McDowell, Maybin clear at Valderrama
Graeme McDowell and Gareth Maybin will head into the final round of the Andalucia Valderrama Masters six clear of the field.
Lee Westwood is poised to become Europe’s first world number one golfer since Nick Faldo was toppled by Greg Norman in 1994.
The Englishman’s Ryder Cup team-mate Martin Kaymer continued to labour well off the pace at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters today, and barring a staggering turnaround tomorrow he will not achieve the top-two finish he requires.
Kaymer must win or share second place with no more than one other player if he, rather than the absent Westwood, is to succeed Tiger Woods when the American’s 281-week reign ends on Monday.
Having started his tournament with rounds of 72 and 74, today’s 70 was a welcome improvement for Kaymer, but realistically he needed to shoot around 66 to move into contention.
The leaderboard showed that the 25-year-old German stood nine shots behind Graeme McDowell and Gareth Maybin, the Northern Irish pair who were comfortably clear of the field and sharing the lead on six under par.
US Open champion McDowell had two double bogeys in his one-over round of 72, at the seventh and 18th, and while Maybin dropped shots at the first and second holes he improved with three birdies before the turn and then had pars all the way home.
Ireland’s Damien McGrane shared third place with Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez on two under. McGrane shot 70 and Jimenez a level-par 71.
Sergio Garcia showed encouraging form with a round of 69 to move into a share of fifth place with Thomas Bjorn, who had four early birdies and four bogeys in a 71.
On level par for the tournament, where low-scoring has been difficult all week, stand American Anthony Kang, whose 68 was not bettered today, alongside India’s Jeev Milkha Singh and Holland’s Robert-Jan Derksen, who both went round in 72.
Sweden’s Niclas Fasth dropped from third to 13th after following yesterday’s 66 with a 76, but still he was one shot better off for the tournament than Kaymer.
Despite winning four times this season, Kaymer will almost certainly have to wait for his chance to become the second German to top the world rankings. His countryman Bernhard Langer was number one when the rankings were launched in 1986, conceding the position three weeks later to Seve Ballesteros.
For Westwood, reaching number one will be a triumph many feared he would never achieve.
When Woods began his latest stint at number one, Westwood stood 35th and was on the comeback trail after slumping from fourth in 2001 to outside the top 250 less than two years later.
He has not won a tournament this season but has had second places at three tournaments, including the Masters and Open Championship.
The 37-year-old from Worksop is currently out of action due to an injured calf but intends to return at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai next week.
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