• "I'm a little shocked," says Kaymer
• Unknown Frenchman, Gary Stal, takes title
MARTIN KAYMER | EUROPEAN TOUR
Martin Kaymer blew a ten shot lead yesterday to throw away a chance to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship for a fourth time.
Kaymer had led by as many as ten shots early on thanks to three birdies in his first four holes, but he was unable to keep up the form that got him into such a commanding position on the previous three days. Everything that could go wrong for the Ryder Cup star did go wrong, allowing little-known Gary Stal, a 22-year-old Frenchman, to take the title.
Martin Kaymer’s three-over 75 included one double bogey and one triple bogey, and no birdies from the fourth hole onwards. He eventually finished third behind Rory McIlroy, runner-up for the fourth time in five years.
"I don’t really know how to put it into words." - Martin Kaymer
“I'm surprised, a little shocked,” said Kaymer when asked for his thoughts on the round. “I don’t really know how to put it into words. It was very, very surprising today.
“Twice I missed the grass and I was in a bush. Had to drop it in the sand. Obviously then you get a bad lie and then it’s tough to make bogey. I haven’t done that all week long. Unfortunately I did today and, therefore, cost me the tournament.”
Stal, who hails from Decines, just outside Lyon, in south eastern France, said it was a “crazy day”.
“It was a crazy day but obviously I’m very happy to win this tournament. It’s unbelievable to win, because when I saw the leaderboard on the fifth hole, I saw Martin Kaymer on 24-under-par and I thought to myself then it’s not possible to win. But when I saw my name on the leaderboard on the 16th green, I saw everything had changed, and then it was possible,” said Stal, who pockets almost €380,000 for the win.
“For the four days, my attitude stayed the same. I told myself at the beginning of the tournament that I wouldn’t get upset, and it paid off. Because I thought if I could putt well, if I could play shot by shot, it would pay dividends. Therefore, I just kept playing the same way, with the same attitude. But it’s an incredible feeling.”
World No.1 McIlroy showed little signs of holiday rust and closed with a six-under 66 to finish second for the fourth time in five years. He said: “Going out today, my goal today was to finish second. I didn’t think I was going to get close to winning the golf tournament. I think Martin was ten ahead at one point. You think from there, there’s only one winner, but just shows you, funny things can happen in this game.”