Skip to main content

After Further Review: Is it better to trail than lead?

Getty Images

Each week, takes a look back at the week in golf. In this edition of After Further Review, our writers weigh in on Martin Kaymer's collapse in Abu Dhabi and a PGA Tour suspension for performance enhancing drugs.

I was chatting with a PGA Tour winner not that long ago when the subject of Sunday leads came up.

"I'd rather trail by 1," he told me, "than lead by 2 going into the final round."

That very notion flies in the face of everything our competitive desire tells us. We should always want to be winning, because winning is better than losing, right? A lead offers more of a chance to win than a deficit, doesn't it?

Martin Kaymer wasn't up by 2 strokes. He led by 10 – with only 14 holes left to play. And he didn't win. Cue the ol' "marathon not a sprint" adage.

It was an unpredictable, unlikely and uncharacteristic collapse for a player who won last year's U.S. Open in runaway fashion. But there's probably a cautionary tale amongst the heartache.

Not that Kaymer would have wished for a smaller lead or even a deficit, but his defeat proves once again that leading on Sunday often isn't the best route to victory. – Jason Sobel

For eight years the PGA Tour has told anyone that would listen that the circuit has no performance-enhancing drug problem and extensive testing since 2008 would seem to back up that claim. But this week the Tour announced Bhavik Patel had been suspended for violating the policy because, “In an effort to overcome an injury, I made a lapse of judgment,” the Tour player said in a statement.

While Patel is not the first player caught violating the policy, he does seem to be the first to do so while seeking a competitive advantage. But even that remains uncertain because the Tour’s policy is to not announce what substances prompt suspensions. So, once again we’re just supposed to take the Tour’s word for it. – Rex Hoggard

It’s a good thing Martin Kaymer isn’t a Green Bay Packers fan. At least, we don’t think he is. The dizzying losses wouldn’t be fair to endure on the same day. Still, they’re kindred spirits. Sunday’s collapses bound them in the stunning fashion in which they occurred. Kaymer, a proven champion, couldn’t close the deal in Abu Dhabi, blowing a 10-shot lead in the final round.

The Packers, rolling in Seattle, couldn’t close out a 19-7 lead in the NFC Championship with less than three minutes left. Kaymer’s loss was unexpected because he has been such a dependable closer in his career. Going into Sunday, he had closed four consecutive 54-hole leads winning trophies around the world, according to He had closed seven of his last nine 54-hole leads. The beauty for Kaymer is this wasn’t a major. He’ll have another 20 or more starts this year to get the losing taste out of his mouth.

Jimmy Walker showed us at the Sony Open Sunday just how quickly a remedy can be found as he rebounded from his loss at Kapalua in less than seven days. The Packers? They’ve got another seven months or so to stew on their loss before the new season begins. – Randall Mell