Monday 24 July 2017

Kaymer hits top form to put McIlroy in the shade

Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell attracted huge galleries on their final round
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell attracted huge galleries on their final round

James Corrigan, in Shanghai

Rory McIlroy yesterday moved up to the hitherto unvisited heights of the world top two -- but was still made to feel inferior in the process.

"I would have had to do something very special to win today," said the Ulsterman after finishing fourth thanks to a last-hole birdie.

If the Holywood youngster had parred the 18th, he would have been in a four-way tie for sixth in the tournament and would have stayed behind Lee Westwood on the rankings. But he hit his approach to the par-five to the back of the green and two-putted -- watched by Westwood, who came only 13th after a disappointing closing 74.

Meanwhile, the eventual winner of the WGC-HSBC Champions actually started one shot behind McIlroy, which proves just how special Martin Kaymer's final-round 63 was.

The German trod all over a high-class field to restate his supreme quality as a ball-striker and a finisher. This was the 26-year-old's first title in 10 months, though on this form it is difficult to see how he could manage to go 10 days without winning.

Kaymer was five behind after six holes and three clear at the 18th to demote Swede Freddie Jacobson to second. Kaymer did so courtesy of a brilliant run of nine birdies in 12 holes.

"The last time that happened I think was when I shot the 59 five years ago (on the German Tour), when I shot 14-under for the last 16 holes," he said. "That was a good round. So was this."

Exactly how good is maybe best revealed by the fact that it was the best score of the day by two. The Sheshan International is certainly no pitch and putt.

Restrict

Westwood had to reel off four birdies to restrict the damage to a round of two-over. But his poor finish allowed McIlroy to take the tag of world's second best golfer.

However, this was the day when the 22-year-old all but said goodbye to the chance of lifting the Order of Merit title. With a near £1m lead, Luke Donald is almost certain to become the first player to win the money lists on both the European and PGA Tours in the same year.

"I'm disappointed, but looking forward to two weeks off," said McIlroy, who will holiday in the Maldives with his girlfriend, No 1 tennis player Caroline Wozniacki. "This is the end of a six-week run on the road and I'm not even going to take my clubs with me."

Off the course, Adam Scott's caddie Steve Williams has escaped official punishment for his controversial remark about former employer Tiger Woods after a high-level meeting of golf officials in China.

Earlier, Williams had apologised.

"I now realise how my comments could be construed as racist. However, I assure you that was not my intent. I sincerely apologise to Tiger and anyone else I have offended," said the New Zealander.

During the final round of the WGC-HSBC Champions event, talks over the derogatory comments, which Williams made during a caddie awards evening, were held between European Tour chief George O'Grady and US PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem.

Afterwards, the pair issued a joint-statement, saying: "The International Federation of PGA Tours feels strongly there is no place for any form of racism in ours or any other sport.

"We consider the remarks of Steve Williams, as reported, entirely unacceptable in whatever context.

"We are aware that he has apologised fully and we trust we will not hear such remarks again. Based on this, we consider the matter closed."

The statement was shown to Australian Scott, for whom the New Zealander has caddied since August, and he responded: "I hope now that everybody has said their piece the matter is now closed and we hope we can move forward." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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