Neighbours Paul Casey and Martin Kaymer enjoy a healthy rivalry, with Casey admitting he would love to get a third Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship title – if only to shut three-time winner Kaymer up.
Casey and Kaymer held a duopoly over the famous falcon trophy during the early years of the tournament – the duo were the only winners between 2007-2011.
Englishman Casey won in 2007 and 2009, with German Kaymer claiming his maiden triumph in 2008, before adding back to back titles in 2010 and 2011.
And even though the pair hail from different countries, both have houses in Scottsdale, Arizona. And Casey admits Kaymer won’t let him forget he holds the Abu Dhabi advantage at 3-2.
“I know this course well. I think that’s the thing. I know how to get around it. I know where I struggle around this golf course. I know where I can capitalise with the strengths of my game,” said Casey, 40, when asked about the advantages of playing a course you’ve been successful on previously, following his stunning 65 on Friday which yielded a round of -7 under to move him into a share of sixth.
— Nick Dougherty (@NickDougherty5) January 19, 2018
“I’ve got a good fan base here, there’s lots of positives. Every hole it seems like I’ve got good memories of, so it really is drawing from some of those past experiences.”
Casey, marking his return not only to Abu Dhabi but the European Tour after three years away playing exclusively on the PGA Tour, added: “But I think the biggest motivation which you did mention, is the fact that Kaymer has got three and I’ve only got two.
“The German, I see him obviously in Arizona because he spends a lot of time out there, and he doesn’t let me forget it. So I would love to equal that record this week.”
Kaymer has two majors to his name but has struggled in recent seasons and slipped down the rankings to number 75 in the world.
But he spent a lot of time over the festive period alone in America practicing in order to get his game and mind sharp for what he hopes will be a rejuvenated 2018.
And like world number 14 Casey, he feels memories of success on a course can really give players an advantage.
Iron to inches 📏
— The European Tour (@EuropeanTour) January 19, 2018
“It’s always nice when you come back to a golf course where you have done well, but also it’s the very first tournament of the year, so it always gave me good motivation,” said the 33-year- old, who posted a -4 under par 68 round two to move onto -7 under overall, two shots behind his Scottsdale neighbour Casey, and five shots off the lead.
“I remember Paul when he won here in 2009, I won in 2008 and 2010, and he won in I think 2007 and 2009.
“So we had five years of victories. For both of us, we always drove it very well on the course and, once you do that, you always have a good chance to do well here. I think it was really the key for me the last few years.”
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