Kuala Lumpur – Former world No 1 Martin Kaymer kept a diplomatic silence Friday on whether Tiger Woods could regain the top ranking – but backed the “best player ever” to return to regular wins.
The German, who shot five-under-par 67 to stay in touch with the leaders in the Maybank Malaysian Open's round two, said it was just a matter of time before Woods was clocking up the victories again.
But he refused to be drawn on whether Woods, in the top 10 again after a scandal-tainted career nosedive, could fight his way back to the peak of the heavily congested rankings.
“We will see,” Kaymer said, praising Woods' victory at last month's Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, which broke a two-and-a-half-year win drought following revelations about his love life.
“The way he played in Florida when he won was amazing, fantastic. I think for him it's just a matter of time when he will compete well every week.
“Obviously he's the best player that ever played the game so it's just a matter of time that he will win plenty of tournaments again.”
Fourteen-time major-winner Woods, 36, tumbled out of the top 50 last year but has returned to as high as sixth. After a disappointing US Masters he now sits in eighth, one place behind Kaymer.
The top three of Luke Donald, Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood now constitute a formidable roadblock to both Woods and Kaymer, 27, who said it would take patience to return to the spot he held for eight weeks last year.
“I'm playing really well, it's just a matter of time when I'll win again,” Kaymer said. “It's just a matter of getting the results on the scorecard. I'm playing fine Ä it's just patience is sometimes the most difficult thing.
“If you see Luke Donald, Lee Westwood, Rory McIlroy, and you have Hunter Mahan (fifth) who's playing very well at the moment. I think the top 10, top 15, everyone is so close together. It's great competition each week.”
Kaymer carded six birdies against one bogey, on the par-four 13th, and missed an eagle chance on the par-five third as the 10-time European Tour winner seeks his first victory since November's WGC-HSBC Champions.
He said he was glad to tee-off in the morning as sweltering heat descended on par-72 Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club by lunchtime for the second day running.
“I prefer to play in the morning, especially when you have weather like this,” he said.
“Yesterday when I played in the afternoon, it was brutal at times especially if you're standing on one of those tee boxes and there's not a lot of wind going through. It can make a difference, but we know what we're getting into.”
The 2010 PGA Championship winner was seven-under for the tournament, two off provisional round two leaders Hennie Otto and Jbe Kruger, both of South Africa, who carded 64 and 65 respectively for nine-under-par totals.
Overnight leader Charl Schwartzel, the 2011 Masters champion, and playing partner Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 British Open winner who lost a dramatic play-off at Augusta on Sunday, were among the later starters. – Sapa-AFP