Abu Dhabi: Martin Kaymer tightened his grip on the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Friday, shooting a second-round 67 to move to 13 under par following a flawless morning in the desert.
The German, who rattled in 10 birdies for an opening 64, is a three-times winner of the tournament and holds the record lowest score, a devastating 24 under in 2011.
“I’ll give it my best to get into the 20s (under par),” Kaymer, 30, told reporters. “I can’t even remember how I played in 2011 - I know I didn’t miss many fairways and once you do that you have chances.”
Starting one stroke clear of Belgium’s Thomas Pieters on eight under, the world number 12 picked up shots at his third, fourth and ninth holes.
Kaymer chipped in from the bunker at the next to reach 12 under, but then found sure-fire birdie chances difficult to create, missing from 15 feet or more on the next six holes.
The two-times major winner sunk an eight-foot putt on his 17th for a fifth birdie and did not drop a shot all day.
“I made 80-85 percent of the realistic birdie chances,” said Kaymer.
“It’s only halftime. There are always some guys who can shoot the same score I did in the first two days, so I approach tomorrow the way I approached this morning: very neutral. It’s nice to have a bit of a cushion, hopefully, but nothing has been done yet.”
Kaymer was most recently in the world`s top 10 in 2012 and last May was outside the world top 60 before winning the U.S. Open by eight strokes to end a three-year title drought on the European Tour. That experience of leading from the front could be decisive in Abu Dhabi.
“At the U.S. Open I really played my own game, I didn’t compare myself to the other players, I was trying to see how low I could play and I stayed aggressive,” Kaymer said.
“You’re playing well, so you need to continue and not play more defensive.”
Most golfers find the National course easier in the morning, because swirling winds kick up in the afternoon and the temperature also soars, but Kaymer said early starts were also hazardous.
“Once you miss the fairway, you’re in that thick, wet grass and it’s almost impossible to get home in two on the par fours,” he added.
World number one Rory McIlroy picked up three shots in his opening 11 holes to move to eight under par, five behind Kaymer.