Beware the injured golfer
Martin Kaymer is looking forward to some rest – albeit only briefly – after almost pulling off the unlikeliest win of his career.
Martin Kaymer is looking forward to some rest – albeit only briefly – after almost pulling off the unlikeliest win of his career on Sunday.
The limping German, six shots behind with five holes to play at the Castello Masters in Spain, was beaten only when he missed a nine-foot birdie putt on the last after Swede Michael Jonzon had holed from twice as far.
For Jonzon it was a victory that totally transformed his season.
Down at 158th on the European Tour money list, he now has a two-year exemption rather than a ninth trip to the qualifying school – plus more than £308,000 extra in his bank account.
For Kaymer it was a performance that lifted him back above Rory McIlroy into second place on the “Race to Dubai” standings and once more made sense of the old cliche, ‘beware of the injured golfer’.
“Nineteen under was definitely way more than I was expecting,” said the 24-year-old, who was playing his first event since the go-kart crash in August which left him needing surgery on broken toes.
Told he would not be back to full fitness for a year – there are titanium plates and screws in his foot – Kaymer is determined to play on through the pain barrier.
And it could be especially painful at this week’s Volvo World Match Play Championship at Finca Cortesin near Marbella.
The two players making the final in the 16-man event will have to walk 36 holes on three of the four days and 18 on the other – and that works out at almost 50 miles.
“I’ll take it easy the next few days,” added the French and Scottish Open champion, who would have regained top spot from Lee Westwood if he had beaten Jonzon.
A first prize of over £675,000 is on offer on Sunday, although because of the limited field “only” around £488,000 of it counts towards the Order of Merit.
That still means that Westwood, Kaymer, McIlroy or fourth-placed Paul Casey could go top.
Casey, however, has been out even longer than Kaymer was and admits that his torn rib muscle – originally suffered practising for The Open in July – is still not totally healed.
The Match Play will be his first tournament since he withdrew after a few holes of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational on August 6.
There is another player battling with injury too. Indian Jeev Milkha Singh pulled out of last week’s US Tour event because of a foot problem.
“I am facing the prospect of yet another injury lay-off just because I did not wear the right golf shoes,” said Singh.
“I get special shoes which cushion my ankles. However, the one I wore last week were not of the right specifications.
“I had intense pain, somehow finished with the help of painkillers, but after I arrived in Scottsdale for this week’s Frys.com Open I could barely walk.
“I have been advised complete rest.”
With a guaranteed cheque for over £100,000 even for those who finish last in the round-robin group stage on Thursday and Friday, the trio are expected to leave decisions until later in the week.
But Swede Peter Hanson chose to play in Castellon rather than in Singapore this week so he could be on Match Play stand-by.
Jonzon, meanwhile, is linking up with his family on holiday inDubai – and will do so in far better spirits than he could have imagined.
The win was his first top-10 finish of the year and the 37-year-old, whose only previous Tour success was the 1997 Portuguese Open, admitted: “I’ve almost been feeling depressed – it’s been desperate for me.
“It means so much because I wasn’t really knowing what to do if I didn’t get a card for next season.
“My wife lost a child 19 weeks into pregnancy last year, my brother lost his wife to cancer and it’s been a struggle.
“I’m so proud of myself the way I handled these days.”
Tyrrell Hatton dominant as Rory McIlroy falters in Abu Dhabi
Hatton led by five shots at the end of a second weather-affected day.
Phil Mickelson on Tiger’s latest surgery: ‘I feel bad because golf should be a game of a lifetime’
Mickelson admitted he was saddened by the news of Woods’ latest back surgery.
Rory McIlroy makes brilliant start to fog-affected Abu Dhabi Championship
McIlroy has a remarkable record in Abu Dhabi with four second-place finishes.
Rory McIlroy shines in Abu Dhabi to take first-round lead following flawless 64
McIlroy has a remarkable record in Abu Dhabi with four second-place finishes, three thirds and a fifth in his last nine starts, but has never won.
Justin Thomas on end of Ralph Lauren deal: ‘They moved on so that’s what I’m doing as well’
Justin Thomas said he was upset by...
My last win feels a long time ago – Rory McIlroy aiming to start year on a high
McIlroy has not tasted victory since November 2019.
Rory McIlroy insists Justin Thomas will ‘try to be better’ after homophobic slur
World number three Thomas was heard using a derogatory word towards himself after missing a par putt in Hawaii.
Rory McIlroy backs Tiger Woods to make quick recovery from latest back surgery
McIlroy expects the American to be fit for the Masters in April.
Tiger Woods focusing on return to PGA Tour after undergoing fifth back operation
The 45-year-old will miss the Farmers Insurance Open and the Genesis Invitational.