GOLF'S newest major champion Martin Kaymer has become the first player to win three times in a row on the European Tour since Tiger Woods four years ago.
In bitterly cold and windy conditions at St Andrews, the 25-year-old German added the Dunhill Links title to the US PGA Championship he took in a play-off in August and the KLM Open he ran away with in Holland last month.
But Lee Westwood could not make it a day of double celebration for Europe's Ryder Cup heroes. He needed a top-two finish to replace Woods as world number one, but struggling with a leg injury, he fell back from fifth to 11th with a 73.
However, the 37-year-old is pulling out of this coming week's Portugal Masters and that makes it certain he will topple Woods at the end of this month.
Hartlepool's Graeme Storm ended the day with a 74 to finish some way down the field while Kenneth Ferrie from Ashington failed to make the final day's play despite recording 72 on Saturday.
For Kaymer though, now up to world number four and more than Â£860,000 clear of Graeme McDowell at the top of the European money list, yesterday's win completed a dream week.
Six days after achieving another victory on his cup debut at Celtic Manor, he produced a superb six under par 66 to beat English pair Danny Willett and John Parry, Walker Cup team-mates three years ago, by three and four shots respectively.
Vicar's son Willett threatened to spring an upset when he sank a 50-foot eagle putt from off the green at the long 14th to go into the joint lead.
But Kaymer wasted no time putting the 23-year-old from Yorkshire in his place. He followed him in from 25 feet for birdie, then made his own outrageous 40-footer from left of the 17th green.
And although his final drive finished on Granny Clark's Wynd, the road crossing the fairway, he hit his second off the tarmac to six feet and made it for yet another birdie.
Kaymer took the Â£502,512 first prize with a 17 under par aggregate of 271. It was his fourth win of the season and the last person to do that in Europe was also Woods in 2006. "To make a four at the 17th feels like a birdie, so I don't know how I managed a three," he said. "I just tried to focus on the putt."
As for playing off the road he added: "I just tried to get it beyond the flag."
Although he described last Monday night's Ryder Cup celebrations as one of the best parties of his life it included karaoke, dancing and table tennis before he retired just before 3am Kaymer had no difficulty getting his focus back.
"I could feel the alcohol the next day, but I spoke to my dad on the phone and we talked about how I had to finish better than I did at The Open." Kaymer finished seventh on the Old Course then, but closed with three successive bogeys. This time it was a magical birdie-birdie conclusion.
"It was always one of my dreams to win here. I can still remember my first day here as an amateur, walking down the first hole and over the bridge it felt very special to me.
"If you would have given me a par on 17 I would have given you a lot of money that was more luck than skill."
As for three wins in a row he added: "I'm surprised as well. I don't really have answer for why I am playing so well."