Wednesday 17 January 2018

McDowell has Kaymer in his sights

Graeme McDowell. Photo: AP
Graeme McDowell. Photo: AP

Graeme McDowell is looking to strike a decisive blow in the Race to Dubai this week when he returns to a happy hunting ground at the Singapore Open.

McDowell trails Martin Kaymer by just under €600,000 in the battle for the European Tour's lucrative end of season title.

After reducing the German's lead by capturing the Andalucia Valderrama Masters, McDowell was unable to make inroads at last week's HSBC Champions WGC event in Shanghai, ending one shot behind his rival in 34th.

The 31-year-old Northern Irishman finished in a tie for fifth at last year's tournament and is confident his game can flourish again at Sentosa Golf Club to exert further pressure on his rival with just two events left before the Dubai World Championship on November 25.

"When I started this five-week run for the Race to Dubai, I targeted this week because I know that I can play well here," McDowell told the official European Tour website.

"After my good finish here last year, I thought the golf course here at Sentosa sets up pretty well for me.

"You've got to drive the ball into the fairway and you've got to think your way round the golf course a little. Of course, this week is the week which I've targeted as an important one in trying to catch Martin and obviously I got off to a great start in Valderrama.

"My goal is to go to Dubai as close to I can possibly be to Martin for the chance to win the Race to Dubai. We were pretty close last week [in China] but a huge week this week can punch a hole in his lead."

Kaymer's tie for 21st in southern Spain handed Lee Westwood the world number one spot and while the 25-year-old is once again looking forward to locking horns with McDowell, he refused to discount the Worksop golfer.

Westwood is third in the rankings in the Race to Dubai but is absent from Singapore due to a long-standing calf issue following his second place in Shanghai.

"Graeme played good golf in Valderrama and he really deserved to win. I played with him on the Thursday and Friday and he played fantastic golf. It would have been a big surprise for me if he had not won there," said Kaymer.

"But this is what golf is all about - to have the challenge to play against the best players in the world and he is obviously one of them.

"I don't think we should forget Lee Westwood. He still has a chance because it is a big prize fund in Dubai and anything can happen there. It sounds so simple but I can only take care of my own game."

Defending champion Ian Poulter, meanwhile, is optimistic he can repeat last year's success and claim his 10th European Tour title.

"It is always nice to go back to a tournament venue where you have won and obviously Sentosa is that for me," said the 34-year-old.

"I love the Serapong Course, where three of the four rounds will be played. It's tricky and testing off the tee and therefore positional play is the key to a good score but I think that plays to my strengths as I showed last year and I'm very happy with my game at the moment."

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