WGC-HSBC Champions: Martin Kaymer heads Ryder Cup challenge at Mission Hills in China
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 01/11/12 12:11am
Martin Kaymer will lead the European assault again as the Ryder Cup match-winner goes gunning for a successful defence of his WGC-HSBC Champions title at Mission Hills this week.
The German former world number one picked up his first World Golf Championship last year with his success in China, but his form had largely been mixed in 2012 before playing his part in that epic Ryder Cup in Chicago.
After sinking the putt that retained the Ryder Cup for Jose Maria Olazabal's European side, Kaymer is hoping to build on that by defending his title on the aptly-chosen Olazabal course at the vast Mission Hills resort.
"Last year was very nice," said Kaymer. "I won in Abu Dhabi earlier in the year, which is another HSBC sponsored event, but then I was a bit flat after that and just waiting for the win, even though I was playing well enough.
"I had a great back nine on the Sunday - only 29 shots - so I have nice memories. Obviously it is a different golf course but the way I play I think I should have a chance.
"That was something special, to win the tournament in that style when you are five back going into the last round and end up winning by three shots.
"It was quite impressive and when things aren't going your way, like at the moment when it tests your mental strength, it's nice to remind yourself of those moments."
Nine of Kaymer's Ryder Cup team-mates line up at Misison Hills, along with Open champion Ernie Els, Masters champion Bubba Watson and two-time tournament winner Phil Mickelson.
World number five Justin Rose has been in great form of late and is looking for a second WGC title of the year after also playing a huge part in Medinah with an exhilarating win over Mickelson in the singles.
"It's the consistency that I've had that I've been most pleased with and every time I tee it up, I feel like my game is there or thereabouts, and that gives me confidence obviously coming into this week. I feel like that run can continue," said Rose.
"I feel like my game is in good enough shape that it's not a magical run I'm on; it's becoming more of the norm.
Europe's Ryder Cup heroes out for success in China
"Obviously everybody blows hot and cold and I'm in a nice warm run at the minute but I think my game is beginning to sort of turn up for me week in, week out."
Luke Donald, Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter are also in the field, with the new 'Mr Ryder Cup' Poulter looking for some solo success to go with his team exploits.
"On a personal level, I need to go out there and win a golf tournament. I feel that I've certainly played well enough this year; so you know, yes, I'm going to put some pressure on myself over the last five tournaments to make sure I get a victory," said Poulter.
"That Ryder Cup is going to be there for a long time. You know, people keep referring to it and we're only three weeks out and I think people are going to refer to it for a long time to come.
"So I'm going to keep dining out on that one for a while."