Victor Perez endured nail-biting drama over the closing stretch of the Abu Dhabi Championship, before edging a one-shot win yesterday.
The 30-year-old Frenchman holed out his bunker shot on the par-3 17th hole in remarkable fashion to get to 19-under, before visiting the fairway bunker and making a bogey on the par-5 18th hole at Yas Links Abu Dhabi.
Perez finally closed with a six-under par 66 for an overall total of 18-under par 270.
Australia’s Min Woo Lee paid the price of a bogey on the 17th hole when he missed a par putt from less than five feet. He almost holed out his third shot for an eagle on the 18th which could have forced a play-off.
However, his ball rolled back towards the pin and stopped agonisingly close. The birdie saw him finish on 68 and in tied-second place alongside Sweden’s Sebastian Soderberg (67).
Ireland’s 51-year-old Padraig Harrington, who was trying to become the oldest winner on the European Tour, was in solo fourth place at 16-under par. He started his round with a bogey, but made seven birdies in his round after that.
The win was Perez’s third on the tour in 91 starts and moves him to the top of the European Tour rankings with 1,335 points. He is likely to climb to 60th place in the world, up from 117th.
“It feels fantastic,” said an emotional Perez.
“I thought you always need a bit of fortune and there’s always the deciding shots coming down the stretch that can make or break. To hole that bunker shot on 17 is probably going to be a highlight.
“I was just trying to fly the ball all the way to the hole and if it came up a bit heavy, it was probably going to release down to the hole and probably have an 8-footer for par. I was expecting Sebastian to hole his putt for birdie.
“In my head, I was going best case scenario, probably one ahead or tied going into the last hole, but I come up with a two-shot lead, which is always massive.
“The other person is going to have to do something great and you’re going to have to do something poor to lose a two-shot lead.
“I almost did, but thankfully, a six was enough.”
Italy’s Francesco Molinari (71) and Sweden’s Alex Noren (68) were tied for the fifth place at 14-under.
The European Tour next moves down the road to Dubai for the Dubai Desert Classic, a second Rolex Series event in successive weeks. World number one Rory McIlroy is scheduled to play the tournament at Emirates Golf Club.
Leading final round scores
(GBR & IRL unless stated/par 72):
270 - Victor Perez (FRA) 71-65-68-66
271 - Min Woo Lee (AUS) 68-69-66-68, Sebastian Soederberg (SWE) 67-71-66-67
272 - Padraig Harrington 68-73-64-67
274 - Francesco Molinari (ITA) 67-67-69-71, Alexander Noren (SWE) 72-66-68-68
275 - Tyrrell Hatton 72-67-71-65, Shubhankar Sharma (IND) 67-70-69-69, Jason Scrivener (AUS) 65-70-72-68
276 - Adrian Meronk (POL) 70-67-68-71, Nicolai Hoejgaard (DEN) 71-67-69-69, Rafael Cabrera (ESP) 69-69-71-67, Richard Bland 71-69-66-70, Sami Valimaki (FIN) 67-75-72-62, Dale Whitnell 68-72-70-66, Grant Forrest 71-68-65-72
277 - Edoardo Molinari (ITA) 67-72-68-70, Jeff Winther (DEN) 73-68-66-70, Andy Sullivan 72-69-67-69
278 - Henrik Stenson (SWE) 68-74-70-66, Pablo Larrazabal (ESP) 70-69-68-71
279 - Shane Lowry 67-70-66-76
281 - Tommy Fleetwood 68-73-72-68
284 - Lee Westwood 69-73-69-73, Thomas Bjorn (DEN) 69-72-73-70
285 - Ian Poulter 71-70-72-72
France’s Perez holds on to claim Abu Dhabi title
Victor Perez endured nail-biting drama over the closing stretch of the Abu Dhabi Championship, before edging a one-shot win yesterday. The 30-year-old Frenchman holed out his bunker shot on the par-3 17th hole in remarkable fashion to get to 19-under, before visiting the fairway bunker and making a bogey on the par-5 18th hole at Yas Links Abu Dhabi.
Victor Perez of France poses with his trophy after he won the final round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at Yas Links Golf Course in the United Arab Emirates’ capital Abu Dhabi yesterday. (AFP)