Abu Dhabi: Triple Falcon Trophy winner and this year's odds-on tournament favourite Martin Kaymer shocked all yesterday by not only recording his worst ever Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship round score of five over par 77, but saying of his game: "If you putt like Stevie Wonder, you don't make birdies."
Starting off with a double-bogey on the first hole after being ruled five yards out of bounds, a decision he angrily protested, the German, whose average stroke rating here was, until yesterday, an astonishing 67.55 in 18 rounds of play, went on to bogey five, nine, 14 and 18, only birdying hole eight.
A visibly distraught Kaymer, 27, who won here in 2008, 2010 and 2011, and had shot his last 12 consecutive rounds under par and in the 60s, said: "I don't know why that was out of bounds, it's a bit of a ridiculous decision. It was never out of bounds before and it was only by some five yards. If I'd hit it further left I'd have been fine. I had a little argument with the referee at how ridiculous his decision was. It wasn't the perfect way to start the round.
"Some of the spectators even told me [Robert] Karlsson had gone further inside the stakes, so to find out mine was out of bounds and his not was a little stupid.
"To put it there [admittedly] it wasn't a good shot and I didn't make any putts. But, like I told my caddie, ‘if you putt like Stevie Wonder, you can't make birdies'.
"I cant change it anymore, I have to try to accept it. I thought I played fine golf the whole day long with a lot of good iron shots but, like I said, if you don't make putts, you cant score."
Kaymer, who became the youngest European Tour Race to Dubai winner in 2010, the year he also won the PGA Championship, added: "The golf course is definitely tougher than previous years, the rough is difficult, the fairways are narrower, but you can still shoot a good score. Five over is not necessary.
"I made like 33-34 putts and that's not like me, especially on this course. I've never played a score that bad here and now I need to shoot mid-60s tomorrow to get back in the tournament.
"When I came here I had high expectations because I've had so much success here and its always been such a great start to the season."
Leading scores at the par-72 National Course here yesterday in the first round of the European Tour's Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship:
67 - Robert Karlsson (SWE), Rory McIlroy (NIR)
68 - Gareth Maybin (NIR), Robert Finch (ENG), Jean-Baptiste Gonnet (FRA)
69 - Nicolas Colsaerts (BEL), Robert Rock (ENG), Richie Ramsay (SCO)
70 - Tiger Woods (USA), Michael Hoey (NIR), Jbe Kruger (RSA), Liang Wen-Chong (CHN), David Drysdale (SCO), Charl Schwartzel (RSA), Thorbjorn Olesen (NOR), Johan Edfors (SWE), Paul Lawrie (SCO), Anthony Wall (ENG), Jose Manuel Lara (ESP).