Kaymer birdies 18th to beat Poulter in Abu Dhabi|
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (Sports Network) - Martin Kaymer likes
everything about playing golf in Abu Dhabi -- the hotels, the food, the people
and the way the courses set up for his game.
"I just feel so comfortable coming here," said the 25-year-old German.
Proving that point, Kaymer won the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship for the second
time in three years on Sunday when he birdied the 18th hole to beat Ian
Poulter by one shot.
After struggling through the middle of the round, Kaymer made two birdies over
his last five holes to shoot a six-under 66 and finish at 21-under 267 for the
Kaymer also won this event in 2008 and tied for second place last season, so
it's no wonder he enjoys returning every year.
"It was my first win here two years ago and it's nice to get the trophy back,"
said Kaymer, who captured his fifth European Tour win.
Poulter held a one-shot lead over Kaymer with six holes remaining but failed
to make another birdie. He also fired a 66 to shoot 20-under 268 for second
Rory McIlroy played in the final threesome with Kaymer and Poulter and drew
within a shot of both players when he birdied the 17th hole. But like Poulter,
McIlroy ended with a par and shot a 67 to take third place at 19-under 269.
Shane Lowry (67) finished fourth at 17-under 271 and Louis Oosthuizen (66)
took fifth at 272.
McIlroy made it a three-horse race after he birdied the 17th, but for most of
the day it was a two-man battle between the 54-hole leader Kaymer and Poulter.
After both men birdied the first two holes, Poulter caught Kaymer at 17-under
with a birdie at the third. They traded birdies again at the sixth before
Kaymer restored his one-shot lead with a birdie at the eighth.
Poulter took lead with back-to-back birdies at 11th and 12th, but Kaymer tied
him with a birdie at the 14th.
They both made three consecutive pars after that -- McIlroy birdied two of the
holes to pull within one -- and the trio headed to the par-five 18th with the
tournament up for grabs.
Hitting perhaps his most important shot of the round, Kaymer found the middle
of the fairway with his final drive. Poulter and McIlroy missed it, meanwhile,
and both players were forced to lay up.
After that, Kaymer was sure the outcome rested in his own hands, and he knew
he wanted to close with a birdie to guarantee himself a spot in a possible
"So that's why I had to go for the green," he said.
While Poulter and McIlroy made tough decisions about where to lay up, Kaymer
found the green with his second shot and needed only to two-putt for the win.
He rolled in a three-footer for the birdie, cashing in on the aggressive
attitude that put him in a position to win.
"It's a very nice attitude," Kaymer said. "You just stand over the ball and
you know what you have to do. You know that you need the birdie. You know you
have to go for the flag."
Poulter missed a 20-foot birdie putt from the fringe with a chance to force a
"I gave myself plenty of chances, it's just a shame I couldn't get up on the
last," said the Englishman, who was seeking his ninth win. "I drew an OK lie,
I was just too far out and I just wanted to lay up to a decent number and give
myself a chance to make four."
After making only three bogeys in 72 holes, Poulter still said: "I will beat
myself up as normal. I really felt as if I should have taken control and won
this golf tournament."
McIlroy, the 20-year-old rising star from Northern Ireland, liked the way he
played and hoped it would set a tone for the rest of the season.
"It's not as if I went out in the last group and shot [even-par] or something
like that. I shot a really good score in the conditions and it just wasn't
good enough. I've got nothing but positives to take from this because I
thought I did very well today," said McIlroy.
"I'm sure we gave the crowd some pleasure out there today and that was nice,"
NOTES: Kaymer has won at least once in each of the last three seasons...He
captured two wins apiece in 2008 and '09...This marked Kaymer's first win
since breaking his foot in a go-kart accident last year...2009 winner Paul
Casey tied for 27th place...Kaymer and Casey are the only two players who have
won this event twice...Next week is the Qatar Masters, where Alvaro
Quiros won last year.
01/24 10:17:59 ET