, fell out of the top 50 in the world ranking.

"He has the talent to teach really everyone, and that is for me really a world-class coach," Kaymer said Sunday night. "He doesn't like the big stage and he doesn't like to be in all those newspapers and stuff. But I really believes he deserves that. It doesn't make him a happier person, and that makes him even nicer. ... Working together worked out very well. We have a lot of trust in each other because it worked out fairly well the first 13, 14 years.

"So now I can bring the trophy home and show him that we did well."

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US OPEN: The first week of local qualifying for the U.S. Open is completed, with another full week of qualifying sites around the country. Among those who advanced to sectional qualifying are young and old — Taylor Funk, the 18-year-old son of Fred Funk, made it in Orlando with a 68; Jeff Brehaut, the 50-year-old California who didn't make it to his first U.S. Open until Oakmont in 2007, qualified in California.

Also getting through were PGA Tour winners Frank Lickliter, Eric Axley and Marc Turnesa.

Casey Martin shot 71 at Royal Oaks in Vancouver, Washington, making him the second alternate out of that qualifier.

Meanwhile, the next two weeks in Texas will go a long way toward determining who gets to avoid the 36-hole sectional qualifier on June 2. The U.S. Open will exempt everyone in the top 60 in the world ranking on May 26 (after the Colonial) and again on June 2 (after the Memorial).

Among those on the bubble is a familiar face: Chesson Hadley.

The PGA Tour rookie, who won the Puerto Rico Open, was on the cusp of getting into the top 50 for the Masters until closing with a 79 at Bay Hill and an 80 at the Texas Open. He goes into the Texas swing at No. 61 in the world, one spot behind Matteo Manassero, who defends his title next week at Wentworth.

Hadley is not playing the Byron Nelson Championship.

A few PGA Tour winners this year also are in the mix. Phoenix Open winner Kevin Stadler is at No. 55, while Torrey Pines winner Scott Stallings is at No. 66. J.B. Holmes was No. 242 until he won at Wells Fargo. Now he is up to No. 69. None is playing the Byron Nelson.

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ELIN'S SPEECH: The former wife of Tiger Woods was back in the public eye, this time on her own terms.

Elin Nordegren graduated last week from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, and was chosen to speak to her class as the "Outstanding Graduating Senior." According to the Orlando Sentinel, she made references to her ex-husband and the episode that led her to divorce him in a speech filled with some inspiration and a little humour.

"It was right after I had taken 'Communication and the Media' that I was inexpertly thrust into the media limelight," said Nordegren, adding with a laugh, "I probably should have taken more notes in that class."

It was a reference to the relentless coverage of Woods' driving into a fire hydrant in November 2009, which was followed by revelations of numerous extramarital affairs. Married for six years with two children, they were divorced nine months later.

The 34-year-old Swede enrolled at Rollins in 2005. While having two children and going through a very public divorce, she finished her degree in psychology with a 3.94 GPA. She said classes in psychology and law "helped me through some of the most challenging times of my life that involved legal matters," and that they offered her "a place of peace in the wild storm of my personal life."

The theme of her speech was built around the words of Swiss psychotherapist Carl Jung: "You are what you do, not what you say you'll do." She said she was 25 when she enrolled in Rollins, married with no children in a country that was not her own.

"Today, nine years later, I'm a proud American, and I have two beautiful children," Nordegren said. As the applause began to die, she added with a smile, "But I am no longer married," and the applause picked up with rousing laughter.

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SIGN OF THE FINANCIAL TIMES: Nothing quite speaks to inflation on the PGA Tour like Jim Furyk.

He was the runner-up the last two weeks, both times watching from the locker room as J.B. Holmes made a bogey putt at Quail Hollow and Martin Kaymer made a par putt at TPC Sawgrass for one-shot victories.

Furyk earned $1.825 million for those two weeks. That's just $9,482 less than what Gary Player earned in his career. It's also more than Furyk earned in his first three seasons combined on the PGA Tour. And it would have been enough to finish 40th on the PGA Tour money list last year.

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DIVOTS: Jeff Maggert, a 50-year-old who is No. 185 in driving distance on the PGA Tour, was asked which player was the most demoralizing to have in the same group. "Anyone under 25," he said. ... Martin Kaymer became the first European to win on the PGA Tour since Henrik Stenson at the Tour Championship last year. ... Jordan Spieth tied for fourth in The Players Championship and wound up losing a spot in the world ranking. He's now No. 8. ... Rory McIlroy became the first player to make birdie on the 18th hole all four rounds at The Players Championship since the tour started keeping track in 1983, one year after the tournament moved to the TPC Sawgrass.

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STAT OF THE WEEK: Americans occupy the top 12 spots on the PGA Tour money list.

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FINAL WORD: "Once you play in the Ryder Cup, you always want to be there." — Martin Kaymer.

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