Kaymer takes over as world No. 1, to face Donald in Accenture finale

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By reaching the Accenture Match Play finals, Martin Kaymer as accumulated enough world ranking points to displace Lee Westwood, who had been No. 1 since he replaced Tiger Woods at the end of October.
By
Doug Ferguson
Associated Press

Series:

Martin Kaymer is the new No. 1 in golf, this time without much debate.

Kaymer calmly rolled in an 8-foot par putt on the 18th hole Saturday for a 1-up victory over Bubba Watson to advance to the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship. That was all he needed to move to No. 1 in the next world ranking.

The 26-year-old German becomes the second-youngest player to be No. 1 since the ranking began in 1986. Tiger Woods was 21 when he reached No. 1 in June 1997.

It ends the 17-week reign of Lee Westwood, who had only three wins on his world ranking ledger when he became No. 1.

Kaymer has won seven times in the last two years, including his first major in the PGA Championship at Whistling Straits when he beat Watson in a three-hole playoff.

And another big win might not be too far away.

With his 1-up victory, Kaymer advanced to the championship match Sunday against Luke Donald of England, who set an Accenture Match Play Championship record by needing only 73 holes in five matches to get to the last match.

Kaymer, though, already has reason to celebrate.

"It's obviously very special for me to be the second German," he said of the world ranking. Bernhard Langer was the first player to be No. 1 when the ranking debuted at the 1986 Masters. He stayed there for only three weeks.

Even so, more hard work awaits.

No one has been more dominant at Dove Mountain than Donald, who has yet to trail in any of his five matches. Donald only had to play 27 holes in his quarterfinal win over Ryan Moore and his demolition of Matt Kuchar in the semifinals.

It marks the second straight year for an all-European final in this World Golf Championship. A year ago, Ian Poulter defeated Paul Casey in the championship match.

Watson, who came into Saturday having played only 43 holes in three matches, faced 37 holes in a long and wild day. Watson was 5 down with eight to play against J.B. Holmes when he staged an amazing comeback. Holmes hit into the desert at the wrong time and lost in 19 holes.

Kaymer and Watson were all square going to 15 when it turned in favor of the "Germanator."

Watson tried to play a massive slice on the 334-yard hole with his driver, but it sailed far to the left and into a desert bush. He had to take a penalty drop and gave away the hole. Then with Kaymer long and right on the par-3 16th, Watson also missed the green and failed to get up-and-down for par, giving Kaymer a 2-up lead with two holes to play.

Watson made a 6-foot birdie putt on the 17th to stay in the match, but his shot from a fairway bunker on the 18th spun off the false front of the green. Kaymer went long, chipped to 8 feet and made the par.

"The matches I had were very difficult," said Kaymer, who also went 18 holes in a 1-up win over Miguel Angel Jimenez in the quarterfinals earlier Saturday.

Not so for Donald, who headed to the gym during the final hour of the Kaymer match to work up a sweat. He hasn't gotten too much of a workout on the golf course through five matches.

A win for Donald would move him up to a career-best No. 3 in the world.

"That would be an added bonus," Donald said. "I'll be concentrating on trying to beat whoever I'm playing against and trying to pick up a trophy."

Donald has been nothing short of brilliant on his record-setting march to the final.

When he holed a short birdie putt on the par-5 13th to close out Kuchar, it was his 13th birdie in 27 holes he played in quarterfinal and semifinal matches. Donald has played only 73 holes in five matches, the fewest of anyone to reach the championship match in the 13-year history of this tournament. The previous record was 77 holes by Woods in 2003.

Donald became only the second finalist to have never seen the 18th hole in competition. Geoff Ogilvy in 2007 was the other. With the format change from 36 holes to 18 holes for Sunday, he could go the entire tournament without playing No. 18.

"Hopefully, I don't get to it again tomorrow -- the right way," Donald said.

He has been so dominant that Donald has not trailed on a single hole all week -- on only five of 73 holes has his match been all square.

"I've been stringing together a lot of good rounds, making birdies and not too many mistakes," he said. "I've been tough to beat this week, and hopefully that can continue."

Donald won three straight holes around the turn to build a big lead against Ryan Moore in the quarterfinals, winning 5 and 4. He looked even better against Kuchar, seizing the lead with a tee shot into 4 feet on the par-3 third hole, starting a stretch in which he won seven of the next eight holes.

"Had I got somebody else on today's round, I may have still been able to come out with a win," Kuchar said. "You face Luke Donald on a day he's really hot, you pack your bags early."

Donald has been hot all week.

Now comes Kaymer, whom he described as a steady, consistent player, as the last two years have shown.

"Like me, but hits it further," Donald said with a smile.

 

 


Comments

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