Martin Kaymer produced his best round of the week at the Andalucia Masters on Saturday, but the the 25-year-old German will need a spectacular final round if he is to claim the world No. 1 spot.
Kaymer trails joint leaders Graeme McDowell and Gareth Maybin by nine strokes going into yesterday’s finale at Valderrama, with the Dusseldorf-born youngster needing a top-two result to climb to golf’s summit today.
A one-under-par 70 in Saturday’s third round in calm morning conditions and a three-over-par aggregate of 216 seem to have left Kaymer with no chance of denying Lee Westwood the opportunity of ending Tiger Woods’ 281-week spell as No. 1.
However, Kaymer’s chances did increase as strong, veering breezes hit the southern Spain course in the afternoon, hauling him through the field into a tie for 17th place.
Even with only six players now under par, though, USPGA champion Kaymer looks to have too much to do.
The German youngster could put third-placed Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez and Irishman Damien McGrane, five strokes ahead of him, in his sights, but he has a huge task to dislodge one or both of the leaders.
If he cannot, Westwood, at home nursing a calf injury, will take over the No. 1 ranking.
McDowell is trying to collect the 500,000 euros (US$694,000) first prize to carve away a large chunk of the almost 1 million euros he lags behind Kaymer on Europe’s money list with five events, including this one, to count.
The US Open champion looked like he would take a handy lead into yesterday, but hindered his chances with a double-bogey on the last hole in a round of 72. That allowed fellow Northern Irishman and great friend Maybin (70) to catch him.
“I’d had a stretch of holes when I was all over the place, but then I steadied the ship and I stood on the 18th tee thinking ‘let’s just get the job done,’ but it was one of those careless finishes,” McDowell told reporters. “The weather’s spread-eagled the field, but Gareth’s going to be a tough opponent tomorrow.”
Maybin, with two second-place finishes on his record, battled back from two opening bogeys to share the four-shot lead on six-under 207 over Jimenez and McGrane.