The race for Europe’s Order of Merit title probably ended Sunday on the Old Course at St. Andrews at the conclusion of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Germany’s Martin Kaymer stood with the large silver trophy, the 580,046 euros first-place check and the mantle of Europe’s best golfer draped around his talented shoulders.
Kaymer’s fourth victory of the season took him more than 1 million euros ahead of Graeme McDowell on the European money list. It seems a foregone conclusion that Kaymer will end the 2010 season at the top of the European money list. He is destined to become the only German since Bernhard Langer in 1981 and 1984 to win the European Tour’s Order of Merit.
Kaymer’s final-round 6-under 66 in bitterly cold conditions gave him a three-shot victory over England’s Danny Willett, and a four-shot advantage on overnight leader John Parry. More impressively, it was Kaymer’s third consecutive victory, following triumphs in the PGA Championship and KLM Open.
The last player to win three times in a row – and four times in a season – on the European Tour was Tiger Woods in 2006. Kaymer also won the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship to start of the season.
“It was always one of my dreams to win here,” Kaymer said. “I can still remember my first day here as an amateur, walking down the first hole and over the bridge – it felt very special to me.”
“Special” adequately describes how he punctuated the win. The 25-year-old birdied the 17th and 18th holes. He holed out from 40 feet off the green at 17 for a surprise birdie. On the last hole, he drove onto Granny Clark’s Wynd, the tarmac road that crosses the fairway, then hit his approach shot off the road to 6 feet and holed the putt.
“To make a 4 at the 17th feels like a birdie, so I don’t know how I managed a 3,” Kaymer said. “I just tried to focus on the putt.”
Perhaps most impressive was that Kaymer’s victory came just a week after helping Europe win the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor. The young German could have been forgiven for feeling a bit tired after his Ryder Cup debut. Ross Fisher came closest to Kaymer among the Ryder Cup players in the field, and he was 10 shots adrift.
This season could go down in history as the year Kaymer signaled to top Langer’s legacy. The veteran German won two Masters titles in his time, along with 42 European Tour titles. Kaymer might not top Langer’s victory total, but he seems odds-on to improve on Langer’s two major titles.
There seems to be no stopping the talented young German.