Not this time.
Despite ballooning his lead to 10 shots at one point in the final round, Kaymer dropped six shots in an eight-hole stretch Sunday and watched his massive lead evaporate.
Kaymer’s closing 75 – the worst round of the day, by anyone – left him two shots behind unheralded Frenchman Gary Stal, the 374th-ranked player in the world, who fired a bogey-free 65 on the final day to steal the title. It was the 22-year-old's first career European Tour win.
Kaymer finished alone in third at 17-under 271, one shot behind Rory McIlroy, who shot 66.
“A little shocked,” Kaymer said afterward. “Obviously, I didn’t play as good as the other days, but I didn’t make many mistakes; a couple of bad shots cost me. It’s difficult right after the round to say how I feel. It was definitely a very interesting day and one I need to reflect on.”
It was a stunning collapse from a two-time major champion who made holding a lead look so easy a year ago. Sure, he let a comfortable lead disappear at The Players, but he showed resolve on the final two holes to stay in front. At the U.S. Open, he led in wire-to-wire fashion, rolling to an eight-shot victory.
So much for title No. 4 at Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Staked to a six-shot lead after 54 holes, Kaymer started hot with three birdies in his first four holes Sunday to build a 10-shot cushion, but he suddenly lost his form. He made a bogey on 6. He made a double on 9. He made a triple on 13. Couple that with Stal’s red-hot play – he made six birdies in an eight-hole stretch around the turn – and Kaymer couldn't muster the rally he needed.
Needing an eagle on the last to force a playoff, Kaymer had to lay up after finding a fairway bunker off the tee, then hit a pedestrian wedge shot to set up a two-putt par. He was the only player inside the top 20 to record an over-par score in the final round.
After playing his first 58 holes in 23 under par, Kaymer went 6 over for his final 14.
It was the second consecutive week that a major champion squandered a big lead on the European Tour. Last week in South Africa, Charl Schwartzel frittered away a four-shot lead with four to play.
Kaymer has yet to win since his U.S. Open victory, and this was just his fourth top 10 overall since Pinehurst (16 events).