Saturday 24 March 2018

Fast-finishing Kaymer hits the front

Mark Garrod

Martin Kaymer birdied the last two holes yesterday to take a one-shot lead into the final round of the KLM Open at Hilversum.

Golf's newest major champion sank a 10-foot putt at the 17th and then hit a marvellous recovery from sand on the par five last for a 66 and 10-under-par total of 200.

The 25-year-old German, trying to make it five wins in a row in Europe by members of Colin Montgomerie's Ryder Cup team, overtook Paraguay's Fabrizio Zanotti and Swede Christian Nilsson. Kaymer himself began the run of success by taking the US PGA Championship last month.

That was followed by Peter Hanson at the Czech Open, Edoardo Molinari in the Johnnie Walker Championship and then last Sunday by Miguel Angel Jimenez at the Omega European Masters.

This is Kaymer's first outing since Whistling Straits and if he lifts the £248,364 winner's cheque, he will open up a lead of more than £415,000 over Graeme McDowell at the top of the European Tour money list. While he is ranked sixth in the world, Zanotti is 279th and Nilsson 255th.

They have only two top-10 finishes between them in 38 Tour events this season, but shot 65 and 68 respectively to keep their title hopes alive.

It is a big day coming up for both of them. Zanotti is 111th on the Order of Merit and Nilsson 138th -- and only the leading 115 keep their cards at the end of the year. Belfast's Michael Hoey (66) heads the Irish at five-under par with former KLM Open winner, Darren Clarke (67) and last year's runner-up Peter Lawrie (69) next best at four-under par.

Shane Lowry (69) remarked he holed his longest putt in a month, a 30-footer, in eagling the 12th to be at one-under par.

Co Down's Simon Thornton (70) is at level-par and one clear of Ballyclare's Gareth Mabyin (72) who doubled the last in the company of fellow Ulsterman Clarke.

Sunday Independent

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