The European Tour stars are showing no signs of letting up as Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer clinched the two big tournaments last week.
McDowell won the Tiger Woods’ World Challenge at Sherwood Golf Club by three shots over Keegan Bradley, and Martin was solid on the final day of the $5 million (Dh18.36 million) Nedbank Challenge in Sun City to beat Charl Schwartzel by two shots.
It was a super way to end the season for both GMac and Martin, as they both struggled throughout the year by their own high standards. So to notch their first win of the year in their final tournament of 2012 will boost their confidence no end for the new year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see these two players coming out with all guns blazing.
I know GMac is planning to start his season in the US, but I am sure Martin would be out there in Abu Dhabi for the HSBC Championship. And given the way he played in Sun City, the three-time champion on the National course will surely be the man to beat despite the presence of world’s No 1, No 2 and No 4 Rory McIlroy, Tiger and Justin Rose, respectively, there.
The year is winding towards a finish, but the new season of the European Tour starts this week in South Africa.
Two events of the 2013 calendar are being played over the next two weeks: the Nelson Mandela Championship and the Alfred Dunhill Championship, before the Christmas and New Year break.
I have always felt the South African players are a bit lucky because they can play these first few events and bank some important euros as far as the Race to Dubai is concerned, and they are always better prepared for the Desert Swing when the Tour moves to Abu Dhabi, Qatar and Dubai. Of course, it also means a continuous schedule, which can be tough on the players and their families.
I played the Nippon Series JT Cup last week on the Japan Golf Tour, which is their tournament of champions. I am a past winner there and was hoping for a good finish in my last tournament of the year that counts towards the world ranking points, but I could finish only 17th. It was bitterly cold at Yomiuri Country Club and the first two days did not go my way, although I was happy with the way I played over the weekend.
I now have a few days off before representing Asia in the Royal Trophy against Europe. The tournament is being hosted in Brunei for the first time and that should make for a very interesting week. I have always loved the tournament and hopefully we can avenge our bitter loss from last year.
(Jeev Milkha Singh is a four-time winner on the European Tour).