McIlroy Fights Back To Close Gap On Double-Champ Kaymer
15 - November 2011
Abu Dhabi, UAE. 22 January 2011: Two-time winner Martin Kaymer today set the leader-board alight with a six-under 66 on Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship third day, to sit on a cumulative score of 18-under - five shots clear of Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, who was in scintillating form to climb into second.
The German has not dropped a shot in his last 51 holes, and only needs to hold his nerve on Sunday to make it an unprecedented Abu Dhabi hat-trick - a finish which would see him leapfrog American Tiger Woods into the World Number Two slot.
"This is my home course and it shows in the way I play," said the 26-year-old German. "I am relaxed, I love the Emirates Palace hotel and the people here are really friendly. And of course it will be very special if I can win for the third time. I just have to go out and shoot a good score tomorrow to do that."
Two of the four 2010 Major winners who began the 2011 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Thursday are still in contention for the coveted Falcon Trophy. Kaymer, who was victorious last year in the U.S. PGA Championship, leads McIlroy, who is on 13-under, while Graeme McDowell, the U.S. Open champion, is still in the running at 9-under par.
Kaymer's bogey-free round featured six birdies as he cruised through the challenging fairways of Abu Dhabi Golf Club's National Course with his characteristic coolness. And even with McIlroy shooting a joint best-of-the-day 65, including a stunning birdie-eagle on the daunting 18th hole, Kaymer - who won his first European Tour event in the UAE capital three years ago - is upbeat ahead of what could be a career-defining final round.
"I'm really looking forward to playing against Rory tomorrow. Last year, we played together and it was fun - he's one of the nicest guys on Tour. He's a young guy and I get along with him very well. I think it's going to be a great challenge tomorrow. He is not going to back off. He will go for everything," added Kaymer.
McIlroy's electrifying 65 included five birdies and one eagle, as he hopes to keep pressure on the German favourite. With five shots between them, Sunday is set to provide a battle royale between two of the European Tour's best young golfers.
"Martin is very, very good on this golf course, and he's always good when leading from the front," said the 21-year-old Ulsterman. "So as long as I go out and give it 100 per cent tomorrow, I'll be happy. I had a great finish today and it set me up nicely.
"This is my fourth year playing in Abu Dhabi and what they have done here over that time is amazing. I love playing at Yas Links and Saadiyat Island and the facilities here are getting better and better. It's a fantastic destination.
"If I won here, it would surpass the Dubai Desert Classic for me, which I won nearly two years ago. We've got the four Major champions from last year, and the world number one. It would be nice to win another event on the European Tour."
David Lynn goes into his final round in third place, one shot behind McIlroy, closely followed by Charl Schwartzel and Alex Noren, both on 10-under.
Earlier in the day, Paul Casey struck a hole-in-one on his third hole of the day, earning himself a free, three-night stay at Emirate Palace hotel every year for the rest of his life.
The Englishman's ace is the third in as many days this year - Søren Kjeldsen achieved the feat on the first day while Ricardo González did the same on the second - and this is in spite of a tougher, longer National Course.
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship concludes on Sunday, January 23 at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, where a stellar line up, including the world number one Lee Westwood, all four Major champions and six of the world's top 10 players, have been battling it out to lift the coveted Falcon Trophy.
Tickets are AED125 for a daily pass. Preferential rates of AED100 and AED300, respectively, apply to EGF members. Children under 18 will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult, while HSBC card holders can also get in free by presenting their card on arrival this Sunday. All car parking is free.
Tickets are available via the event's official website, www.abudhabihsbcgolfchampionship.com, as well as online at www.timeouttickets.com and www.itptickets.com. Phone bookings can be made through the ITP toll-free hotline 800 4669, or for international visitors, +971 4 210 8943.
Also, look out for the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship Facebook fan page - www.Facebook.com/AbuDhabiHSBCGolfChampionship2011 - which is full of information about the tournament and golfers in attendance. The Twitter feed - www.twitter.com/AbuDhabiGC - provides up-to-the-minute news and scores.
The Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship is backed by a high-profile sponsorship line-up that also includes Saeed and Mohammed Al Naboodah Group, Emirates Palace hotel, Etisalat, TDIC, Rolex, Cadillac, Airbus, CNN, Xerox, Etihad and Gulf News.