- Andalucia Valderrama Masters, Round One
Kaymer's troubles take Westwood closer to No. 1 spot
Martin Kaymer's difficulties on the first day of action at the Andalucia Valderrama Masters have taken Lee Westwood closer to becoming world No. 1 next week.
Kaymer needs a top-two finish to dethrone Tiger Woods - any other result will see Westwood take top spot - but he faces an uphill struggle to reach that target.
The German, who has won his last three tournaments, looked to be weighed down by pressure as he spluttered to an underwhelming total of one-over that leaves him six shots off leader Pablo Larrazabal.
The day started serenely enough for Kaymer - he reached the turn at level-par - before things started to go awry on the back nine. Three consecutive bogeys between holes 11 and 13 dealt him a severe blow, but he steadied the ship with a birdie at 16.
As well as his rankings battle, Kaymer is locked in a tussle with his closest pursuer in the Race to Dubai standings, US Open winner Graeme McDowell. On a course that has brought him success in the past - two top-ten finishes - the Ulsterman put together a steady three-under 68 that puts him on track to scythe into Kaymer's lead in the money list.
"I figured I might be seeing a bit of Martin this next three or four weeks," McDowell said. "He's the guy I'm trying to catch in the Race to Dubai, he's been unbeatable in the last three months. It's great for European golf to have guys like him around winning golf tournaments."
Ryder Cup star Francesco Molinari, currently 11th in the Race to Dubai, could be set to propel himself up the standings - the Italian completed at one-under, with a double bogey at 15 the only significant blemish on his scorecard.
There was more misery for brother Edoardo, however, as his dismal run continued. The 29-year-old has seen his debut season on the European Tour peter out alarmingly in recent weeks - he finished ten-over at the Alfred Dunhill Championships - and a five-over 76 will do nothing to stop the rot.
Elsewhere, Ross Fisher surrendered a promising position with a double bogey at the last - he finished on level-par - while Miguel Angel Jimenez fared one shot better.