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Kaymer and McDowell set for Dubai duel

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Iain Carter | 15:05 UK time, Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Every year at the beginning of December a group of golf journalists are invited to lunch by the European Tour and we are expected to sing for our sustenance by deciding the Tour's Golfer of the Year.

It is always a convivial gathering, spiced by lively debate stirring memories of the fine golf we have witnessed over the previous 11 months, but more often than not the decision-making process is completed somewhere between the starter and the main course.

The swift selection process is not a dereliction of duty, it is simply that one outstanding candidate invariably emerges from the discussion. Indeed, there is often no need for any chat at all as it is immediately obvious to whom the accolade should go and we can raise a glass to the winner with a clear conscience.

It didn't take too long to nominate Lee Westwood last year and Padraig Harrington was the obvious choice in 2008 and 2007. But this time? Well, let's just hope the cheeseboard is well stocked because we may be arguing for quite some time.

There is very little to choose between the two outstanding candidates, Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer.

Kaymer and McDowell both want to end the year as Europe's number one - photo: Getty

Both have won majors in the United States, while Kaymer has won three other titles compared to McDowell's two. That would seem to give the edge to the German, who leads the Race to Dubai heading into this week's final event, the Dubai World Championship.

But that doesn't take account of the extraordinary role McDowell played in the final match of the Ryder Cup, holding his nerve against Hunter Mahan to win the trophy for Europe.

For my money those achievements are enough to mark out McDowell as the outstanding UK sports personality of 2010 - OK, I admit I am biased - but are they enough to make the US Open champion Europe's Golfer of the Year?

It is an extraordinarily tough call but one that might become a little easier if either of the two finishes the season in style in Dubai.

Kaymer won his first major with victory at the USPGA Championship in August but has called this the biggest week of his career as winning the Race to Dubai was his stated ambition at the start of the year.

Only McDowell can deny him the title. The Northern Ireland man is 290, 911 Euros behind heading into this big-money event and needs a top-three finish to have any chance of pipping his rival.

For that to happen, McDowell will need to sustain and improve on the form that gave him a third-placed finish in Singapore and fifth in Hong Kong in the last two weeks.

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Graeme McDowell seals dramatic Europe Ryder Cup win

Kaymer, on the other hand, took last week off and said he has never slept as well given the exhausting nature of his stellar season. He's raring to go and keen to finish the job over the coming days.

It was another massive boost for the European Tour when Kaymer confirmed he will not be taking up PGA Tour membership next season. The implication is that his chosen tour is every bit as strong as its American counterpart.

Already the PGA Tour has felt the need to slightly alter its eligibility rules for players leaving them, which means Westwood will be able to play the US events that he wants to compete in next year.

The world number one will be allowed to accept three tournament invitations on top of the four majors, three World Golf Championships and the Players' Championship. Until this tweak Westwood was facing a choice between having to miss either the Players or defending the title he won in Memphis this year.

The change in rules shows how the PGA Tour is having to bend to the current power shift in the world game and benefits Rory McIlroy, who is not renewing his membership Stateside.

There are no such restrictions on Kaymer because he has never been a PGA Tour member, so isn't liable to the rules put in place to deter players from turning their backs on membership as McIlroy is doing next year.

All of which is fine news for the European Tour as it readies itself to unveil its 2011 calendar. There are plenty of issues to be resolved with sponsorship of the Irish Open again high on the agenda. There's also the likelihood of the Scottish Open heading north to Castle Stuart and a later end to the season with the Dubai World Championship switching to a December date.

That, though, is for next year. There's still plenty to be decided in 2010, which should provide for a fascinating finale before what is sure to be a lengthy lunch to decide the Europe's player of the year.


  • Comment number 1.

    Whoever does come out on top between Kaymer and McDowell on Sunday, European Tour Golf will be the real winner. All key performers have indicated their commitment to the Tour for next year.

  • Comment number 2.

    I think 606'ers should have been invited to your feast, there'd've been some strident views expressed I can tell you.
    Iain, the fact, surely, is that McIlroy and Westwood are only limited to two fewer events than Kaymer, and why lw would have had to choose between Memphis and TPC only he knows? (Presumably dictated by other invites he wishes to accept.)
    What is even more difficult to understand is why lw is constrained in the first place; there's certainly never been a satisfactory explanation in the press, and lw's thought seemed to be they (PGA Tour) had misapplied the rule earlier.
    It all sounds very arcane but the fact of the matter is that such nuances are very important as European Tour players make their decisions for 2012.
    Pity POTY can't be shared. Now you may enjoy your port. Cheers.

  • Comment number 3.

