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Kaymer cruises to third Abu Dhabi title

Sheikh Hazza Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, stands with Martin Kaymer of Germany as he lifts the winner's cup to celebrates in the finals of the 2011 Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at the national course of the Emirati capital's Golf Club. (AFP)


German golf star Martin Kaymer won the 2.7 million dollar Abu Dhabi Golf Championship for an unprecedented third time here on Sunday charging away to win by eight shots.

The 26-year-old US PGA Championship titleholder shot a bogey-free round of six-under par 66 for a 24-under-par 264 total, recording only one bogey on his third hole on the opening day.

Kaymer not only won 450,000 dollars, but more importantly, it also took him to second in the world rankings behind England's Lee Westwood, relegating Tiger Woods to third.

The new rankings due to be released on Monday will see Europe holding the top two placings for the first time since Nick Faldo and Bernhard Langer were 1-2 in 1993.

Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy, who started the day five shots behind Kaymer, fell further back despite shooting a three-under par 69, but his 16-under-par 272 total was two shots better than Retief Goosen of South Africa and another Ulsterman Graeme McDowell, who were tied third at 274.

Goosen shot the day's best round of 64, while US Open champion McDowell closed with a 67.

McDowell's finish ensured he will now move ahead of American Phil Mickelson as the new world number four.

Both players were tied for the fourth place this week.

Kaymer said the key to his final round was not to get complacent because of the lead and his determination not to make any bogey.

"I think you have to set yourself some goals going into the last rounds, and if you lead the tournament, I think it's the wrong attitude to go into the last round just defending your lead.

"I think you have to keep playing, keep trying to make birdies.

"My goal was to avoid bogeys today (Sunday). I just wanted to give myself plenty of chances for birdie, but obviously secure my par. I had an okay start. I was two under after nine holes, but then I had a good back nine.

"But even on the back nine, there were some putts that I didn't think will go in. Of course, I want to make every putt, but if you're leading by six or seven shots, it's not really that important.

"But the putts, they kept dropping in. So it was just one of those tournaments where everything goes my way."

Kaymer said that he was honoured to have replaced Woods as number two in the world rankings.

"It's quite nice to overtake somebody who is probably the best player in the world, perhaps the best player that ever lived.

"To be in front of him for a little bit - we'll see how long it takes him to overtake me again - it makes me very proud to be better in the world rankings than the best player in the world."

McIlroy, despite getting beaten by a whopping margin, was happy with the way he played his first tournament of the season.

"It's a great starting point. First event of the season, finishing second in a great tournament like this with a great field, it's a huge positive, and hopefully I can just keep progressing and get my game where I want it to be going into the rest of the season," said the Ulsterman.

"After the first couple of holes today, I was just trying to consolidate the second place, that's all you're really playing for. Martin played great all week and I don't think there was anyone in the world who could have topped him this week."

Masters champion Mickelson, one of the star attractions of the tournament, finished tied 39th at five-under par, while Westwood continued to struggle and was tied 64th after a second successive round of 73.