World Number Two Martin Kaymer paid tribute to the strength of European golf after his hard-fought victory over Hunter Mahan.
Despite trailing the American early on, Kaymer eventually prevailed 2&1 to take a step closer to Sunday’s Final – and with it a place at the top of the Official World Golf Ranking.
The German admitted he had to dig deep to fend off Mahan, but when the Ryder Cup player fluffed his chip at the 17th hole, the victory was Kaymer’s.
He will now face his 2010 Ryder Cup team-mate Miguel Angel Jiménez in the quarter finals after the Spaniard trounced American Ben Crane 7&6.
Kaymer said: “Today was even harder than yesterday, to be honest. Yesterday against Justin, we played both great golf, and he dragged me out until the 20th hole. And today it was a fantastic match. It was all about birdies and not making bogeys and giving holes away. He played good golf. He made some really long, good birdie putts when I thought, you know, maybe I'll get one back here, but all of a sudden he holed it.
“I think the tee shot on 16, that was probably the key shot of the match. That was, I think, 250 yards, a little bit into the wind. I hit a great 3 iron to about 10 or 12 feet, I think. Making those shots in those situations, they make me feel very proud and give me the motivation that I can pull off those important shots when I have to.”
As well as acknowledging Mahan's battling qualities the US PGA Champion also praised his fellow Major winner Graeme McDowell who, despite losing 3&2 to Korean YE Yang, surpassed former World Number Three Tiger Woods in the Official World Golf Ranking.
For the first time in his career, McDowell will become the World Number Three on Sunday night – unless England’s Luke Donald takes that spot by winning his first World Golf Championship, in which case the Ulsterman would be ranked fourth.
Kaymer said: “It’s fantastic news – to have Europeans in the top two was a huge achievement, but to have three or possibly even four is even better. It must’ve been a long time since that last happened. The last year showed how strong European golf is, and that’s carried through to this year.
“Graeme really deserves all the success that’s come his way, because he’s played some great golf over the past few months – he’s probably the best player in the world right now. His win at the US Open was an unbelievable performance, and you can see the confidence he took from it by the way he’s played since then. He was incredible at The Ryder Cup, and he’s also a great guy, so I’m really pleased for him.”