x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

A lot more still to come from Martin Kaymer

Two of golf's best individual performances in recent years have now taken place on UAE soil and Kaymer has just begun with the Abu Dhabi victory.

Martin Kaymer in action in Abu Dhabi at the weekend on the way to winning the tournament by eight shots.
Martin Kaymer in action in Abu Dhabi at the weekend on the way to winning the tournament by eight shots.

Two of the best individual performances in recent years have now taken place on UAE soil.

The first was Lee Westwood's destruction of the Earth Course to win the first Dubai World championship by a landslide margin 14 months ago; the second was last week at the capital's National Course as Martin Kaymer won the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

On each occasion the course was set up to produce a winner with an aggregate score in the mid-teenagers under par.

Each time it would have done but for the brilliance of the respective winners - Westwood leaving his chasing pack six shots in arrears, Kaymer strolling home by eight.

Kaymer loves the National Course which is defenceless against him when the German produces his A game. To stand at 80 under par for his last 16 competitive rounds there is staggering.

Equally astounding was Kaymer's bogey count during the four days.

It annoyed the unflappable German enormously that he shanked a ball on the 12th hole of his third round last week because he had set his stall out to go bogey-free throughout the four days on his favourite track.

It is a frightening thought how good a golfer Kaymer might turn out to be. He leapfrogged Tiger Woods as No 2 in the world last week and has designs on the No 1 spot which Woods enjoyed for 281 weeks.

Crucially, the German is starting to believe in himself and he will need to if Woods is able to rediscover the form that yielded 14 majors.

The extent of Kaymer's ambition used to be staying around for the weekend at European Tour events to ensure he got paid for his efforts. Now, with some justification, he has sets his sight on winning every tournament he enters.

The 26-year-old looks destined to replace Bernhard Langer, his illustrious predecessor, as his country's most influential golfing ambassador.

Coincidentally, the last time Europe had two players on top of the rankings ladder, Langer stood second to England's Nick Faldo.

With Westwood at the summit, the same Anglo-German situation prevails as the balance of power in world golf shifts away from the United States.

Kaymer's masterclass in Abu Dhabi helped to take the focus away from Padraig Harrington being disqualified on Friday morning as he prepared to go out for his second round.

To lose the three-time major champion and massive crowd favourite to the most pedantic of rulings was heartbreaking.

Harrington's disqualification for moving his ball by a couple of millimetres when trying to replace it came shortly after the European Tour's hierarchy had met to adjudicate on an alleged incident of cheating.

The tour's Tournament Committee delivered a unanimous verdict that Eliot Saltman broke the rules of golf in a minor tournament in Moscow last September when his playing partners accused him of incorrectly marking his ball on several greens.

That Saltman case is subject to a possible appeal and no prejudicial remarks should be made until the affair is closed, but the two incidents are miles apart in terms of judging the integrity of a sport that has for generations preached the gospel of honesty.

Harrington, by no stretch of the imagination, sought to gain an advantage as he prepared to complete his opening round of seven under par last Thursday.

He could have gone on to win the tournament - or at least have got closer than the final eight-shot winning margin that Kaymer had over the rest of the field.

A clause should find its way into golf's complicated rule book to avoid future tournaments having their major attractions taken away from them for such trivial indiscretions.

wjohnson@thenational.ae