Kaymer flourishes in desert to put Europe on top of the world

European golf awakes today boasting the top two players in the world for the first time in 18 years. For England's Nick Faldo and Germany's Bernhard Langer, read England's Lee Westwood and Germany's Martin Kaymer. Last night the comparisons were criss-crossing the generations.

Except this was Kaymer's day and, appropriately enough considering the man he replaced as world No 2, the 26-year-old, at the very least, paid a passing resemblance to Tiger Woods. Kaymer sucked the atmosphere out of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship and drained the fight out of his rivals in recording an eight-shot victory over Rory McIlroy.

The Woods comparisons are no doubt over the top; with nine career victories the USPGA champion does have some way to go before any legend says about him "he plays a game with which I'm not familiar". But when it comes to this event, the hyperbole does apply. As the words of Ian Poulter highlighted.

"I just had a chat with the world No 1 about the new No 2 and we are not sure what course Martin was playing," said the Englishman, dumbfounded at the 24-under winning total. "It's not the same course we played." Poulter missed the cut, while Westwood finished 26 shots behind, in a tie for 64th.

There was, however, no reason for any blushing on Westwood's behalf. Not only was this event a rust-removing exercise for him, but this desert is so clearly Kaymer's natural habitat.

As evidence consider that this was his third Abu Dhabi crown in four years and that in his "off" year he was second. Kaymer is 80-under for his last 16 rounds. And this just happened to be his best week ever. This was the first time in nine years a player has won on the European Tour with just one dropped shot since Woods at the WGC-CA Championship nine years ago. Kaymer's solitary bogey came on the third hole of his very first round. For the 69 holes thereafter he was faultless on the scorecard.

"It doesn't get better than that – unless, obviously, you have no bogeys, but I'm very happy," said Kaymer, after winning his fourth event from the last eight he has entered, starting with the USPGA last August. "It's funny, as my only bogey came from a shank. I wanted to go three days without a bogey as I'd never done that. Yes, this is the best I've ever played."

On leapfrogging Woods, he added: "It makes me very proud to be ranked higher than the player who, for me, is the best in the world. With Lee and me at Nos 1 and 2 it just shows how strong European golf is. Of course, the US Tour is a fantastic tour but our tour doesn't have to hide anywhere. Just look at Rory. It's just a matter of time before he wins a big, big tournament somewhere."

McIlroy began the day five behind, but failed to land a meaningful blow. When he bogeyed the fifth and Kaymer birdied, the gap was seven. "It was over there and then," confessed McIlory. The young Ulsterman commendably battled on for a 69 to ensure outright second ahead of Retief Goosen and Graeme McDowell in third. "This is a great starting point for me – hugely positive," said the 21-year-old. "I don't think there's anybody in the world who could have topped Martin this week. He's a class act."

Indeed he is and this triumph sets up the rest of the Desert Swing magnificently. Kaymer and Westwood will next meet at next week's Qatar Masters, where the former could usurp the latter as No 1. Then, the week after, Woods – who makes his seasonal bow at Torrey Pines on Thursday – will arrive in the United Arab Emirates for the Dubai Desert Classic.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform