Cool customer Martin Kaymer off to flyer in battle to become Europe's No 1

Graeme McDowell admitted he was "left in the dust literally" when his desert duel with Ryder Cup team-mate Martin Kaymer began yesterday.1

Needing a top-three finish in the Dubai World Championship to have any chance of grabbing the European Tour's No 1 crown away from the German, McDowell is down in joint 25th spot after a level-par 72.

That was five strokes worse than Kaymer, who lies third two shots behind Swede Robert Karlsson as he kept alive the possibility of not only winning the money list, but also earning a staggering 1.7million on Sunday - and taking the world No 1 spot from Lee Westwood. The two Order of Merit contenders were playing partners, but Kaymer reckons they exchanged "maybe two or three sentences" during the four hours they spent together. And one of them was a simple "well done" from the Northern Irishman after Kaymer had followed a birdie on the long second with an eagle-2 at the 452-yard next.

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The USPGA champion sank a 192-yard 7-iron for that and stated: "I think the last time I holed out from the fairway was on the Challenge Tour. "I never got that lucky, but it's the right week - the most important of my career so far - to get lucky."

McDowell, the US Open champion, had already noticed a "definite stand-off" between the pair when they were pictured together on Tuesday, but Kaymer did add about the lack of chat: "It just happened. We get along well, don't get me wrong. But I just wanted to focus on my game and he wanted to do the same."

McDowell, who has been suffering from a head cold all week, will tee off nearly two-and-a-half hours earlier in the second round and is nowhere near throwing in the towel yet.

"It frustrated me a little bit playing with him because he was playing so well," he said. "He kind of left me in the dust literally out there, so it's great to get away from him and the distraction tomorrow. In the morning there will be a little less grain on the greens and they will be a little less scuffed up. It should be a good chance to make some putts. He's a pretty emotionless guy and would be a helluva poker player. He's a cool customer - there were no signs of any nerves and I was very impressed."

Asked about his own health he commented: "No room for excuses. I have to come out and feel 100 per cent and ready to go. "I'm here to do a job and I certainly haven't shot myself in the foot just yet. He's five ahead of me, that's all."

Kaymer insists he does not have room in his head to think about the world No 1 situation.

A top-two finish, but more likely a win, could take him ahead of Westwood, whose defence of the tournament started with a three-under 69 for a share of fifth place.Karlsson was Europe's No 1 two years ago, but then suffered a retina problem and, after taking a three-month break, did not even make the 60-strong field for this season-ending event.

This, therefore, is his debut and he very nearly broke Westwood's course record. After an eagle at the long 14th, where he sank a 114-yard pitch, and birdies at the 16th and 17th he was eight under and needed a four on the 620-yard last for a 63. Instead he drove poorly up against a tree, ran up a bogey-6 and so saw his lead over Korean teenager Noh Seung-yul shrink to one.

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Charl Schwartzel's three-under 69 included a hole-in-one at the 186-yard sixth, where the South African's 7-iron tee shot landed five feet short before trickling into the cup.

The two Scots in the field, Richie Ramsay and Stephen Gallacher, both carded 73s, the latter covering his last ten holes in one-under after a shaky start. Not surprising, perhaps, following the death of his grandad, Barney, earlier in the week.