Poulter in pole position
Martin Kaymer looks set to be Europe’s number one, but Ian Poulter is control at the Dubai World Championship.
Martin Kaymer looks set to win the Race to Dubai, but Ian Poulter is in the pole position at the Dubai World Championship.
For Kaymer, becoming Europe’s number one seems all but a formality, though a disappointing day at the office means he won’t be able to add the world number one ranking to that accolade.
A double bogey on the final hole, thanks to a misjudged pitch shot that rolled into the ditch that runs alongside the green, delivered a crushing blow to the German’s aspirations of a fifth European victory for the year and the coveted top spot in the world rankings, and leaves him six shots adrift of leader Ian Poulter with just one round left to play.
Kaymer took the disappointment in his stride, however, and remained focused on the positives.
“It looks like I have won the Race to Dubai, which was my goal coming here,” he said.
“That’s nice, but it would be more satisfying if I shoot a low round – between 66 and 63, which I think is possible.”
Graeme McDowell, his only remaining challenger for the money list title, needed a serious charge on the day to keep the race alive, but after a 69 is languishing in 30th place, 10 strokes behind. He needs at least a top-three finish to force the issue, which seems very unlikely now.
“Barring the impossible, Europe’s number one is not a reality for me any more,” he told reporters after his round.
“Martin is definitely going to do it unless I shoot 55, which unless one of you boys putts for me isn’t going to happen.”
Englishman Lee Westwood, the current world number one, is tied for fifth after a 71, three shots back, and still has a chance to walk away with the title.
Poulter’s good form continued for Saturday’s third round, and his two-shot advantage will be a sizeable cushion going into the final round, particularly considering how well he is playing at the moment. History is on his side too – in the eight times he’s taken the lead heading into the last 18, he’s only failed to go on to win once.
The Englishman is oozing confidence, and it will take a serious assault from his nearest competitors, Ross Fisher, Francesco Molinari and Thongchai Jaidee, to unseat him at the top. All three golfers are tied for second at 10 under, two behind Poulter’s lead.
Poulter’s biggest win probably came at the Volvo World Matchplay in February, but he said of his potential win here: “I think this would be right there behind it, to be honest.
“The Volvo Masters (in 2004) was probably my next biggest, but this has become a bigger event and would mean more.
“My game is as good as it’s been – as good as Tucson – and I am in the driving seat.
“The pins were tucked and it was a game of patience, but the two silly bogeys came on holes I feel I should have taken advantage of,” he said.
Poulter was three shots clear at one stage, before bogeys, thanks to a three-putt on the fifth and an errant drive on the tenth, brought him closer to the rest of the field. Birdies on the 14th and 15th steadied the ship, and secured the two-stroke lead.
Ross Fisher, the overnight leader, had managed to close the gap to one shot at one point, but made the same mistake Kaymer made on the 18th, closing with a bogey in the process.
McDowell, who seemed slightly frustrated after his round, will nevertheless be taking a lot of positives from 2010, the year that saw him win his first major at the US Open and emerge victorious as part of the European Ryder Cup team.
“What I’ve learnt this season is that I’m good enough,” he said. “I know what room I have for improvement, but it was great to see that my best is good enough to compete.
“Two or three years ago the number one player in the world seemed untouchable, but I believe if I work hard enough the next few years I could be the best player in the world.”
McDowell felt the final nail in the coffin of his money list aspirations came when he three-putted the short fourth and then missed birdie chances on the fifth and sixth holes.
“I was just waiting for the taxi to turn up and take me home at that point,” he added.
“The course has not shown me much love. It’s not my cup of tea – it frustrated me last year and is continuing to frustrate me.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to wave the white flag. I tried my heart out and it just didn’t happen, but I’ll have a cold beer and look back on a great season.”
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