Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (SportsNetwork.com) – Martin Kaymer coughed up
a 10-stroke lead in eight holes Sunday to hand Gary Stal the title at the Abu
Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
Stal fired a 7-under 65 to earn the improbable victory. He finished at 19-
under-par 269 for his first European Tour win.
“It’s unbelievable. I’m very, very, very happy,” Stal said. “I can’t believe
it. When I saw Kaymer on 23-under, I said in my head, ‘It is not possible.’
When I saw him back on 17-under, I thought it was possible.”
Kaymer dropped six strokes in eight holes to fall from the lead. He closed
with 3-over 75 and ended alone in third place at 17-under-par 271. Kaymer’s 75
matched the worst round of the day, while Stal’s 65 tied the best round of the
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy picked up six birdies over the last 11 holes to
finish second for the fourth time at this event. He closed with a 6-under 66
on the National Course at Abu Dhabi Golf Club and ended at minus-18.
Victor Dubuisson (67) and Thomas Pieters (70) shared fourth at 16-under-par
272. Bernd Wiesberger closed with a 1-under 71. He was joined at minus-14 by
James Morrison and Tyrrell Hatton, who both closed with 67s.
Kaymer birdied the first from seven feet out, then dropped his third shot at
the par-5 second to three feet. He knocked that in for birdie. Kaymer also
birdied the fourth to move to 23-under par, and after Pieters bogeyed the
fifth, Kaymer was 10 clear of the field.
The German could only pitch his second down the fairway at the sixth. He flew
the green with his third. After his chip for par horseshoed the hole, Kaymer
tapped in for bogey.
Stal, who was in the group ahead of Kaymer, had four pars in the first five
holes. He birdied the fourth and sixth to move to 14-under.
The Frenchman started to make a big move with a birdie at the eighth. Stal
followed with birdies on the next three holes and that spurt moved him to
Kaymer hit his drive near a bush on the ninth and took a penalty drop. He
found a greenside bunker with his third. After chipping on, Kaymer 2-putted
With Stal’s run of birdies and Kaymer double-bogey, Kaymer’s lead was down to
Another wayward drive at 13 led to another drop for Kaymer. He came up well
short with his third, then duffed his chip. His fifth shot hit the pin, but he
needed two putts to get down for a triple-bogey.
Suddenly, Kaymer was one behind Stal, who parred four in a row from the 12th.
Stal poured in a long birdie putt at the 16th to move to 19-under, where he
was two clear of Kaymer and McIlroy.
Stal parred the final two holes to hang on for the win.
“I played really good all week and today was good driving, good putting,
everything was perfect,” said Stal, who won twice on the Challenge Tour in
Kaymer wrapped up his round with five straight pars to finish two back.
“I don’t really know how to put it into words. It was very, very surprising
today. I started off well and hit a couple bad tee shots and cost me double-
bogey and a triple-bogey,” explained Kaymer. “Twice, I missed the grass and I
was in a bush and I had to drop it in the sand. I missed a lot of putts today,
and therefore, was very difficult for me to make birdies.”
McIlroy was even-par through seven holes. He started to climb the leaderboard
thanks to three straight birdies from the eighth. Birdies at 13 and 15 moved
him to 17-under. McIlroy closed with a birdie at the last to end
NOTES: Stal, who entered the week ranked 357th in the world, earned 379,798
euros for the victory … Stal tied for fifth last week at the South African
Open Championship, and that had been his best career finish on the European
Tour … The tour heads to Doha next week for the Commercial Bank Qatar
Masters, where Sergio Garcia beat Mikko Ilonen in a playoff last year.