Friday, 11 March 2011
Martin Kaymer  (Getty Images)
Martin Kaymer (Getty Images)

Martin Kaymer comfortably won the battle of the world's top three in Miami - but trying to catch Hunter Mahan is proving tougher so far.

The 26 year old German, only two weeks into his reign as golf's World Number One, reached halfway in the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship on eight under par and in joint second place with Ryder Cup teammate Francesco Molinari.

“It’s always nice to be in one of the leading groups,” said Kaymer.

“It's nice in the afternoon playing one of the last groups, enjoying the people, the spectators, I enjoy that.”

Molinari has now broken 70 in five of his last six WGC rounds after winning the HSBC Champions in Shanghai last year.

“I've been playing all right yesterday and today,” said the Italian. “And I like the golf course - it's quite firm so I think it's better for us as players this year, and I'm playing pretty well. 

“I'm putting and chipping very well, so it's feeling good and you know, I enjoyed playing in the wind today. It was a bit trickier and hopefully we get some more wind tomorrow and Sunday, as well.”

Third-ranked Luke Donald, the player who beat Kaymer in the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play a fortnight ago, was five under, but Lee Westwood was twice in the water on the long eighth - their 17th - and with a double bogey seven tumbled down to level par with a 74.

Mahan, whose defeat to Graeme McDowell at The Celtic Manor Resort last October saw Europe regain The Ryder Cup, remained at the head of things in the windier conditions.

After completing an opening 64 in the morning - most of the field had to return to Doral at breakfast time because of Thursday's storm delay - the 28 year old Californian added a second round 71 to stand nine under.

"I'm in a very good position," said Kaymer. "It was a very difficult morning and a tough afternoon, but I didn't make any bogeys today, so that's pretty good."

Mahan, four clear before he bogeyed the 14th and 16th, commented: "My game's good and I'm looking forward to the weekend. You've got to be patient here."

As for the other star group of McDowell, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson - four, five and six in the world - they all left themselves with a lot of ground to make up over the weekend.

McDowell birdied two of the last three holes to climb to two under, but Woods (74) and Mickelson (71) are only level par and outside the top 30 in the 66-strong field.

Kaymer and Molinari, who already has one World Golf Championship to his name like Mahan and Donald, ended the day one in front of Scot Martin Laird, Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and Americans Matt Kuchar and Nick Watney.

Glaswegian Laird, based in the States since his college days and a winner on the US PGA Tour two years ago, included a 45 foot putt on the short ninth and a 57 foot chip-in at the 16th in his 70.

"I've been playing good for a while," said the 28 year old. "It's kind of easy in a way when you sneak under the radar and quietly go about your business.

"It's been mostly about getting confidence in myself and I've started to believe I could be a top ten player in the world." He currently stands 43rd.

McIlroy closed with a birdie to make up for three-putting the 13th and was round in 69.

It was no great surprise that Japan's Ryo Ishikawa fell back after starting with a 65 - the teenager woke to the news of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in his home country.

"My parents live some 250 miles away from the Tokyo area," he said. "The magnitude of 5.0 felt where my family lives is still a very big earthquake, so I just hope everybody else around will be safe as well.

"It is not possible to block something of this magnitude out completely.

"But I understand that in the position that I am, together with the other star athletes from Japan and other sporting areas, we can provide encouragement and hope for the people of Japan by doing our job."

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