Ireland go head-to-head with Germany in 'final'
A 'final' befitting a World Cup will be played out in Hainan today as world number two Rory McIlroy and world number four Martin Kaymer go head to head for glory.
Joining them in the race for the US$2.4 million first prize is world number 10 Matt Kuchar and world number 13 Charl Schwartzel in a perfectly scripted showdown on the Blackstone lava-rock course at Mission Hills.
McIlroy and partner Graeme McDowell, representing Ireland, will start with a valuable two-shot lead in the final pairing over Germany's Kaymer and Alex Cejka.
In front of them will be two formidable combinations - South Africa's Schwartzel and Louis Oosthuizen and the United States' Kuchar and Gary Woodland, also at 19 under and two shots behind Ireland. 'We are right where want to be,' McDowell said after their eight-under 64 in yesterday's fourballs (better ball), which was bettered only by Germany (61), South Africa (61) and the US (63).
'The legends of the game have won this trophy - the likes of Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Ben Hogan and Sam Snead - and to go out there with one of your best friends and experience the highs and lows of the game - hopefully the high is [today] - coming down the back nine, sharing the experience with someone - there's no substitute for that.
'Golf is an individual sport so tomorrow's going to be a great battle.'
The big movers yesterday were Germany and South Africa, with Kaymer (pictured) saying consistency would be key in today's foursomes (alternate shot). 'Everyone knows Rory and Graeme are world-class players but we are not too bad either,' Kaymer said. 'It will be an interesting finish.'
Cejka may have a world ranking in the 300s because he has been troubled by injury, but Kaymer praised his compatriot for his consistency and said he was 'more than happy to have Alex by his side'.
South Africa burst into life after both Schwartzel and Oosthuizen struggled with their putting on the first two days. 'We suddenly felt we were back to our normal selves,' Schwartzel said after the putts began to drop. 'Now we have a good chance, and it's always an honour to be playing for your country.'
China (Liang Wenchong and Zhang Xinjun) failed to build on their good showing the previous day and could only manage a four-under 68 to be nine shots adrift.