Saturday, 22 January 2011
Martin Kaymer  (Getty Images)
Martin Kaymer (Getty Images)

Not even a birdie-eagle finish from Rory McIlroy could put Martin Kaymer off his stride as he closed in on a third Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship title in four years.

McIlroy shot a joint best-of-the-day 65, but the defending champion then birdied the same two holes and so goes into the closing round five clear on 18 under par.

Kaymer, last season's Race to Dubai winner and poised now to replace Tiger Woods as World Number Two, was round in 66.

The 26 year old has had only one bogey in his last 79 holes on the course, a simply staggering statistic that goes back to the 11th hole of his third round last year.

And McIlroy is not expecting the German to come off the rails all of a sudden.

After hitting a marvellous second to two feet on the 483 yard 17th the 21 year old Northern Irishman, third 12 months ago, sank a closing 25 footer.

"Martin is a very good leader," he said. "He does not lose many tournaments from the position he is in.

"If I give myself enough opportunities, as I did today, I am sure there's a low score out there and hopefully I will go close.

"But Martin is playing very, very well.

"I could have holed a few more, but it's swings and roundabouts and I will take 65 any day."

Kaymer, who was also runner-up two years ago, is now 74 under par for his last 15 rounds at the venue.

Needing only a top seven finish to move ahead of Woods on the rankings, he also had birdies at the third, fifth, 11th and 15th.

Should he succeed in leap-frogging Woods in the Official Golf World Ranking, he and Lee Westwood would be the first all-European top two since Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer in July 1993.

England's David Lynn (67) is in third place on 12 under, with Swede Alex Noren and South African Charl Schwartzel two further back in fourth.

Kaymer said: "My driving didn't feel so good, but I managed to hit the greens, my putting feels good and 66 is a fantastic round.

"Now I expect myself to win and I'd like to win by as many as possible. I rarely shoot over 70 on the course (just once in 15 rounds) and that's my goal."

Kaymer reached the turn in 34, but Schwartzel matched that after making an 18 footer at the long eighth and so the gap was back to three.

Kaymer was simply relentless and from the right-hand rough on the 11th hit a marvellous approach to five feet for yet another birdie.

Schwartzel responded with one of his own again, but double-bogeyed the 13th after his wayward drive hit a cart path and went into a bush.

US Open Championship winner Graeme McDowell was in the final group with Kaymer and Schwartzel, but a 71 dropped him to joint sixth and he is now nine strokes adrift.

World Number One Westwood, who made the halfway cut with nothing to spare on level par, could add only a 73 and is now joint 65th of the 70 remaining players.

Masters Tournament champion Phil Mickelson has not been able to make his presence felt either. A 72 kept him at three under, but dropped him from 25th to 39th.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1KAYMER, MartinGER18-24
2MCILROY, RoryNIR18-16
T3GOOSEN, RetiefRSA18-14
T3MCDOWELL, GraemeNIR18-14
T5MAYBIN, GarethNIR18-12
T5LYNN, DavidENG18-12

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