Thursday 23 November 2017

McDowell hits top form as Kaymer hopes fade

US Open champion Graeme McDowell was in excellent form yesterday. Photo: AP
US Open champion Graeme McDowell was in excellent form yesterday. Photo: AP

Nigel Whittaker

Graeme McDowell took advantage of an ugly front-nine from overnight leader Pablo Larrazabal to edge into pole position at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters.

The US Open champion produced an exhilarating 67 to lie seven-under after yesterday's second round, while his player partner Martin Kaymer was left with a huge task on his hands to take over Tiger Woods' top spot in the world.

Kaymer needs to finish in the top two tomorrow night, but the 25-year-old from Dusseldorf trails McDowell by 11 shots at the half-way stage and second-placed Gareth Maybin by nine.

McDowell has to make up more than €1m on Kaymer to top Europe's money-list with just five events to go and the Portrush man could whittle off a massive chunk of that deficit this week.


His splendid return of four-under-par for the back-nine not only propelled the Irish Ryder Cup hero past his compatriot Maybin, but gave a masterclass to the watching Kaymer.

Shots like McDowell's stunning approach to just three inches on the 14th were not in US PGA champion Kaymer's locker yesterday as a wayward three-over-par 74 left the German struggling just to make the cut on 146, four-over par.

Kaymer will have to find his range at the Valderrama course if he is to have any chance of preventing Lee Westwood taking over at the summit from Woods. A series of missed greens and three bogeys in the last five holes -- which included a missed three-foot putt on the last -- was nothing like the form Kaymer showed when claiming victory at Pebble Beach in August.

Westwood -- at home resting an injured calf -- will become world No 1 if Kaymer does not achieve his top-two goal tomorrow.

McDowell had sympathy for Kaymer, saying: "Martin has not had his best two days, but he is a world-class player and there are still two rounds to go. I am just concentrating on controlling my own game and I will just keep doing what I'm doing for the next couple of days."

Maybin's 68 gives the Ulsterman a chance to thwart his friend McDowell, and claim his maiden European Tour title. He is two strokes better than third-placed Swede Niclas Fasth (66).

Ryder Cup stars Miguel Angel Jimenez and Francesco Molinari were among those alongside Larrazabal on two-under for the tournament, while their vice-captain at Celtic Manor, Sergio Garcia, slipped to one-over-par thanks in part to a double-bogey at the fifth.

Elsewhere, licensed pilot Pariya Junhasavasdikul nailed five birdies over the closing seven holes to share the half-way lead with American Ben Crane at the Asia Pacific Classic yesterday.

Thai Junhasavasdikul, who tasted his maiden Asian Tour triumph at the Mercuries Taiwan Masters earlier this month, blasted a six-under-par 65 to move to 11-under-par at the Mines Resort and Golf Club.

Andalucia Masters,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 1.0

Irish Independent

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