Martin Kaymer and Graeme McDowell will have dual targets in their respective sights when they tee off in the first round of the Barclays Singapore Open at Sentosa Golf Club on Thursday.
Not only will the German and the Northern Irishman have their eyes on one of the most prestigious titles in Asia with its associated first prize of €713,165, they will also be viewing each other’s performance in what has turned out to be an intriguing Race to Dubai.
Following his three consecutive victories in the US PGA Championship, the KLM Open and the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship, Kaymer looked to have somewhat of a stranglehold on the second Race to Dubai, but McDowell’s victory in the Andalucia Valderrama Masters two weeks ago put him very much back into the frame at only €531,806 behind the German.
“When I started this five week run for the Race to Dubai, I targeted this week because I know that I can play well here,” said McDowell. “After my good finish here last year (tied fifth) I thought the golf course here at Sentosa sets up pretty well for me.
“You’ve got to drive the ball into the fairway and you’ve got to think your way round the golf course a little. Of course, this week is the week which I’ve targeted as an important one in trying to catch Martin and obviously I got off to a great start in Valderrama.
“My goal is to go to Dubai as close to I can possibly be to Martin for the chance to win the Race to Dubai. We were pretty close last week (in China) but a huge week this week can punch a hole in his lead. If I can have a solid finish this week, play the way I can play and Martin continues to play the way he has been doing the last four, five months, he’ll be hard to catch. But I’ll trying hard.”
Kaymer said: “Graeme played good golf in Valderrama and he really deserved to win. I played with him on the Thursday and Friday and he played fantastic golf. It would have been a big surprise for me if he had not won there.
“But this is what golf is all about – to have the challenge to play against the best players in the world and he is obviously one of them. I don’t think we should forget Lee Westwood (in the Race to Dubai). He still has a chance because it is a big prize fund in Dubai and anything can happen there. It sounds so simple but I can only take care of my own game.”
Westwood is missing from the field at Sentosa due to his ongoing rehabilitation from a calf muscle injury but the player currently in fourth place – Italy’s Francesco Molinari – does tee up, fresh from his stunning victory in last week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in China.
Indeed the Italian will tee up alongside McDowell and China’s Liang wen-Chong in one of the feature groupings of the first day while Kaymer partners Australia’s Adam Scott and Tetsuji Hiratsuka of Japan.
Both those pairings begin their title challenge on the Serapong Course – the main course in action during the week – while World Number Four Phil Mickelson begins his quest on the adjacent Tanjong Course in the company of Italian teenager Matteo Manassero and Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee.