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European Masters: Rory McIlroy looks forward to Kaymer clash

By Bernie McGuire

Rory McIlroy is relishing the likelihood of an Omega European Masters final round showdown with fellow Major champion Martin Kaymer and the extra prize of a likely World No. 3 ranking.

McIlroy missed a short birdie putt on the final green that would have handed him a one stroke lead at the halfway mark on the Crans-sur-Sierre course.

His eventual two under par 69 left McIlroy tied at the top of the board on eight under par with the England pair of Gary Boyd (69) and recent Irish Open winner, Simon Dyson (68) along with Welshman Jamie Donaldson (66).

Kaymer (70) is among four players tied in fifth place at seven under par that also includes England’s Nick Dougherty who finally ended a miserable run of 20 missed cuts after a round of 72.

McIlroy struggled on the greens like most players in the afternoon half of the draw.

“There’s lot of traffic on the greens around this time of the day and they’re also starting to seed, but then they really get you thinking a lot more,” said McIlroy.

“But we can’t complain as we get spoilt for about 75% of the year, as we play on perfect greens.”

McIlroy highlighted his round early when he drove the 314-metre par four, fifth hole and with his ball landing three feet from the flag he had an eagle two.

However McIlroy handed those shots back at the par five ninth where he found a greenside bunker with his third shot from where he splashed out to six feet but proceeded to three putt.

The still cramped nature of the World Rankings sees just .19 ranking points separating current World No. 3, Steve Stricker from McIlroy at No. 5 while Kaymer, who is at No. 4 is just .030 points ahead of the Irishman.

“For sure, it would add extra spice to the tournament to see Martin and I fighting for the title on Sunday,” said McIlroy.

“It’s a great leader board with me at eight, Martin at seven and Lee at six, and then you have Simon Dyson who won in Ireland.

Open champion Darren Clarke shot a 71, despite 34 putts, and then received the ‘Golfer of the Month’ trophy after his Royal St. George’s triumph

Michael Hoey made the cut with a pair of 70s but heading back down the mountain was Ballyclare’s Gareth Maybin ( 72 & 71) and Shane Lowry (70 & 74).

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