Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

McDowell stumble boosts Kaymer

Graeme McDowell
Graeme McDowell

Another mid-round stutter dealt further blows to Graeme McDowell's hopes of winning the European Tour money list this weekend.

Five shots behind title rival Martin Kaymer after a level par opening 72 in the race-ending Dubai World Championship, McDowell birdied three of the first seven holes. The Ulsterman was up from 25th to sixth as a result - he needs a top three finish to have any chance - but then came the stumble.

After three-putting the 461-yard eighth he bogeyed the next as well and was back down to 26th spot.

Kaymer was in third place overnight on five under, two strokes behind leader Robert Karlsson and seeking the top two finish that could see him dethrone Lee Westwood as world number one as well.

But Westwood signalled his intention to deny him in that by setting off again with a hat-trick of birdies and moving into a tie for second place on six under.

The first of them came despite him driving into a fairway bunker, while he was through the back of the long second in two, but made an eight-footer, and then he chipped in at the next.

There was already banter between him and playing partner Ian Poulter, who also birdied them all as he boosted his hopes of making it two wins in a row after his triumph at the Hong Kong Open last Sunday.

What Westwood and Poulter had done - six birdies between them in the first three holes - was also achieved by Rory McIlroy and Francesco Molinari. But while McIlroy then bogeyed the sixth and double-bogeyed the eighth to crash back to one under with compatriot McDowell, Molinari added three more birdies in the following five holes.

There was also a bogey in there, however, and when he dropped another shot at the ninth for an eventful outward 32 he was five under.

It was Molinari, of course, who beat Westwood in Shanghai earlier this month the week after the Worksop golfer had taken over from Tiger Woods as world number one.

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