    Does the winner have to be a European each year? or is it down to Euro tour members?? Obviously, its down to McD and Kaymer this year. I wouldn't agree though with counting Ryder Cup performance toward POTY. And it you must, both players contributed 2.5 points, so that's surely level?!!

  • Comment number 4.

    So, the answer for RM and lw seems to be they'll play Honda, Houston and Charlotte / Houston where they defend; threatened ET monopolisation of the Kapalua first tee seems to be fizzling.
    But Nick Price is reported to be resuming PGA Tour membership so that's alright then.

  • Comment number 5.

    Mmmh, cushy life Ian? What is the hardest bit of the job?

    I'd not complain about the debate, indeed often a discussion about who is the most worthy would mean that there are a few 'good' candidates rather than one or two outstanding ones. This year we are lucky that it is a few outstanding candidates.

    i'm still sad that LW wasn't considered more. He may well have been the recipient last year but in amongst time off for injury he has achieved that world number 1 spot.

    Amongst all this talk of No.1 spot vs Majors, the journos definitely seem to rate a single peak achievement over consistent excellence. Ok so McD and Kaymer are multiple winners this year but talk of Kaymer winning more titles than McD is really picking low hanging fruit.

    Anyway, not disputing McD or Kaymer, just thought LW should have been in the conversation a bit more given that you are looking at achievements over a year rather than a week or a few weeks.

    McD for me btw.

  • Comment number 6.

    Mcd for me. Look at the players he fended off in the US Open e.g. woods , Els on the most difficult course.

    By the way Castle Stuart is simply a fantastic course, a must play.

  • Comment number 7.

    Both these players have had remarkable seasons and I hope that for years to come that the Euro tour have this headache of choosing a player of the year.

    As an Irishman I would love to see McD get it, but I have great admiration for Kaymer. Remember last year he was in pole position for R2D and Euro #1 spot but hurt his ankle in a go-karting accident. Great comeback this year.

    Also, McD for SPOTY.

  • Comment number 8.

    Why do people insist that the Race to Dubai (order of merit) is a straight shoot out between McDowell and Kaymer? With the winner receiving $1.5m (€1.12m) there is an unlikely scenario where F. Molinari can win. More likely us that Westwood will go quietly about his game while McDowell and Kaymer self destruct under the weight of expectation, thus handing the title to Westwood.

    For what my opinion/desire is worth, I hope that McDowell cleans up! R2D, SPOTY and Golfer of the Year. He, for me has been the face of golf for 2010 and appears to be a genuinely likeable character going about his day job. The others, results excluded, have been anonymous and/or monotonous. They are, as it stands, leader or the R2D and worlds number 1 golfer but I for one would be happier to see Graeme have his moment.

  • Comment number 9.

    Pure theatre. Lights, camera and action
    Let the game commence and simply may the best man win.

    Interested to see if the PGA Tour will take the European defection in its stride.

  • Comment number 10.

    It must be a great event for you, Iain, being invited to lunch with your colleagues! For a few years, I had the dubious joy of judging the winners of the local 'Bonnie Baby Competition'. At such an event, and with such amazing responsibilities, I soon realised that you can't win!
    So I just looked at all the bonnie babies before me, then shouted towards no-one in particular "First, second, third!" and ran!
    Unlike me, you can stay around and enjoy the whole meal. If questions are asked about your choice of winner for 2010, you can pass the buck, and say that the winner was not your personal choice!
    I would agree with others that Graeme has been a constant revelation during this season now nearly over. He has been a worthy winner, and who can forget his winning putt to round off and to seal that remarkable Ryder Cup win?
    By the way, it has been a joy reading your articles during 2010. After that lunch, may you and your writer-friends rest well. Then we can all look forward to 2011. May you and your colleagues have a great Christmas and Happy New Year!
    Brian Bain

  • Comment number 11.


  • Comment number 12.

    Sorry but this shouldn't even be a debate, Kaymer has proved himself over the season to the the number 1 in Europe, so there's your answer. I can see why it would be debated if say Kaymer hadn't got a major but he has, in fact he has a superior record over the season:
    Wins 4 (including 3 in a row!)
    Majors 1
    Race to Dubai 1st
    Ryder Cup Pts 2.5
    Wins 3
    Majors 1
    Race to Dubai 2nd
    Ryder Cup Pts 2.5
    I think bias is making this more than it should be. Kaymer's victory in the Race to Dubai was comfortable in the end, so there is no question, Kaymer is the Golfer of the Year. If it goes to McDowell then it will make it a joke.
    Iain, you know who you should vote for ;)

  • Comment number 13.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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