Unheralded Gary Stal wins in Abu Dhabi after a remarkable collapse from Martin Kaymer.
You may find hard to believe that any professional golfer could throw away a 10-shot lead in the final round of a golf tournament, and certainly not Martin Kaymer. But the normally unflappable German, the same golfer who won the 2014 US Open by a massive eight strokes, threw away a 10-stroke lead in the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship overnight.
The capitulation led to a surprsing victory from unheralded Frenchman Gary Stal who eventually won the tournament by one stroke from world number one Rory McIlroy.
Kaymer birdied three of his opening four holes to assume a 10-stroke lead when he arrived at the fifth tee. But it was here where things started to unravel.
Kaymer’s driver got a little wayward and led to a bogey at the sixth, a double-bogey at the ninth anda disastrous triple-bogey at the 13th.
“It was very, very surprising today. I started off well but then I hit a couple of bad tee shots and it cost me a double bogey and a triple bogey,” Kaymer said after his round.
“I do miss fairways, but usually you get away with it okay, you don’t make double or triple bogey. But that is what happened today.”
Meanwhile, Stal and McIlroy were carding great final rounds.
Stal had made six birdies in his opening 11 holes and assumed the lead after Kaymer’s triple-bogey and finished with a bogey-free 7-under 65. McIlroy pushed him all the way home but finished a stroke behind the Frenchman.
“It was a crazy day but obviously I’m very happy to win this tournament,” Stal said.
“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 that 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.”
I hate seeing this sort of collapse on the golf course, I’d much rather see someone win the tournament than lose it. But you could argue that both McIlroy and Stal were making enough birdies to apply the pressure on Kaymer, and shows that even the best of them play bad golf under pressure.
Something many of us weekend hackers can relate to.