Martin Kaymer defeated Bubba Watson 1-up in a hard-fought match to not only reach the Match Play Championship finals, but also to overtake Lee Westwood as the No. 1 ranked player in the world (when the new OWGR rankings come out on Monday). The match seesawed between Kaymer and Bubba until the 26-year-old German took advantage of Bubba’s errant shots on the 15th and 16th holes to go 2-up. Bubba battled back with a birdie on the 17th to extend the duel to the 18th.
Bubba’s drive found a deep bunker, while Kaymer split the fairway. Bubba almost hit the shot of the year — if it had gone a few inches further, it would have been perfect, but his ball hit the false front and rolled back to the apron. Kaymer knocked his shot over the green, but chipped it softly to about six feet. He rolled in the par putt with ease and that was the match. (Confession: I got goosebumps for a quick minute.)
“It’s sad because I lost,” Watson said. “But I played good. I didn’t really mess up too much. He just beat me.”
Kaymer is now the 14th player in the history of the Official World Golf Rankings to hold the No. 1 spot.
Asked how it felt to be number one, Kaymer was almost at a loss for words. “I don’t really know. I can probably answer that if you ask me in a week…It’s very special for me to be the second German.”
Of course, the first was Bernhard Langer. Kaymer has won eight times on the European Tour and captured the 2010 PGA Championship at Whistling Straits last August.
Kaymer will face 2010 Ryder Cup teammate Luke Donald, who is playing incredibly well, in the finals to determine the 2011 Match Play champion.
“(Luke’s) probably one of the nicest guys out here and he’s a very good matchplay player,” said Martin. “We’re playing for a big trophy, but to play against Luke is always very difficult.”
Look out for the weather, which might make things even tougher. The forecast predicts 1-3 inches of snow in the area starting in the afternoon. Snow in the desert actually sounds kind of pretty, except if you have to play golf!
(AP Photos/Elaine Thompson)