GERMANY’S Martin Kaymer came through the most searching test of his young career yesterday — and lies sixth in the Ryder Cup race.
The 23-year-old won the BMW International in Munich for his second European Tour title, but only after losing a six-shot lead and being forced into a play-off by Dane Anders Hansen.
He dedicated the victory to his seriously ill mother, crying and saying: “This was for you.”
After three days of superb golf Kaymer struggled to the turn in 38 and when he ran up a triple-bogey eight on the long 11th, hitting two balls in the lake short of the green, it was all going horribly wrong.
Greg Norman, of course, famously lost the 1996 Masters to Nick Faldo from the same position, but last season’s Rookie of the Year refused to fold.
Hansen, who had knee surgery less than a month ago and was playing his first event back, set the target of 15 under par with a closing birdie.
Kaymer, though, matched it and when they returned to the 568-yard hole he struck a massive drive and his approach finished just seven feet from the flag.
With Hansen in two bunkers and not even making par, it did not matter that the Dusseldorf player, compared on Friday by Bernhard Langer to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson for his smart and aggressive mix, failed with his eagle attempt.
He moves up four spots in the cup standings with only 10 weeks left and now has a great chance of making his debut in September.
English trio Paul Casey, John Bickerton and Mark Foster tied for third on 13 under, while Colin Montgomerie’s 16th place was his best stroke play finish since January.
When he won in Abu Dhabi in January — two weeks before finishing runner-up to Woods in Dubai with a birdie-birdie-eagle finish — Kaymer was also six ahead entering the final round and turned in 39.
He was not caught on that occasion and eventually won by four, but remembering that he said: “Six shots is a lot, but it does not feel like that.
“I struggled a little bit and made a big mistake on the 11th. I thought I would make it easy with a five-iron, but got a little loft on the ball.
“I didn’t keep my patience, but I will know for next time and I kept fighting.”
Hansen, originally told he could be out for four to six weeks, had been eight behind at the start of the day, but closed with two 67s.
It was Casey’s best finish of the season, but he still has some catching up to do to retain his Ryder Cup place.
He does not play again until the Open, however, as he wants to be fresh for the final run-in.
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