x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Jimenez wins Dubai Desert Classic

He edges Lee Westwood after three-play-off holes to clinch his first Dubai Desert Classic at the Emirates Golf Club.

AD201010100204936AR
AD201010100204936AR

DUBAI // Miguel Angel Jimenez holds his nerve to win the Dubai Desert Classic after three play-off holes with Lee Westwood. The pair finished regulation play tied on 11-under par to force the tournament into a sudden death shoot-out which developed into a see-saw battle on the 18th for two holes and finally decided on the tricky ninth. The first play-off hole on the par-5 18th saw both players convert par in a error-free hole, but as the pressure mounted, the ?300,000 (Dh1.5million) prize could have swung either way. Jimenez shanked his drive on the second 18th play-off hole, as Westwood held the initiative by reaching the fringe in two. Jimenez played safe with his second shot and them blasted a five wood into the bunker. Westwood cautiously chipped short by 12ft on his third stroke. The Spaniard went for broke with his bunker shot to finish 10ft away. Westwood then missed his par putt leaving Jimenez to hole out with a deft putt. The pair went on to the ninth as Westwood played a straight drive to gain an advantage. Jimenez once again drifted into the rough. However, it was Westwood to falter as his approach on the par-4 was short and close to the water. Jimenez pushed his approach wide to cancel out the water hazard. His chip shot was sublime leaving an uphill 8ft putt for par. Westwood on the other hand was short and had a 10ft putt downhill. His putt did not come in from the right. Jimenez was calm with his attempt which had enough weight on it to negotiate the break. Earlier, Westwood, the Race to Dubai champion, could have sealed the tournament on the 18th par-5 hole with an eagle from distance, but was a whisker away from dropping. He converted the tap-in for birdie to force the play-off. In an exciting climax to regulation play, Jimenez and Westwood recovered from earlier setbacks that saw the Spaniard Alvaro Quiros lead up until the 13th hole. The world No 32 made a hash of the par four, with a three-putt bogey in which his challenge for the tournament never recovered. He later went on drop another shot on the 18th, finishing eight-under. The other challenger, Thongchai Jaidee dropped a shot early on and birdie opportunities were few and far between as he finished 10-under on a day where red scores were at a premium. The reigning Desert Classic champion Rory McIlroy has not enjoyed the best of days in Dubai either. The Northern Irishman said before the tournament started that there are few courses he feels more comfortable on, but the 20-year-old has struggled on his way around, carding a hat-trick of bogeys to finish on eight-under par. gmeenaghan@thenational.ae