Monday, January 19

Nightmare in Abu Dhabi

A CENTURY AGO SIX-TIME BRITISH OPEN champion Harry Vardon may have said it best when he uttered, "Golf is master of us all." I expect Martin Kaymer would agree with Vardon's maxim, especially on this Monday.

The two-time major champion began yesterday's final round in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship with a six-shot lead. Kaymer's fourth title at Abu Dhabi Golf Club was all but assured; the only open question was the margin of victory.

The German's lead grew to 10 shots when he birdied three of the first four holes. With 14 holes to play and a 10-stroke lead, all it seemed Kaymer had to do was hold onto the golf club. Firing 64, 67 and 65 through the first three rounds and with a hot start on Sunday, Kaymer was in control of everything that mattered: himself, his game and the golf tournament.

Then, inexplicably, the man who was 23 under par for 58 holes played the final 14 in 6 over. And lost.

Kaymer finished third, two strokes behind winner Gary Stal, a 22-year-old Frenchman ranked 357th in the world, who stormed to the clubhouse with a 65. Closing with a 66, Rory McIlroy finished second. Kaymer's 75 was the worst final-round score in the field.

Kaymer admitted to being "a little shocked" afterward.

"Obviously, I didn't play as good as the other days," he said, "but I didn’t make many mistakes; a couple of bad shots cost me. It's difficult right after the round to say how I feel. It was definitely a very interesting day and one I need to reflect on."

Happening in broad daylight in Abu Dhabi, the collapse had to be the worst nightmare for Martin Kaymer.

Today I'm once again reminded that no lead is safe in golf. And, furthermore, that no golfer is master of this ancient game.

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