China's Zhang Xinjun celebrates after making an eagle on the 16th hole at the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai yesterday.
Martin Kaymer capitalized on a flurry of birdies to shoot a brilliant final-round 63 to win the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai by three strokes with a 20-under-par total of 268 yesterday.
The 26-year-old German had not won since his Abu Dhabi Championship triumph in January took him top of the world rankings but he made sure he would end the season on a high note with the lowest final-day winner's score in the event.
Kaymer had started the round in a share of sixth place, five shots off the lead held by Swede Fredrik Jacobson, who was initially challenged by fast-starting Britons Rory McIlroy and Paul Casey.
However, the entire field was swept aside by Kaymer, who opened with six straight pars before storming to the title with nine birdies in his final 12 holes at the Sheshan International Club.
"It was the first time I have had a run of birdies like that since I shot a 59 on the (domestic) EPD Tour in Germany in my first year as a professional," Kaymer said. "I felt I had been playing good the last few weeks before coming here. Now it's nice to have done it in a WGC event."
Kaymer's golden run started when he holed his recovery shot for birdie from a greenside bunker at the seventh hole.
"After that," he said. "I don't think I missed a shot or a putt. But it was the birdie I made at the 17th (where he holed a 20 footer) that I think won the tournament for me." Kaymer's win, and a purse of US$1.2 million, moved him up to second place on the European Tour order of merit, 1.026 million euros (US$1.411 million) behind absent Englishman Luke Donald, and 105,382 euros ahead of McIlroy.
Jacobson, who qualified to play in Shanghai after June's Travelers Championship win ended a wait of eight years on the PGA Tour for a win, started his round with a bogey but remained at the top of the leaderboard with four birdies.
The Swede was unable to make any more birdies after the 14th hole and his overnight three-stroke lead ended up as a three-shot deficit when he completed a 1-under 71.
McIlroy started four off the lead and mounted an early challenge with birdies on his first two holes, knowing that if he finished first or second, ahead of Lee Westwood, he would climb above the Englishman to second in the world rankings.
However, two missed short putts stalled the Northern Irishman's charge and he eventually finished in a tie for fourth place alongside Casey and South Africa's Charl Schwartzel, five behind Kaymer.
Casey had made an even more positive move up the leaderboard than McIlroy after starting six shots adrift of Jacobson, the Englishman birdying five of in his first six holes before closing the round with 12 straight pars.
Last year's US Open champion Graeme McDowell emerged from the pack to seal third place with a 67 that reflected a remarkable turnaround in the space of seven days. In attempting to defend his Andalucia Masters title on the European Tour last weekend, the Northern Irishman shot 81 and 82 to miss the halfway cut.
"I hope now that was only a small blip on the radar," he said after ending four shots behind the winner.
Adam Scott, hounded by questions over caddie Steve Williams' racial slur against former boss Tiger Woods, got within two shots of the lead early in the round until making two soft bogeys and never recovering. He closed with a 73 and was eight shots behind.