MARANA, ARIZONA // Martin Kaymer reached the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship yesterday to ensure he will take over as world No 1 when the new rankings are issued tomorrow.
Kaymer beat Bubba Watson in a closely contested semi-final at Dove Mountain's Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and will face the Englishman Luke Donald in today's title match.
In-form Donald crushed American Matt Kuchar 6&5 on a blustery afternoon in the Arizona desert to give himself a chance of climbing to a career-high third in the rankings.
Kaymer had his hands full against the big-hitting Watson in a fluctuating contest.
The 26-year-old German went one up at the first, trailed by one after eight holes and then built a two-up lead with two to play.
Watson kept the match alive by sinking a six-foot birdie putt at the par-four 17th to trim Kaymer's advantage to dormie one.
Watson was then bunkered off the tee at the par-four 18th and ended up just short of the green with his approach after his ball spun back off the front edge.
Kaymer, straight down the middle with his drive, struck his second shot through the back of the green before chipping back seven feet past the cup.
Watson hit his third shot to within five feet of the cup before the German coolly rolled in his putt to seal victory.
"The last four or five holes were very up and down," said Kaymer, who will replace England's Lee Westwood as world No 1.
"It's very special to be the second German," he added, referring to his compatriot and former rankings leader Bernhard Langer.
Donald, the world No 9, charged seven up after 10 holes and held off a brief fightback by Kuchar before sealing victory with his sixth birdie of the match at the par-five 13th.
"I've been playing good this week," Donald said. "I've been stringing together a lot of good rounds, making birdies, and not too many mistakes. It's nice on a long day like this to get done early."
Earlier, the Englishman had reached the last four for the first time by beating American Ryan Moore 5&4. In 27 holes on Saturday, Donald piled up 13 birdies.
"I've been tough to beat this week and hopefully that can continue tomorrow," he said.
Donald, who has not trailed in any of his five matches this week, was in scintillating form against Kuchar.
He birdied five of the first nine holes, sinking a curling 38-foot putt at the par-four ninth, to reach the turn six up.
The American then bogeyed the par-four 10th after driving into a fairway bunker to trail by seven before Donald conceded the 11th hole after pulling his tee shot into the desert waste.
Kuchar also won the par-three 12th, after hitting an exquisite tee shot to just two feet, to cut the deficit to five.
However Donald immediately responded, reaching the green in two at the par five 13th and knocking in a six-foot birdie putt to book his place in the 18-hole final.