x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Alvaro Quiros wins Dubai Desert Classic

Alvaro Quiros came through one of the most incident-packed rounds of his career to hang on to the narrowest of advantages and prevail in a blanket finish to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and claim his sixth European Tour title.

Alvaro Quiros had a hole-in-one, chipped in for an eagle and also lost a ball up a palm tree in a final-round 68 to win by a stroke at 11-under par.
Alvaro Quiros had a hole-in-one, chipped in for an eagle and also lost a ball up a palm tree in a final-round 68 to win by a stroke at 11-under par.

DUBAI // Alvaro Quiros came through one of the most incident-packed rounds of his career to hang on to the narrowest of advantages and prevail in a blanket finish to the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and claim his sixth European Tour title.

A hole in one, a chip in for an outrageous eagle two and a calamitous seven following two penalty strokes – one for getting his ball out of a palm tree – featured on a day when the Spaniard also needed medical attention for a damaged right forearm.

All the dramatic moments could not deflect him from his mission to add this honour to his other Gulf success in the Qatar Masters two years ago and he eventually held off the challenge of South Africa’s James Kingston and Denmark’s Anders Hansen to post an 11-under-par winning aggregate of 277.

Kingston qualified for the weekend by the skin of his teeth, his first two level-par rounds leaving him right on the line of the halfway cut, but the South African moved into overdrive in the second half of the tournament.

Two 67s enabled him to set a clubhouse target of 10-under par which nobody could surpass until Quiros hit his birdie putt at the 18th to within a few inches to remain at 11 under.

Hansen had a 25-foot putt to tie Quiros at the last but was well wide and had to settle for a share of second place with Kingston after starting the day as one of three joint leaders.

Three players – Scott Strange, Jean-Baptiste Gonnet and Alvaro Valasco – tied for fourth place a further stroke behind as the predicted late surge by the more famous figures in the game failed to materialise.

The prospect of a shoot-out between some of golf’s biggest names loomed large at the start of play as Tiger Woods, Lee Westwood and Segio Garcia planned a route past Rory McIlroy, the tournament pacesetter, over the closing 18 holes.

The large galleries that followed those leading attractions were left disappointingly short of highlight moments, however.
Garcia briefly shared the lead after an early birdie but that was as good as it got for the Spaniard as he seeks to recapture the form that made him such a force.

Woods left himself with too much to do in his quest to end his own barren spell after dropping shots on two of the first three holes.

The American kept battling but mistakes at key moments kept hampering his progress and his misery was compounded by seeing his routine approach to the last fall short and roll into the lake.

Successive birdies by Westwood at 13 and 14 took the world No 1 to within a shot of the lead but a drive into a palm tree at 17, after which he was unable to say for certain that it was his ball, forced him to be driven back to the tee on the way to a crushing double bogey.

Like Woods, he too, ended dismally with a penalty at the last for under-hitting his approach.

McIlroy, who had been atop the leaderboard at the end of the first three days, clung on grimly to make it four out of four but did not play well enough to merit a second win here and three successive bogeys on the homeward stretch sealed his fate.

The Northern Irishman’s body language suggested he knew it was not going to be a second Desert Swing celebration to follow his 2009 victory here.

Quiros gave the opposite impression from the outset. He had his share of good and bad luck, the favourable rubs of the green just outweighing the unfavourable moments. After driving through the green at the 351-yard second, he then outrageously holed his five-yard chip for an eagle for what was shaping up to be shot of the day.

He then bettered that with a hole in one at the 11th, watching in delight as a 161-yard wedge shot soared into the green and trickled into the hole.

That massive fillip followed the deflating incident that would have finished off less determined characters.

A wayward drive down the eighth found an unplayable lie in a bush and a penalty drop; his recovery lodged in a tree, incurring another penalty and a chip and two putts later he was walking off the green with a triple-bogey seven.

That he could so swiftly turn adversity into triumph speaks volumes for the ever-smiling Spaniard.

wjohnson@thenational.ae