ABU DHABI // Martin Kaymer knows what it takes to deal with the trials and tribulations of the Abu Dhabi Championship, having led from wire to wire two years ago. The German has his eyes firmly fixed on the Falcon Trophy again after timing his run splendidly yesterday to snatch a narrow advantage going into what should be a captivating finale this afternoon when six of his rivals will start their fourth rounds within three shots of the lead.
He has gone round the 7,510-yard National Course in 67 strokes on each of the last three days and reckoned the same again today will be enough to emulate England's Paul Casey in becoming a dual winner of the five-year-old event. Kaymer's previous win here in 2008 was at a canter, having eased off on the final Sunday in comfortably protecting his commanding six-shot lead. It will require a different mindset this time - and he knows it.
"Six shots is a lot different from one shot," he said. "This time I have to think about expanding the lead, which requires a different approach." There are a dozen players with a realistic chance of overtaking Kaymer today and even Sergio Garcia, who looked a strong prospect to prevail after Friday's second round, does not yet have to abandon hope after slipping to six shots off the pace. The strongest threat to Kaymer, though, is likely to come from the pair who go out with him in a 12 noon shoot-out - Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy and England's Ian Poulter.
McIlroy, seeking a Desert Swing double after his splendid performance in Dubai last year, was unsure of what it would take to earn his second career title. Mindful that a fourth successive 67 by Kaymer would set a daunting target of 20 under par, McIlroy remarked: "If that happened I would have to shoot 66 [to get into a play-off]. "There is no reason why I couldn't do that because that's what I shot in the first round. At the start of the week I didn't think anything in the 20s would win but now it's looking possible."
McIlroy and Poulter played together and matched each other shot for shot after getting off to flyers. Their identical cards of 67 were in the end disappointing because - like Kaymer - they both quickly got to three under for the day. firstname.lastname@example.org