On the final day of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship (opens in new tab), fans were treated to an intriguing conclusion which involved a number of players in touching distance of a Rolex Series (opens in new tab) title.
Throughout the back nine, Frenchman, Victor Perez, had led by the slimmest of margins, with the 30-year-old vying for his first title since May 2022. It had been an extremely close affair throughout at Yas Links and, at the 17th hole, a 200-yard par 3, Perez produced arguably the best shot of his life, as he holed a lengthy bunker shot for birdie en route to a third DP World Tour title.
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Beginning the final day, Shane Lowry (opens in new tab), Francesco Molinari and Min Woo Lee started tied on 13 under. However, as the day wore on, it was Perez who found the front, as the Frenchman carded six birdies on his first 11 holes.
A bogey did follow at 14, but Perez made yet another birdie to keep his slim advantage intact over Lee and new challenger Sebastian Soderberg. With the tension building, and players firing shots all over the course, it was up to Perez to bring home his advantage.
Firing his tee shot into the bunker at the par 3 17th, it seemed that a dropped shot was imminent, especially as he was faced with a shot that went downhill and needed to carry a big dip. However, what happened next was deserving of any champion.
Nipping his bunker shot past the flag, it checked up beautifully before spinning back and into the hole for an unlikely birdie! The celebration? Well, that didn't disappoint either, as the six-foot-five giant clenched his fists and chest bumped his caddie. Later on, Perez described it as the "greatest shot I've ever hit."
Two shots clear of Soderberg, a par at the last would all but seal another title but, with the adrenaline flowing, Perez (opens in new tab) found trouble with his second shot and was forced to chip out of the fescue next to the water.
Thankfully, for Perez, Soderberg failed to find the green from 85-yards at the last and, after the Swede made his par, it was left to Frenchman Perez to tap in for a bogey.
It wasn't done there though as, playing the last, Lee would need an eagle to force a playoff. Greenside in two on the par 5 18th, a pitch in was needed for the crucial eagle and, as it raced by, we all thought it was game over. However, Lee's ball began rolling back towards the hole and, as it edged closer and closer, it finished mere inches away from dropping. As a result, the trophy was Perez's, with the title the biggest win of his career. A huge feat in what is a Ryder Cup year.
Matt joined Golf Monthly in February 2021 covering weekend news, before also transitioning to equipment and testing. After freelancing for Golf Monthly and The PGA for 18 months, he was offered a full-time position at the company in October 2022 and continues to cover weekend news and social media, as well as help look after Golf Monthly’s many buyers’ guides and equipment reviews.
Taking up the game when he was just seven years of age, Matt made it into his county squad just a year later and continues to play the game at a high standard, with a handicap of around 2-4. To date, his best round came in 2016, where he shot a six-under-par 66 having been seven-under through nine holes. He currently plays at Witney Lakes in Oxfordshire and his favourite player is Rory McIlroy, despite nearly being struck by his second shot at the 17th during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship.
Matt’s current What’s In The Bag?
Driver: Honma TW747, 8.75°
Fairway Wood: TaylorMade Rocketballz Stage 2, 15°, 19°
Hybrid: Adams Super Hybrid, 22°
Irons: Mizuno MP54, 5-PW
Wedges: Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 Tour Satin, 50°, 56°, 60°
Putter: Cleveland TFI 2135 Satin Cero
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
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