Perfect Practice

There are plenty of theories, most of them proposed in jest, among the tour players as to why Kaymer has been so dominant at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club. Spain’s Pablo Martin, with tongue firmly in cheek, tested a few of those suggesting the German has no fun during the winter holiday.

“Everyone just competes for second place because Martin must not have any Christmas; he just practices. That’s why he wins by 25 shots. Everyone else is at home drinking and eating,” kids the two-time winner of South Africa’s Alfred Dunhill Championship, ignoring the fact that for that theory to stand up Kaymer would also have to fastidiously ignore his birthday, which falls three days later.

In joking around, Pablo inadvertently comes up with an explanation that even Kaymer doesn’t seem to have considered that much. As well as Kaymer, England’s Paul Casey has a ridiculous record in Abu Dhabi, winning in 2007 and 2009. Yes, both are long, straight hitters who can putt, but both share the same winter home, too.

“Paul and Martin both live in Arizona; either there is something in the water in Arizona or it doesn’t feel like Christmas in Arizona because it’s too hot.” Pablo Martin adds.

“I really should get myself to Arizona next Christmas.” he laughs.

He should. Specifically, if Pablo wants to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, he should probably get himself to the Whisper Rock Golf Club, because the more Kaymer thinks about it, the more he realises the weeks he spends preparing for the season at his winter home is the perfect preparation for the tournament.

“It has nothing to with the water. Paul and I, when we practice in Arizona, we have very similar conditions and facilities [to the course in Abu Dhabi]. It’s a very similar golf course that we play in Scottsdale,” says Kaymer of the course, which is reported to have over 30 Tour professionals as members, including the designer Phil Mickelson, Fred Couples, Geoff Ogilvy and Aaron Baddely.

Among the winners of the annual club championship there are PGA Tour regulars Kevin Streelman (a former Whisper Rock caddie), Todd Demsey, Chez Reavie and Billy Mayfair, which instantly tells you the course is set up as close to tournament standards as you can get week-in and week-out.

The similarities are endless. The Upper Course at Whisper Rock even has exactly the same yardage from the back tees as the Abu Dhabi Golf Club will have for the 2012 tournament: 7,600 yards. Right down to the desert air, Kaymer couldn’t have picked a better place to practice.

“That’s what Arizona is about; it’s got a lot of desert. It has very similar bunkers and the sand in the bunkers is very similar. The greens are a little grainy, but not too much. Everything is very similar. The ball goes a similar distance. The weather is very similar; it’s 20 to 25 degrees [Celsius] when we practice there and when we go to Abu Dhabi it’s the same. So there’s no adjustment necessary when we come from the break,” Kaymer explains.

In a nutshell, in spending his winter preparing to challenge the world’s best for the next season, Kaymer is inadvertently yet very specifically preparing to excel in Abu Dhabi in the first week of his season.