x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Kaymer wants to face Woods on final day in capital

German boasts a formidable record at Abu Dhabi course, and says it was hard to deal with the attention as No 1.

The world No 4, Martin Kaymer, was practising at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, yesterday.
The world No 4, Martin Kaymer, was practising at Jumeirah Golf Estates, Dubai, yesterday.

DUBAI // Martin Kaymer, in his more reflective moments, daydreams about facing down Tiger Woods to win a fourth Abu Dhabi Golf Championship next month.

The German golfer has made the tournament his own, winning three times in the past four years. But he knows that most of the attention will be on Woods when the 14-time major winner comes to Abu Dhabi for the first time in the last week of January.

That is why Kaymer, last year's Race to Dubai winner, has a clear ambition: to take on Woods on the final day, in the final pairing, at his favourite event.

"It would be nice to face Tiger in Abu Dhabi," Kaymer said yesterday. "After all, I know the place. He doesn't.

"I have played him a few times in the past and it would be great, of course, to compete against the best player who has ever played the game to see if I could beat him. Maybe we will see each other in Abu Dhabi that Sunday afternoon."

Kaymer readily acknowledges that becoming world No 1 in April had an unexpected effect on him. He says he found it difficult to cope with the extra pressure. Kaymer is now No 4 in the world, third on Europe's money list, and would love to chalk up more wins on UAE soil, starting this week at the Dubai World Championship.

If he were to rise back to the top spot, he said, he would enjoy it far more than the first time.

"The only other German to make that position was Bernhard Langer, so there was an awful lot of extra attention on me and I became more popular," Kaymer said.

"It was a matter of getting used to it because I was in the spotlight wherever I went, even America.

"If it happened again, I would definitely handle it a little better. It was still a great thing, even though I didn't play great golf after that."

Kaymer had a chance to win the Race to Dubai in 2009. He was leading in August when a go-kart accident caused him to miss two months of that season. He made up for that mishap last year when he clinched the title.

"That was very special, a really emotional moment for me," he said.

"This is such a great event and you are put on to a new level if you win the Race to Dubai. You become No 1 in Europe and that's even better than raising a trophy.

"I could still finish second this year and that's what I will try to do."

ncameron@thenational.ae