PINEHURST (North Carolina) (REUTERS) - Martin Kaymer seems fairly level headed for a professional golfer, but he is not totally immune to criticism.
After winning the 2010 PGA Championship and rising to world No. 1 the following year, the German fell into a mini-slump, falling outside the top 60 early this year.
However, Kaymer never doubted he would find his way back to contending with the game's very best.
"You read over and over again in newspapers, on Facebook, on all those golf websites, is he ever going to come back? Is he a one-hit wonder with a major win?" he told reporters after taking a three-shot lead with a five-under 65 in the first round at the US Open on Thursday.
"Those things, it's not nice to read, but I can understand why people think like this. At the same time, it was quite funny, because I knew that it's just crap, so I was very secure about myself.
"Deep inside I never really doubted anything of what I'm doing."
Kaymer's victory last month at the Players Championship, perhaps the biggest individual event outside the four Majors, proved that he is back, and his sizzling start at Pinehurst No. 2 is a nice first step towards a possible second Major title.
"The Players gave me a different status as a professional, a lot of respect from people, a lot of respect from the players, a lot of satisfaction for myself," he said.
But no matter what Kaymer achieves, he might always be best known in Europe as the man who holed the five-foot putt that ensured Europe would retain the Ryder Cup at Medinah in Illinois in 2012.
"I just got in a very lucky position that I could make something really, really big happen for my career, for Europe, for my country, and I think a lot of people don't realize that it can change a career, things like this," he said.
"I'm very happy I didn't think about it while I was standing over that putt. I experienced a positive, but what would have happened if (I'd missed the putt and) experience a negative?
"Medinah made a very big difference for me in the way of confidence that I can make those important putts when it really matters."