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England's Robert Rock held off challenges from Tiger Woods of the USA and Northern Ireland's Rory McIlroy to win the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club.
Rock began the final round tied for the lead with Woods, but it was the Englishman who came out on top after 72 holes. Woods made a move early on with birdies at the 2nd and 3rd holes but Rock kept pace and, when Tiger dropped shots at the 4th and 5th, Rock had a lead of two.
The Englishman looked calm and composed in the lead and he maintained it to the finish, despite a host of top players breathing down his neck.
Coming to the last, Rock still maintained a two-shot advantage over Rory McIlroy who had posted a closing 69 to finish on 12-under-par for the tournament. It looked to be a done deal until Rock fired his tee shot into the hazard right of the fairway.
But, showing great maturity, Rock elected to take a penalty drop from the scrub, laid up short of the green and pitched on for four. That left him two putts to take the title. He rolled the first up stone dead and was able to tap-in for victory.
"I really can't believe I've done that today," he said. "I was very happy just to be playing with Tiger."
Woods couldn't find the form he'd shown over the first three days and, in the end, he did well to scramble to a closing 72 and to secure a share of third spot.
"I was just a touch off," he said. "But Robert played great, making a couple of key up-and-downs." Graeme McDowell had a superb back nine to climb into a share of third. The Northern Irishman scored an ace at the short 12th then, on the home hole, he found a fairway bunker in two and thinned his third through the green. But his ball rebounded off the grandstand and came back to settle six feet from the cup. He duly knocked in the putt.
"Just a regulation birdie four," said GMac.
By finishing alone in second McIlroy should move back ahead of Lee Westwood to second place on the Official World Golf Ranking.
Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Abu Dhabi, UAE Jan 26-29, purse €2,076,000, par 72
1 Robert Rock (Eng) 69 70 66 70 275 €347,024 2 Rory McIlroy (NIR) 67 72 68 69 276 €231,349 T3 Thomas Bjorn (Den) 73 71 65 68 277 €107,577 T3 Graeme McDowell (NIR) 72 69 68 68 277 €107,577 T3 Tiger Woods (USA) 70 69 66 72 277 €107,577 T6 George Coetzee (RSA) 71 72 65 70 278 €67,670 T6 Matteo Manassero (Ita) 73 65 71 69 278 €67,670 T8 Keith Horne (RSA) 71 71 68 69 279 €44,662 T8 Paul Lawrie (Sco) 70 69 68 72 279 €44,662 T8 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 74 67 66 72 279 €44,662 T8 Thorbjorn Oleson (Den) 70 67 71 71 279 €44,662
Note: Player score in bold signifies Titleist ball usage
Where next? PGA Tour - Brandt Snedeker wins Farmers Insurance Open
Fergus is a golf obsessive and 1-handicapper. Growing up in the North East of Scotland, golf runs through his veins and it was concentrated by his time at St Andrews university studying history. He went on to earn a post graduate diploma from the London School of Journalism. Fergus has worked for Golf Monthly since 2004 and has written two books on the game; "Great Golf Debates" together with Jezz Ellwood of Golf Monthly and "The Ultimate Golf Book" together with Neil Tappin (also of Golf Monthly)... Fergus once shanked a ball from just over Granny Clark's Wynd on the 18th of the Old Course that struck the St Andrews Golf Club and rebounded into the Valley of Sin, from where he saved par. Who says there's no golfing god?
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