Kaymer continues dominance in Abu Dhabi

Martin Kaymer earned his fifth European Tour title Sunday at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Martin Kaymer must wish he could play every European Tour event at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.

The 25-year-old German has a serious liking for the place. He’s also earned quite a bit of money plying his trade on the Abu Dhabi fairways.

But then Abu Dhabi is not short of money. That was blatantly obvious this week.

Kaymer won the €1.5 million Abu Dhabi Golf Championship for the second time in three years when he edged Ian Poulter in a dramatic final-round showdown.

Kaymer sneaked past Poulter by a shot with a closing 6-under-par 66 for a 21-under 267 total for the week. Rory McIlroy finished alone in third place at 19 under.

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Martin Kaymer celebrates after sinking the winning putt.

Kaymer earned the €250,000 first-place check and perhaps the same again in appearance money, as Abu Dhabi spent large wads of cash to lure one of the strongest fields ever assembled in the Middle East.

Money is power in this part of the world, and Abu Dhabi flexed its large financial muscle to overshadow nearest rivals Dubai and Qatar. Given the field, the winner and the trio of Kaymer, Poulter and McIlroy in the last group, the estimated $2 million spent on appearance fees will look like money well spent.

Kaymer notched his fifth European Tour win in the past three years. He took his career earnings to just over €5.7 million, €603,162 of which has come in Abu Dhabi.

The victory hardly came as any great shock. The German is a cumulative 56 under par around the Abu Dhabi course. He won in 2008, his first European Tour win, and finished second last year.

“This course really suits my eye, and I can read the greens well here,” Kaymer said.

Poulter should think about taking five weeks off before he plays every tournament. It’s a pretty good formula. Poulter had hardly touched a club before arriving in Abu Dhabi. He would have been champion if not for Kaymer’s impressive performance.

Poulter won the Barclays Singapore Open last year after a five-week break, and it nearly paid off in Abu Dhabi, too.

The Englishman matched Kaymer’s 66 in the final round. Indeed, he held a one-stroke lead at one point at 20 under. However, Kaymer caught him with a birdie at the par-4 14th hole and set the stage for a grand finale.

Tied with Poulter playing the par-5 18th, Kaymer produced a touch of power and class to steal the title. Kaymer’s 3-wood second shot from 275 yards found the green, while Poulter was forced to lay up. Kaymer’s 60-foot eagle putt ended up 3 feet short of the hole, and Poulter missed a 20-foot birdie putt to take the championship to extra holes.

Kaymer calmly holed his birdie putt for the title.

The €1.5 million purse was one of the smallest prize funds on the European Tour this year, as there are 25 tournaments of the 49 so far penciled into the schedule with prize funds greater than Abu Dhabi.

The upcoming Qatar Masters and the following Dubai Desert Classic have bigger purses, with matching prize funds of €2.5 million. However, both events won’t come close to matching the field assembled in Abu Dhabi.

Five of the world’s top 10 teed it up in Abu Dhabi, and 18 of the top 50. Anthony Kim, Geoff Ogilvy, Poulter, Kaymer, Sergio Garcia, Camilo Villegas, Lee Westwood, Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson and McIlroy were the marquee names lured into the field by Abu Dhabi money.

Kaymer’s dramatic victory looks like money well spent, but then it was perhaps a foregone conclusion, given the German’s liking for the golf course.

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