Martin Kaymer targets strong start at Abu Dhabi Golf Championship
By Ali Stafford
Last Updated: 19/01/16 2:48pm
Martin Kaymer is intent on avoiding a repeat of last year’s start to the season when he gets his 2016 underway at this week’s Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.
The German is a three-time winner of the Desert Swing opener, but heads back to Abu Dhabi looking to banish the memory of squandering a 10-stroke lead during the final round here last year.
Having claimed his maiden European Tour victory with a four-shot win over Lee Westwood in 2008, Kaymer went on to register further wins in 2010 and 2011 but could not add to that tally 12 months ago.
After extending his six-shot overnight lead to 10 during the final day, Kaymer's game fell away over the back nine as a three-over 75 handed Gary Stal an unlikely victory.
The 31-year-old is without a win since his US Open triumph in 2014, but feels his game is in good shape after spells practicing in Phoenix and Dubai in recent weeks.
"Hopefully we'll start the season a little bit better than last year," Kaymer told Sky Sports News HQ. "It's a place where I have so many positives, so many good memories and a lot of emotions.
"It's probably the best tournament for me to start the season with. It seems like the tournament gets better every year, so more challenging for me and the other players to win it.
"With the Olympic Games and the Ryder Cup, it's a big year for us, so if you win here, it gives you a nice start to an important season."
Kaymer has been grouped alongside Stal and world No 5 Henrik Stenson, who returns to action after undergoing surgery on a torn meniscus in his right knee in last month.
The Swede finished second in his last start at the Nedbank Golf Challenge, one of six runner-up finishes worldwide in 2015, but is not setting his expectations too high as he edges back to full fitness.
"Waiting is the key challenge for me now after the knee operation," Stenson told Sky Sports News HQ. "You just have to take it as it comes.
"The game feels pretty good, I feel fine hitting balls and all the rest of it. I could have potentially had a bit more practice done, but we are coming off the Christmas holidays and everything else.
"It's time to pick up the game and I will see how the knee holds up after walking for five days in a row."
Watch the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship throughout the week live on Sky Sports 4 - your home of golf. Live coverage gets underway on Thursday from 3.30am.