He was impressive during his opening 66 but Martin Kaymer was simply sensational in the second round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship, a stunning 65 seeing the German open up a six shot lead.
The 2007 Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year started with a birdie on the opening hole and never looked back, rattling in seven other birdies in total which more than made up for his only dropped shot of the day which came after a rare errant pitch shot on the sixth.
But apart from that, the 23 year old from Dusseldorf was flawless and his 13 under par total of 131 opened up a yawning chasm over the field, his nearest challenger being Sweden’s Henrik Stenson who carded a 70 for a seven under par total of 137.
His six shot lead was also only one short of The European Tour record seven shot lead at the halfway stage of a tournament, that feat achieved by seven players, the last one being Kaymer’s golfing idol Ernie Els in the 2004 Heineken Classic at Royal Melbourne.
“I am really, really happy with this,” he said. “Yesterday I was pretty satisfied too but today was amazing. I actually didn’t strike the ball as well as I did yesterday but my putting was really good today, I holed a lot of good ones.
“On these greens it can be quite difficult to make long putts but I managed to knock a couple in today which helped keep my round going. Yesterday I was nervous on the first tee but today was totally different. I felt relaxed on the first tee and I think that showed.”
Having started with a birdie, Kaymer also nearly finished with a birdie too after a driver from the tee and a driver from the middle of the fairway saw him threaten the green at the 557 yard 18th hole.
In the end, his pitch was not close enough to yield another birdie from the course but it was the ease with which he hit his driver from the fairway – one of the hardest shots to control in golf – which drew most admiring glances.
However Kaymer later revealed the secret for being able to play that shot so well – when he was growing up and practicing, his father refused to give him any tees!
“I know a lot of players worry about that shot but for me it is no difference because when I was young I never got a tee,” he said. “My father said, ‘You can hit it from the grass’ but I said, ‘Hey, all the other guys have tees, why can’t I have one?’
“He said to me that it would be a big advantage to me when I eventually did get to a tournament and I was allowed to hit from a tee, plus the fact I wouldn’t be scared to hit drivers off the fairway. At the time I thought it sucked but I guess he has a point now!”
The last time Kaymer started so well was in the inaugural Portugal Masters last November when he opened with a 61, but he eventually fell back to finish in a share of seventh. The man who came through to triumph on the Algarve that week was Steve Webster and, ironically, the Englishman was in Kaymer’s rear view mirror once again in Abu Dhabi.
The 32 year old added a second round 68 to his opening 70 for a six under par total of 138, exactly the same scores as the man alongside him in a share of third place, Spain’s Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño.
For a spell Webster looked like he might be the man to mount a serious challenge to Kaymer at the head of affairs when a scintillating run of six birdies in seven holes from the fifth brought him right onto the coat-tails of the German.
But just as that spell had been fantastic, the three hole spell from the 13th to the 15th was forgettable for the two time European Tour winner as he bogeyed each hole to slip back.
“You have to take the positives from the round and the day,” he said. “You know I played great and the first 12 holes was as good as I could play. I had a lot of birdie chances and I made seven of them around a tough course.
“Obviously it was a little disappointing to throw in the three bogeys in a row there on the way home but, you know, that’s life. Martin played in front of me today and he seemed to hole everything he looked at. But tomorrow, as today, I’ve just got to play my own game.”
It left the nearest challenger to Kaymer, and the man who will partner him in the final two ball of Saturday afternoon, as Stenson. Like Webster, for a while it looked like the Swede would get a lot closer to Kaymer after starting with birdies at the second, third and fourth holes. But after dropping a shot at the fifth, Stenson finished his round with 13 straight pars.
“I saw his (Kaymer’s) number before I went out but I was eight under through four holes so I thought if I could keep on playing well and give myself some chances I could close on in on him and maybe finish on nine or ten or something like that,” said Stenson.
“But it was tricky and I didn’t play my very best so I am quite happy to hang on to seven under par. There is always the chance when one guy moves away from the field that they can come back but I doubt he will do but there is always a possibility and I will do my best to move forward these next two days.”