McIlroy second again as Kaymer collapses
 Gary Stal with the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Picture © Getty Images

Gary Stal with the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Picture © Getty Images

Perhaps Rory McIlroy was hoping to take Martin Kaymer's eye off the ball when he said he was playing for second in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. Whatever his feelings about his chances of overcoming an eight-shot deficit with resepct to the German, who was going for his fourth win in the event, his fourth runner up finish in Abu Dhabi in five years, not to mention his impressive form from tee to green, confirmed that he's going to be the man to beat once more in 2015.

McIlroy beat Martin Kaymer by nine shots on Sunday, carding a 66 to the German's 75 to finish just a shot behind Challenge Tour graduate Gary Stal of France, who shot a 65 to edge out the world No 1 by one on 19 under par.

Kaymer held a 10 stroke lead over McIlroy when he birdied the first, second and fourth holes but a bogey at the sixth, a double bogey at the ninth and a triple bogey seven at the 13th threw the title race wide open.

In the end, McIlroy shaved the hole when attempting to hole a bunker shot for an eagle at the 18th that might have been enough for a playoff. He tapped in for birdie but Stal held firm joined the list of new French stars who will be pushing to make the Ryder Cup breakthrough for the 2018 staging in Paris.

As for Kaymer was shellshocked that his mistakes had been so costly.

“I’m surprised and a little shocked," he said. "I don't really know how to put it into words. It was very, very surprising today. I started off well but then hit a couple bad tee shots and it cost me a double bogey and a triple bogey.

"I do miss fairways, but usually you get away with it okay, you don't make double or triple bogey. But that is what happened today. Another thing was I didn't make many putts. I missed a lot of putts and therefore it was very difficult for me to make birdies.

“The positive is I was playing really good golf after the winter break but it’s tough to say that after that round. I certainly was shocked.”

Stal, 22, who moves to third in The Race to Dubai as the result of his maiden win, said: "“It was a crazy day but obviously I’m very happy to win this tournament. It's unbelievable to win, because when I saw the leaderboard on the fifth hole, I saw Martin Kaymer on 24 under par and I thought to myself then it's not possible to win. 

"But when I saw my name on the leaderboard on the 16th green, I saw everything had changed, and then it was possible.

“For the four days, my attitude stayed the same. I told myself at the beginning of the tournament that I wouldn't get upset, and it paid off. Because I thought if I could putt well, if I could play shot by shot, it would pay dividends. Therefore, I just kept playing the same way, with the same attitude. But it's an incredible feeling.”

McIlroy, who missed just one green in each of the last two rounds, has a week off to prepare for the Dubai Desert Classic and work on his putting.

“Going out today, my goal today was to finish second," said McIlroy, who was 12th for driving acciuracy (66.1%), first for greens hit in regulation (88.9%),  21st for putts per GIR and 50th for putts per round.

"I didn't think I was going to get close to winning the golf tournament. I think Martin was ten ahead at one point. You think from there, there's only one winner, but just shows you, funny things can happen in this game. If you just sort of plug away and stay patient, your time will come I guess.  But it was just a little too late for me today.

“I'll stay here, stay out in the Middle East and practice and get my game in shape for Dubai. It feels very good.  I feel like it's been a great week because I feel like there's a couple of things to work on and hopefully that will make me perform even better in a couple weeks' time.”

Damien McGrane closed with a 72 to share 55th place on five under par and earn euro 7,748.

Final scores

269 G Stal  (Fra) 68 69 67 65,

270 R McIlroy  (Nir) 67 66 71 66,

271 M Kaymer (Ger) 64 67 65 75,

272 T Pieters  (Bel) 65 67 70 70, V Dubuisson  (Fra) 69 72 64 67,

274 T Hatton (Eng) 66 71 70 67, B Wiesberger  (Aut) 72 65 66 71, J Morrison  (Eng) 68 67 72 67,

275 J Donaldson (Wal) 73 67 65 70, C Schwartzel  (RSA) 71 68 65 71, R Fisher (Eng) 71 69 69 66,

276 S Webster (Eng) 73 67 67 69, J Rose (Eng) 73 69 69 65, A Cañizares  (Esp) 69 70 71 66, O Fisher  (Eng) 69 70 70 67, E Els (RSA) 70 72 69 65, A Wall (Eng) 70 71 66 69, B An (Kor) 67 75 65 69, M Madsen (Den) 68 69 69 70,

277 D Van Der Walt (RSA) 70 70 65 72, B Grace  (RSA) 66 74 67 70, M Jiménez (Esp) 72 67 67 71, A Levy (Fra) 66 70 67 74, P Lawrie (Sco) 68 73 67 69, N Fasth (Swe) 69 70 68 70,

278 R Green (Aus) 68 68 71 71, A Hansen (Den) 68 73 68 69, M Kieffer (Ger) 70 71 68 69, E Pepperell (Eng) 70 68 68 72, N Colsaerts  (Bel) 68 71 72 67,

279 Y Yang (Kor) 70 70 69 70, P Uihlein  (USA) 67 68 70 74, R Jacquelin (Fra) 69 71 69 70, S Hend (Aus) 70 70 70 69, M Lorenzo-Vera  (Fra) 69 69 71 70, M Fraser (Aus) 72 68 67 72,

280 J Garcia Pinto (Esp) 70 71 70 69, G Bourdy (Fra) 66 74 66 74, R Rock (Eng) 69 73 70 68, O Wilson (Eng) 71 71 66 72, R Sterne  (RSA) 71 70 70 69, G Coetzee (RSA) 68 73 68 71, E Grillo (Arg) 70 70 68 72, A Noren  (Swe) 67 75 68 70,

281 K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 72 67 72 70, R Karlsson (Swe) 67 71 69 74, S Hansen (Den) 69 69 70 73, A Johnston (Eng) 73 68 70 70, K Broberg (Swe) 69 71 70 71,

282 M Ilonen  (Fin) 66 75 68 73, S Benson (Eng) 69 73 67 73, T Olesen (Den) 72 69 73 68, A Lahiri (Ind) 72 68 72 70, B Dredge (Wal) 72 70 70 70,

283 D McGrane (Irl) 71 69 71 72, R Bland (Eng) 69 73 72 69,

284 M Nixon (Eng) 68 71 74 71, D Willett  (Eng) 70 71 71 72, A Sullivan (Eng) 71 71 67 75, O Farr (Wal) 73 69 72 70, R Paratore (Ita) 70 69 73 72, C Lee (Sco) 73 68 70 73,

285 J Campillo (Esp) 72 70 77 66, J Carlsson (Swe) 70 72 71 72, J Singh (Ind) 68 73 71 73,

286 S Khan (Eng) 73 67 72 74, R Fowler  (USA) 67 75 73 71, D Drysdale (Sco) 70 71 74 71,

288 J Kruger (RSA) 74 68 72 74, 

289 D Fichardt (RSA) 69 73 77 70, G Tian-Lang (Chn) 70 69 78 72,

290 J Palmer (Eng) 71 71 76 72.