x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Abu Dhabi winner has a rocky day in Doha

Martin Kaymer, in pursuit of Lee Westwood for the world No 1 spot, has a frustrating round in the Qatar Masters and could miss the cut.

Germany's Martin Kaymer drove into the rocks on the 15th hole during a day of frustration at the Qatar Masters yesterday.
Germany's Martin Kaymer drove into the rocks on the 15th hole during a day of frustration at the Qatar Masters yesterday.

Martin Kaymer, the World No 2, went from the sublime to the ridiculous on a day of strong winds in Doha yesterday.

Two weeks after starting his season with an eight-shot victory in Abu Dhabi - achieved with a 24-under-par total which almost defied belief - Kaymer did not manage a single birdie in an opening 77 at the Qatar Masters.

Struggling in gusts of more than 30mph, the 26-year-old German was blown off course in his pursuit of Lee Westwood at the top of the rankings and finished the day eight strokes off the pace.

Retief Goosen, the South African who was celebrating his 42nd birthday, was the only player to break 70, although just before play was called off because of darkness Sweden's Niclas Fasth joined him on three under par with two holes still to play today.

Westwood, who could lose the world No 1 spot if Kaymer finishes in the top two on Sunday, managed only a 73 himself, but that was good enough for a place inside the top 20.

After only one bogey all week a fortnight ago, Kaymer dropped shots at the sixth and 12th and then drove into rocks three holes later.

The US PGA champion tried to play his way out of trouble, but knocked the ball only a few yards and then took a penalty drop on his way to a double-bogey six.

Another shot went at the short 17th and he is now in danger of his first missed cut since the Scottish Open last July. He has had four wins, including his first major, since then.

Goosen, in contrast, has not tasted victory for nearly two years and his last European Tour success was this event in 2007.

The double US Open champion was, however, joint third in Abu Dhabi, albeit 10 shots adrift of Kaymer, and continued that form in the far more difficult conditions.

"I drove it nicely, but it was tough to get the ball close to the flags and when you were putting you were getting blown all over the place," Goosen said.

Fasth's last win was four years ago and it is now nine years since he helped Europe win the Ryder Cup at The Belfry.

He made a 15-foot birdie putt on the seventh, his 16th, in the fast-fading light to put himself and Goosen one ahead of Robert Karlsson, the defending champion, England's Richard Finch and Darren Fichardt, the 2003 winner.

John Daly came home in 42 to match Kaymer's 77, Steve Stricker, the world No 7, was only one better than that and Ryder Cup winner Ross Fisher slumped to an 80.

Paul Casey, the winner in Bahrain on Sunday, needed three birdies in his last four holes just for a 74, while Ian Poulter birdied two of his last three for 72 and joint 10th.

"Feels like I've been a punch bag for [Floyd] Mayweather today," Poulter said on Twitter. "Shame I'm not at the Phoenix Open - I've got 10 mates there for three days then they're off to Vegas."

He might have changed his mind after hearing that the start of that event was delayed by frost.