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Defending champion Martin Kaymer admits this week’s Abu Dhabi Golf Championship will rekindle some special memories when he returns to the place where he sealed his maiden European Tour title 12 months ago.

The German led from the first day at Abu Dhabi Golf Club last year before sealing a superb four shot victory over Henrik Stenson and Lee Westwood, and he believes that victory spurred him on to the brink of Ryder Cup qualification in 2008.

Kaymer, who also won the BMW International in his homeland last June, eventually finished eighth in The European Tour Order of Merit and knows that another strong showing over The National Course this week could set up him for another impressive season.

Looking back on his wire-to-wire victory last year, the 24 year old said: “That was my first win on The European Tour, so that’s always very special. It was a big event, and I won the first tournament of the year so that gave me a lot of motivation for the rest of the season.

“The win over here was very important to me, especially early in my career. It showed that I could win a tournament.

“It was very special when I came to the golf club yesterday,” he added. “It was nice to walk down the 18th yesterday. It was a very special moment for me last year.

“I think the most important thing here last year was that you placed the ball in the fairway all the time, because the rough was quite thick. My driving was very, very good last year and I made a few putts, in the first three rounds - the fourth round was a little bit different.”

Kaymer, who started The Race to Dubai by finishing tied 20th in the HSBC Champions in November, will face world-class opposition in the form of World Number Two and Race to Dubai leader Sergio Garcia and current Major Champions Padraig Harrington and Trevor Immelman.

Another player to watch will be Ryder Cup star Paul Casey, who returns to Abu Dhabi having won the Falcon Trophy himself in 2007.

That was the 31 year old Englishman’s last European Tour title and Casey feels the Championship is a good opportunity for him to get his hands on some silverware again.

“I’m very much looking forward to 2009,” he said. “I feel like I have prepared well. I had some nice time off after the HSBC Champions, and then played Tiger's event and kind of used that to review aspects I needed to knuckle down hard on and worked very hard for the last two weeks before coming here.

“I feel good about the game and I’m looking forward to having a good 2009. I need to get back in the winner’s circle – it’s been a couple of years, actually, this event two years ago, so it’s a good place to do that.

“Arriving back here gives me a little bit more confidence, having won around this golf course,” he added. “I think it’s a golf course for me that fits my eye very well. It allows me to play to my strengths a little bit, use my length off the tee. The rough is certainly a lot thicker than when I won two years ago.

“You get good feelings when you arrive on certain tee shots. You remember shots that you’ve hit, and that’s a good thing, to remember the good shots, anyway, and I’ve had plenty of them around this golf course.”
 
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