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Wednesday, 02 February 2011
Martin Kaymer  (Getty Images)
Martin Kaymer (Getty Images)
Martin Kaymer goes head-to-head with Lee Westwood at this week's Commercialbank Qatar Masters presented by Dolphin Energy for the first time since becoming the World Number Two.

But the German US PGA Championship winner insists overhauling World Number One Westwood is not his main priority just yet.

A resounding eight shot win in Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago saw Kaymer move above Tiger Woods in the Official World Golf Ranking to set up the first all-European top two since Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer in 1993.

And Kaymer says the European surge in the rankings - they make up ten of the top 20 - proves the strength of The European Tour.

"My goal is not to become the Number One in the world right now," Kaymer said. "For me it's just important to play tournaments, to play as good as I can those tournaments, winning those tournaments, and then you know, if I take care of that, then yes, I will become Number One, one day.

"But at the moment, I'm not focusing on my World Rankings. I know I'm in the top ten, and that's important to me.

"It's nice for England and German players, too - it was Faldo and Langer I think 18 years ago. But European golf, not only The Ryder Cup showed it, but the last couple of years has showed how strong we are.

"Rory [McIlroy], he won in America last year, Graeme [McDowell] winning the US Open - those things they show that we are on the right track and The European Tour doesn't have to hide anymore.

"Of course the US PGA Tour has strong players and they are a powerful market obviously in America, but I think the performance that we showed the last five years has been very impressive I think."

The strength of The European Tour is further highlighted by the fact that many of America's leading stars are competing in the Desert Swing - Steve Stricker this week following Phil Mickelson's appearance in Abu Dhabi, with Tiger Woods jetting in for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic next week.

Stricker will partner Westwood for the first two rounds, and the World Number One can see more Americans flocking over in the future.

"It's nice that Steve Stricker, and Phil came over for Abu Dhabi, and Tiger is coming next week," said Westwood. "They are realising that these are big tournaments in their own right as well and they are choosing them over the ones in the States. I think it shows how healthy The European Tour is.

"Our fifth major, the BMW PGA Championship, has a top 50 in the world exemption. Might be nice to see the top Americans come over for that. I think it's just a transition that needs to be made."

Like Kaymer, Westwood played down the current battle for the World Number One spot.

"It's obviously nice for us and for European golf that one and two in the world are here at this tournament and both European," he added. "That just shows the strength of The European Tour now, the kind of fields that we have attracted the first few weeks of the year."

World Number Seven Stricker admitted that the opportunity to pick up significant ranking points was a factor in his decision to appear this week.

"I'm glad I came," he said. "It's an exciting place. The buildings are a little bit different than what I expected I guess, a lot of building going on around here.

"But great people, everybody seems to meet you with a smile and a hello. The hospitality has been really nice. And I'm happy to be here. It's a tournament that I looked at playing last year, too, and just couldn't pull the trigger on it. Finally made the decision to come over and I'm glad I did.

"Another reason what lured me to come over here is the strength of the field. You have Westwood and Kaymer, and Paul Casey winning last week, moving into I think fifth or sixth position.

"So you've got a strong field here, along with other players, Robert Karlsson, past winner from last year. Right now, I think it goes in cycles where you'll have a part of the world dominating the game for a while, like Tiger and Phil were one and two for a period of time.

"Now you've got Westwood and Kaymer who have been playing some great golf over the last year, and I think it kind of goes in cycles. But right now, obviously the top players are over here in Europe and part of the reason why I came here to try to play well in this event."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1BJÖRN, ThomasDEN18-14
2QUIROS, AlvaroESP18-10
T3CABRERA-BELLO, RafaESP18-9
T3BRIER, MarkusAUT18-9
5HOWELL, DavidENG18-8
T6HANSEN, SorenDEN18-6
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