x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Cabrera-Bello beats Westwood to win Dubai Desert Classic

The Spaniard grateful for the opportunity to play with the best players following a one-stroke victory at the Majlis Course.

Rafael Cabrera-Bello won by one stroke in Dubai on Sunday.
Rafael Cabrera-Bello won by one stroke in Dubai on Sunday.

Lee Westwood was left the nearly man in Dubai again on Sunday as Rafael Cabrera-Bello, ranked 116 places below him, pulled off another European Tour shock.

Two weeks after England's Robert Rock beat Tiger Woods and the world's top four in Abu Dhabi the 27-year-old Canary Islander became the Omega Desert Classic champion with a bogey-free closing 68 at The Emirates.

Third-round leader Westwood finished runner-up in the event for the third time after failing to birdie any of the last five holes.

He does have the small consolation, however, of taking the world No 2 spot back off fifth-placed Rory McIlroy – by 0.004 ranking points.

Even at the long 18th a play-off looked likely, but off a fine drive the Worksop golfer went left of the green, chipped nearly 25 feet past the flag and missed the putt.

Scot Stephen Gallacher could still deny Cabrera-Bello as a result, but after laying up from the rough he missed his 12-foot birdie attempt.

That made the 37-year-old joint second with Westwood and means he still has only one victory on the circuit in 379 starts going back almost two decades.

Cabrera-Bello became the third Spanish winner of the title in a row after Miguel Angel Jimenez and Alvaro Quiros – Jimenez beat Westwood in a play-off – and he had to wait to see if it was good enough to put him into the 64-man Accenture World Match Play Championship in Arizona the week after next.

It was his second Tour win, the first coming with a record-equalling closing round of 60 in the Austrian Open three years ago.

"It's an unbelievable feeling and it's been a really spectacular week for me," Cabrera-Bello told Sky Sports, remembering that he began it with nine birdies in 11 holes.

"With so many big, big names I felt really proud of myself. I wanted to fight, I stayed calm, I did everything that I've read we should do in these type of situations.

"I had ups and downs of course, but overall I think I played great.

"This was the quality jump I was looking for in my game and it's offered me the opportunity to play with the world's best players."